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[GreenYes] New York also needs better regs / enforcement to rid sidewalks of garbage/recycling bags/containers

Interesting that Portland, Oregon, a city that I thought was way ahead of us, should so neatly state what we at the Manhattan Citizens' Solid Waste Advisory board have also thought should be one of our long-term priorities for New York. As most visitors to New York know, huge, great hulking piles of black bags, blue bags, clear bags, bulky "waste", durable products (some of which can be reused and repaired), garbage and recycling containers and dumpsters are frequently found on the sidewalks of New York. The tourists notice it more than the natives since we've long ago become blind to it. Many that have spoken to me are appalled that they see waist-high, long piles of bags at the curb on "shi-shi" 5th and Madison avenues, Broadway, throughout Times Square and in front of well-known landmarks just to mention a few. We go to a lot of trouble to get tourists here and pride ourselves in the landmarks, but then cheapen all of it by allowing piles of garbage to exist. In New York we don't have back alleys in the built-up areas, and many of the apartment, office and commercial buildings are old. In these built-up areas (by this I mean most or all of Manhattan and the areas of the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn closest to Manhattan) the Department of Sanitation picks up residential and institutional garbage three times a week and recyclables once (usually on the same day as a garbage pickup), so there would be 3 opportunities for such piles to spring up. An assortment of private carters pick up garbage and recyclables from businesses. There are dozens of firms that collect throughout the city and since there is no franchise system, any of them may have customers on any single block, adding to the traffic nightmare (another issue). There are regulations as to how far in advance of a pickup the piles are permitted to exist, but that isn't really enforced, and it isn't a really short period of time. And due to various circumstances, pickups don't always occur like clockwork (I'm sure an understatement).

I know there are cities out there that manage to keep their sidewalks free of all this really obnoxious clutter. I'm not even talking about the litter problem (different issue). In New York there are some who live in row houses that have built special areas in front to disguise the cans of garbage and recyclables... some are very nice with wrought iron railings around large square metal set-asides with hinged lids. Some are landscaped. But this is all voluntary. I've been in cities where you just don't see the piles on the sidewalks. So what are the secrets? I know there must be many since buildings everywhere differ in age, space for storage, etc. Please do let me and everyone else know!

Maggie Clarke, Ph.D.
Environmental Scientist and Educator
New York City

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