Sanit agents demand proof of private sanitation

Mary Raffa of Sophie’s at 3285 Westchester Avenue points to a private sanitation sticker in the window of the restaurant. Photo by Victor Chu

The New York City Department of Sanitation enforcement agents are now asking Pelham Bay merchants to produce on demand their most current bill for private sanitation. This is in addition to requiring that all businesses display stickers from a private sanitation company in their store window.

This new enforcement strategy is aimed at reducing the number of business who do not have active agreements with private carters. By law, all businesses must purchase their own sanitation services because the city only services residential properties.

“We have a digest of codes,” said Kathy Dawkins, spokeswoman for DSNY. “There is a section that says a merchant who has a contract with a private carter must produce [a current invoice] on demand. They also must have a sticker in the window with the name of the carting service and the pickup schedule.”

Dawkins said the DSNY requires businesses to show sanitation enforcement recent invoices because if a new business has moved into a store there is often an old sticker in the window that may not be valid.

“If a private business does not have private carting they will probably use the nearest public trash receptacle,” Dawkins said.

Nevertheless, members of the Pelham Bay Merchants Association are concerned about the enforcement code. They feel that the sticker in their store windows should be enough. If the owners are not in the store when DSNY enforcement comes by, they wind up with a summons they do not feel are justified.

“It is just another city agency sticking their hands into something they have no authority over,” said Matt Santiago, recording secretary for the Pelham Bay Merchants Association. “It is another stream of revenue for the city that the general public doesn’t know about. Businesses suffer because of it.”

Santiago added that it really came down to the merchants taking personal responsibility in ensuring that they had carting. He said the city’s enforcement tactics often put business owners on the defensive.

Dawkins said that the enforcement practice is for the betterment of all of the city’s residential and commercial areas.

“Our city streets are the cleanest they have been in 30 years,” Dawkins said. “If you are a business owner, you have to have private carting. You cannot slip in and say you have private carting when you don’t.”

Dawkins added: “Clean streets benefit everybody.”

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