Health & Environment

Clean Streets Committee Keeps Working

The Clean Streets Committee of NEWRA keeps plugging away at the near insurmountable problems of trash and rats in the North End. Tuesday’s well-attended meeting brought a mix of old timers and newcomers, along with the Chamber of Commerce and neighborhood representatives City Councilor Sal LaMattina and State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz.

The Clean Streets Committee meets monthly.
The Clean Streets Committee meets monthly.

The quantity and placement of trash barrels continues to be debated. The committee has largely taken the view that if the barrels are consistently emptied, that residents will be more willing to have them near their buildings. Councilor LaMattina reported that the barrels are emptied at least twice per day during 2 shifts, and sometimes during an overnight shift as well. The problems occur when vacations and staff schedules result in a missed shift and the barrels overflow. Residents reported that pickups of street barrels has been improved.

Councilor LaMattina said the tourists are not causing the trash problem. His walks through the North End with the Clean Streets Committee have indicated that tourists generally use the street barrels appropriately. It is the household trash that remains the bulk of the problem. With 3 pickup days per week, trash is on the streets 45 hours each week. This gives ample opportunity for bags to break, wind to blow trash around and for rats to feast.

A resident brought a picture showing that some restaurants have been dragging trash barrels to the sidewalks for residential pickup causing grease spillage along with prepared foods. Restaurants are supposed to have their own private dumpsters and pickups.

A resident reported this Fulton St trash was put out on Sunday at noon for pickup on Monday morning.
A resident reported this Fulton St trash was put out on Sunday at noon for pickup on Monday morning.

A repeated complaint is that residents are putting out household trash much too early for pickup. Further, residential trash is consistently found in or around sidewalk barrels. LaMattina’s office has started sending violation letters to property owners citing such abuses. Trash is not supposed to be put on the streets before 5pm the day before pickup. LaMattina asked that residents report these problems directly to his office at: or 617-635-3200.

Chris Young represented the Chamber of Commerce and talked about the potential for a “sponsor a barrel” program or having a raffle to raise money for resources. A resident brought up the idea of the businesses working with the City as part of a “Business Improvement District” program similar to other cities targeting specific neighborhoods in need of cleanup. The resident handed out this article regarding a ‘clean up tax’ for downtown Boston, “Downtown Clean Up Tax Sought Again,” Boston Globe, September 25, 2009.

Green Ticket Bill – State Representative Aaron Michlewitz is encouraging residents to get behind the Green Ticket Bill that adds “green ticket” fines to the property owners’ tax bill. This enforcement would result in better compliance with trash ordinances. The Clean Streets Committee has posted a form letter on their website for residents to send to their state representatives. Go to and click on the Clean Streets tab.

Rats – The City Council is planning a hearing on the rat infestation in Boston neighborhoods. Residents continue to report an increase in rodent sightings. The Committee believes the rat problem is part of the overall trash issue in the North End.

Dog Waste – The Committee discussed the potential for a voluntary program similar to the motorcycle noise initiative, “Pipe Down Please.” Signs would be posted and cards would be distributed encouraging dog owners to pick-up after their dogs. Representatives from the neighborhood dog group were supportive of the idea. Having more dog waste receptacles in the center of the North End would also help owners that forget or run out of bags.

More information on the Clean Streets Committee can be found at: You can also email the committee at