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NYC is going to spend millions more to clean up the streets

Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday announced the new “Get Stuff Clean” initiative.

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

NYC’s politicians are putting money where their mouths are—millions of dollars will be going toward cleaning up the city’s streets in a massive push to get garbage under control.

Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday announced the new “Get Stuff Clean” initiative that will invest $14.5 million this year to clean more than 1,000 neglected, “No Man’s Land” areas, add trash cans, add more rat exterminators and sanitation workers and combat illegal dumping with more security cameras.

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Under the new plan, 200 more sanitation workers will be hired and NYC Parks will add new evening shifts for “hot spot” cleaning and rat mitigation across the city’s 240 parks.

“No man’s land” areas, places that past administrations put under the jurisdiction of other city agencies without dedicated cleanliness resources, according to the mayor’s office, will get $7.1 million in sanitation efforts this year, plus more than $6.5 million every year after that.

Almost $5 million will go toward servicing more trash cans and placing more of them at the entrances of bridges and along the perimeters of city parks. Phase one of this plan went into effect on July 1 and has already shown a 55 percent reduction in garbage can complaints, bringing complaints back in line with pre-pandemic levels. Phase two will bring more baskets to some of the city’s most highly-trafficked tourist areas. 

Then, $470,000 this fiscal year and $1.1 million annually thereafter, will go toward regular cleanings of highway on- and off-ramps—one of the first places seen by visitors to New York City. There will also be $1.4 million added this fiscal year, and about $400,000 annually thereafter, for expanded camera enforcement against illegal dumping. Those who do it will face $4,000 fines and vehicle impounds.

Rats will be further chased out of town, so to speak, with $630,000 this fiscal year and nearly $1 million in the next year for rat mitigation efforts. 

Finally, there will be more staff added to the Department of Environmental Protection to inspect and clean sewer grates (catch basins). This will help keep them clean and unclogged so there’s less flooding.

“As children, families, or any New Yorker strolls through their neighborhood, they deserve a clean environment,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “They should have certainty that the city will tend to trash, rats, and other quality of life issues. This initiative adds to the city’s ability to do that. Thank you to the teams across the city doing this work and to our interagency partners for coming together to deliver the services New Yorkers need.”

During the pandemic, former Mayor Bill de Blasio cuts to the Department of Sanitation. Since then, we have been plagued by more rats than ever, with sightings up 71% in October compared to the same time in 2020, and in our latest Time Out Index—a poll of 27,000 city-dwellers from across the world, NYC was named as the second dirtiest city in the world after Rome, Italy.

But a new report from the mayor’s office claims that only 1.5% of New York City’s streets are considered “filthy,” which seems less than you’d think but may be evidence the city is less dirty than it has been in recent years. According to Gothamist, New Yorkers made 533 complaints to 311 about overflowing street garbage cans from July 1 to November 6—a 55% drop compared to the same period last year when there were 1,180 complaints.

Regardless of the city’s report and the declining complaints, leaders are attempting to combat these nasty aspects of current city life. The City Council has presented a five-point “Rat Action Plan,” and the Department of Sanitation has limited the time that businesses and buildings are allowed to put out their garbage bags (moving it from 4 to 8pm). Mayor Adams and DSNY commissioner Jessica Tisch have also unveiled new containerized waste bins that will be deployed across all five boroughs

NYC is also spending $11 million for new street sweeper vehicles designed to fit in narrow spaces like bike lanes, aiming to clean previously unreachable areas and it has reinstated its Alternate Side Parking schedule so that the streets can be swept twice as often. During the pandemic, ASP had been scaled back. NYC is also considering a new bill that would require city agencies to identify where they could place public restrooms in each of NYC's zip codes, which would also help cut down on public urination and the like.

According to Gothamist, more than a third of the City Council’s members are using their discretionary funds (at least $1.7 million) to clear out overflowing garbage bins and kick-off local cleanup initiatives in their districts this year.

This year seems to be the year of cleaning house, doesn’t it?

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