Community Health & Environment

Clean Streets Committee Listens to New Trash Cleanup Ideas From Councilor Sal LaMattina

Councilor Sal LaMattina holds up orange trash bags required for use in Chelsea for properties without barrels.

North End residents came out this week to hear new trash clean-up ideas from City Councilor Sal LaMattina and work with NEWRA’s Clean Streets Committee.  Recurring issues include household trash not being property disposed, lack of street trash barrels, trashpickers, dog waste and general enforcement of existing cleanliness ordinances.

Councilor Sal LaMattina, starting a new 2-year term on the City Council representing District 1, came armed to the meeting with some new proposals. “I think the neighborhood is cleaner than five years ago,” said Councilor LaMattina. I want to thank the committee for their efforts on increasing awareness. We know there are residents and businesses that do a good job. However, there are still problems. I am committed to working with NEWRA’s Clean Streets Committee.”

A major change the Councilor is floating would require the use of trash barrels or brightly colored trash bags for residential trash pickup. Starting this Fall, a similar ordinance in Chelsea went into effect where residential trash can either be put out in a barrel or in bright orange bags. Otherwise, the trash does not get picked up. The concept of the brightly colored bags is to make it very clear who is properly disposing of residential trash (and who is not). In Revere, officials now require the use of a barrel or special rodent-resistant bags for trash pickup.

Neighborhood businesses would sell the city-approved brightly colored bags at cost. This type of distribution would also encourage residents to patronize local merchants. The Councilor believes the orange bags, or another selected color, would help eliminate the use of CVS and supermarket bags that are often seen on the North End streets for pick-up. It would also make enforcement easier because trash violations would be readily apparent.

Reactions were mixed to the Councilor’s proposal. Some residents thought it might work, but were concerned that the bags might be too expensive. Each bag can hold several smaller bags inside.

Other residents said they would rather the City focus on enforcement of existing ordinances. Nick Larosa, a North End resident said, “For 10 years, we’ve been fighting the same battle. We have brought these problems to City Hall. It’s the absentee landlords. The City doesn’t seem to enforce anything. I don’t think the North End is cleaner now than years ago. I’m a dog walker. The streets are disgusting. You can find a toilet bowl on any given night out on the street. I have received numerous tickets on my buildings because others put their trash out in front in my buildings.”

LaMattina believes 3 days/week of pickups is one of the inherent problems because trash is on the street 6 days a week from 5pm the night before until at least 7am the next morning. But, residents do not want to give up a trash pickup day either. “The less time it is out there, the less trash there will be out there,” said LaMattina.

Residents reiterated the problem of absentee landlords and asked the City to increase enforcement. Anne Pistorio noted that buildings without an owner living there are supposed to have a sign on the front with a phone number so the landlord can be contacted. This ordinance is not enforced in the North End.

LaMattina promised that he would go back to Code Enforcement with these issues. “We need to embarrass the absentee landlords,” agreeing to compile a list of violations reported in the North End. will publish this data when it is made available.

Danielle, a local real estate broker, disagreed that the problem is the number of pickup days. “Beacon Hill is clean and they have 3 days too,” she said. “As a real estate broker, it is embarrassing to show the North End. It’s filthy. The other neighborhoods are just cleaner.” LaMattina noted that Charlestown only has one day of pickup and that many areas of Boston simply don’t have the high foot traffic.

In addition to the presentation by Councilor LaMattina, Clean Streets Committee Chair David Grant summarized recent initiatives of the committee; some that worked and others that fell flat.

  • Good Neighbor Recognition Award
  • Tip Sheets for realtors and general distribution
  • Spazzare – Brooms of the North End (stolen)
  • Cigarette Butt Poles (stolen)
  • Dog Waste Bags in Parks (stolen)
  • 10 Minutes with a Broom program
  • See It, Report It, Get a Tracking Number

New efforts from local public officials and agencies include the “Green Machine” picking up trash every night around 10:00 pm. In the summer, there is a manual cleaner that roams the streets. The Green Ticket law has been in effect for over a year now, adding a bit more teeth to enforcement. For the second year, Public Works has added two more months (December & March) to mechanical street cleaning, bringing 10 months/year of curbside cleaning to the North End.

Frank O’Brien, Public Works Department Liaison reminded residents that mechanical street cleaning (and the associated parking rules) will continue through December 31st and start again on March 1st. Street sweeping in the months of December and March is weather dependent. “It went pretty well last year and we are hoping for the same this year,” said O’Brien. See more information on the North End’s expanded street cleaning.

7 Replies to “Clean Streets Committee Listens to New Trash Cleanup Ideas From Councilor Sal LaMattina

  1. And who is going to pay $2.50 per bright orange bag? You know as well as I do that the local businesses will mark them up to $3 to $5 per bag to cover their shelf space and stocking costs. And where exactly are people supposed to store their trash barrels? Out on the side walks or in the narrow hallways of their building? Seriously….does anyone even think about the practicality and financial burden of these ideas before they propose them?can you say Enforce the existing regulations?

  2. The stretch of Prince Street from Salem St. to 44 Prince is a disaster and has been for 10 years. Those buildings have trash in front of them every single day.

    Make it work like shoveling snow. It's the owner's responsibility to make sure it shoveled or has no trash. if someone else puts their trash in front of your building, the landlord should set up a camera and catch them…if that's too expensive, sell the building to someone who can afford to keep it clean or expect more tickets from the city.

  3. if the city did a better job of promoting/enforcing/mandating recycling for residents and businesses, the streets would be a lot cleaner.

  4. If the City got rid of the bottle/can deposit in Boston the streets would be much cleaner since the trash pickers would stop ripping holes in every bag looking for the refunds. If people would stop putting pizza boxes out the rats would not have the greasy remains to feast on. If people would use the clear plastic bags for recycling instead of the old blue bins and paper bags or just throwing their milk containers and cereal boxes out on the street, the streets would be much cleaner. If people put their trash out at the proper time and didn't put it out on Friday night or AFTER the trash was already picked up , the streets would be much cleaner.

  5. I still think that the only long term and effective solution is to have dumpsters along the curb as most cities in Europe do. People put their trash in them whenever they see fit and they get emptied on some regular schedule. Yes, we would lose some parking spaces, and yes, the city would have to monitor and enforce their use for constructions debris, but for the most part the cities that I have seen them in are far cleaner and neater looking than our neighborhood.
    They keep the trash contained and out of sight, they eliminate the issue of it being put out on the wrong days, they help with rodent access, etc., etc.
    Like everything else: Not a perfect solution, but the pros far outweigh the cons IMO. There is a reason why so many other cities have moved to this as a model.

  6. @MarkB …..NOOOOOOOO! Who wants dirty smelly dumpsters at the end of the St with Rats and bugs crawling out. GROSS. The solution is ENFORCEMENT of existing codes and stiffer fines for building owners who let their tenants do whatever they feel like it. You can put one in front of yoru building if you like but keepthe dumpster plan far far away from the rest of us.

  7. I think the citty could use a person on each side of the street with a leaf blower working in front othe the street sweepers to blow all the trash off the sidewalk and out from under cars. No towing required. It would be noisy and dusty for a minute or 2 but IT WOULD CLEAR ALL THE TRASH. The City needs to enforce existing laws. Leaf blowers in tandum with sweepers can work too.

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