Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr. is telling illegal garbage dumpers where they can stick their trash.
Vallone, who observed personal garbage in a public receptacle outside his office, is outraged that some citizens view the city as their private dumping ground.
“I was walking into my office in the rain and I noticed one of the garbage cans outside was stuffed up with personal garbage. I passed it and got angry,” said Vallone. “This is something a lot of people are not aware of, but they see these overflowing garbage cans and a lot of times they assume it’s because they haven’t been emptied. But a lot of times it’s because pigs think they can dump their garbage in public property.”
Vallone proceeded to remove the refuse and inspect it in search of the “swine’s” identity. He says he found a magazine with a name and address, which he has passed on to the Department of Sanitation for enforcement.
“I have your last name and address. Expect a visit from Sanitation to your pigsty,” Vallone posted on his Facebook page on January 17.
Beyond singular civilians, Vallone also believes businesses are dumping their trash in public cans for financial benefits.
“Businesses try to avoid paying for a private trash removal company by emptying into public dumpsters,” said the councilmember. “Private people who do it are either too lazy or too stupid to figure out pick up days. But either way it causes our neighborhood to look dirty.”
According to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY), 793 fines were issued for illegal dumping of residential garbage in street bins in Queens in 2011 – down from 887 violations in 2010. Fines increased by roughly 47 percent citywide, however, from 2,512 in 2010 to 3,681 in 2011.
DSNY spokesperson Kathy Dawkins says the city is doing whatever it can to enforce what is considered a “well-known law.”
“It is important to know that people are not supposed to put their household trash in the litter baskets,” Dawkins said. “We are responding to commercial areas where merchants are concerned about this problem, as well as to complaints by politicians.”
To discourage dumpers, Vallone said he has introduced legislation that would increase the fine for a first offense from $100 to $200.
According to the councilmember, the key to cutting down the dumping is notifying the city by registering complaints with 3-1-1.
“Enforcement is complaint driven,” said Vallone. “Sanitation does not have the resources to investigate every garbage can. We have to do a better job of letting them know where this is a problem.”