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. NorthEndWaterfront.com 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.