NEWRA’s Clean Streets Committee cheered the Governor’s signing of the new Green Ticket law! The provisions are expected to be a major catalyst in improving compliance with existing street trash regulations. The Committee thanked all those that supported the effort including residents, businesses, City agencies and elected officials, especially Representative Aaron Michlewitz (who made the issue the subject of his maiden speech), Senator Petruccelli and City Councilor Sal LaMattina.
At the February 16th neighborhood meeting, District 1 City Councilor Sal LaMattina said, “The City is ready to go.” Most tickets are expected to issued for trash violations, such as when garbage is put on the streets too early, on the wrong day, or not put out properly (tied up in 2-ply bags or sealed containers).
The Councilor will soon announce a hearing to explain the details of how the City will engage the new law. Inspectional Services will be the city agency responsible for enforcement. Violators will have 21 days to pay the ticket or the owner/landlord will receive a bill. For condo buildings, the violation has to be tied to an individual unit owner and ISD will look through the trash to find out that information. There will be an opportunity to appeal tickets before they go on the property owner’s tax bill. As with property taxes, unpaid fines could ultimately lead to liens on properties. Fine revenue will go into the City’s general fund.
Even with the Green Ticket law, the Councilor still encourages residents to contact his office when they see trash violations. Emails can be sent to email@example.com or call 617-635-3200.
Naomi Paul, co-chair, continues to work with the City to get a mailing list in order to distribute the new North End Cleanliness Tip Sheet. She also asked for volunteers to help distribute to realtors in the area so that new tenants will have the sheet.
Councilor LaMattina gave an update on the plan to reduce the amount of time that household trash stays out on the street as a mechanism to reduce the rodent problem. Currently, residents can legally put out their trash after 5:00 pm the night before pickup which usually starts at 7:00 am. With a morning-only disposal provision, residents would put out their trash between the hours of 5 – 9 am so that the trash does not stay on the streets overnight.
The Councilor is planning an internal meeting on March 23rd with the relevant city personnel to discuss the plan. One issue has been changing the contract with the pickup contractor that does not want to wait until 9am to start their routes. In order to finish the neighborhood in the morning, one extra pickup truck would be needed. However, there are also options regarding starting on the center streets (Hanover/Salem) first to make the pickup routes more efficient.
While the Clean Streets Committee has generally supported the proposal in the past, a few residents voiced opinions that it unfairly restricts residents and they would rather the current night-before provisions stay in place. Some residents blamed the trash and rat problem on certain restaurants that leave trash out every night in bags rather than the required barrel containers and/or store used grease outside. The group agreed that a successful effort would have to include all the constituents in the neighborhood.
LaMattina responded that it is “impossible to keep everyone happy, but we have to do something.” It was noted that the morning-only disposal provision has been enacted in Cambridge and attributed to helping the rat problem there.
It was noted that the trash problem is exacerbated by the ‘trash pickers’ that rip open bags and empty containers looking for deposit cans. A pending “bottle bill” will look to expand the deposit to water and juice bottles which could make the situation worse. One committee member noted that some streets, such as Lewis St., combine their trash in one location so that it is not dispersed throughout the entire street.
Lastly, the committee discussed ways to re-invigorate the largely unsuccessful “10 minutes with a broom” program. The burning question is how to deal with building and store fronts that are consistently littered.
The next Clean Streets meeting will be on Tuesday, March 16th, 7:00 pm at the Nazzaro Center, 30 N. Bennet St. More information can be found at cleanstreets.newra.org.