Monday, March 28, 2011

Systemic Failure

On Saturday, I realized it was once again time to complain about the same blight/litter problem I've complained about before. Today, in the Republican-American, there was an article that seemed to pretty much condemn the city for failing to take care of the neighborhoods in terms of blight, litter, sidewalks, absentee landlords, and an array of illegal activities.

I'm going to stick to my original plan and talk about litter and blight, but I think the roots of the problems are the same across the board: the city does not have an adequate enforcement program in use. The current administration has had ten years to come up with a way to deal with the problems, and they have failed to do so. Litter, blight, slumlords, sidewalk decay--nothing has changed.

My immediate gripe is the litter that accumulates daily in my yard. How bad is it?  Here's a sample of the worst section:

The source of the litter that appears in my yard every day is just on the other side of the fence:

The property next to mine is an apartment building with a bodega on the ground floor. Their dumpster is next to my property. They never clean up the trash that accumulates around the dumpster--except when one of their neighbors lodges a formal complaint with the city. Then they are issued a warning and are given a few days to clean up the mess. So they clean up the mess and are no longer in trouble.

This has been going on for years. It's an endlessly frustrating cycle and it is extraordinarily inefficient. Every time we complain, the city spends manpower ordering them to clean up their mess. And then the mess returns.

Simply put, the city needs to get tough on blight and litter. Until it does, nothing will change. My bodega neighbor is the perfect example of that. They know they won't really get into trouble if they let the mess accumulate. They are incapable of being internally motivated to obey the law, show respect and keep their area clean. It's up to the city to give them an external motivation. If the current regulations don't give enforcement officers enough power to do their jobs effectively, then it's time to change the regulations.

Going back to the larger picture, to the numerous problems plaguing the city, let me just add that cracking down on blight and litter is only part of the solution. The city is guilty of contributing to blight by, for example, failing to properly maintain the sidewalks. We are looking at a system-wide failure on the part of the administration. We need a better approach.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rachel. Your reflections are totoally on. Government indifference needs to change.