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May 21, 2019

City Council passes bills to crack down on illegal dumping

June 28, 2018
Garbage bags on the street full of trash in Brooklyn. (400tmax / Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Litterbugs beware – the city will soon be going through your trash.

The City Council passed a package of bills Thursday to crack down on illegal dumping – allowing the Department of Sanitation to rifle through piles of dumped trash to find clues that identify the culprit and slap them with a fine.

Another bill will jack up the fines for illegal commercial dumping, which will range from $4,000 to $18,000. Fines currently start at $1,500 for a first offense and go up to $10,000.

Council minority leader Steve Matteo said piles of debris dumped by contractors on the side of the road have become a big mess in his Staten Island district. Locals have pitched in to do cleanups, only to find the area covered in trash again days later.

“They’re dumping materials, toilet bowls, tires, everything…It’s getting to the point where you have bundles and bundles of debris,” he said. “It damages our environment, it hurts our local business, it drains our financial resources, and it lowers our quality of life.”

The trash searches will target mainly large piles of dumped trash – as opposed to stray plastic bags or soda cans – for which pols said the usual culprits are businesses.

The Department of Sanitation will be able to use identifying information found in the garbage, such as a contractor’s logo, to identify the person responsible for the dumping, and they will be assumed responsible unless they present evidence rebutting the claim.

For your average litterbug, the legislation will also double the fine for throwing trash out a car window, to $200 for a first offense. For a second violation within a year, the fine will rise from $250 to $350, and for a third, to $450.

Another bill will require Sanitation to come up with a plan to step up enforcement against littering from vehicles in hotspots where it’s known to be a problem.

“You can go to any intersection in my district – you’ll see someone throwing garbage out of their windows from their cars,” Matteo said.

For regular littering on the street, the fine for a second violation will increase from $250 to $300, but the fine for a first offense will stay at $75.

Councilman Daneek Miller (D-Queens) said his neighborhood in southeast Queens also has a big problem with illegal dumping – and the rats it attracts.

“Mounds of waste are routinely left on our streets and sidewalks to fester, attracting vermin and causing even more dumping,” he said. “There will be steep consequences for those who dump their garbage wherever they please.”

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