Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Take Out the Papers and the Trash

In today's NY Daily News an Op-Ed contributor really nails it with a wonderful rant about the city's sanitation enforcement procedures. Columnist Dolores Prida asks when did she "become my brother's sweeper...?" Prida wants to know why homeowners are ticketed because a bunch of litterbugs drop debris in front of her East Harlem home. As she says, "Nobody had bothered to tell me that homeowners are punished for the debris passersby leave in front of their homes - both on the sidewalk and on the street, up to 18 inches from the curb."

Indeed. And what about store owners who are similarly ticketed-or given a summons because rice that was packaged by a manufacturer in Louisiana failed to hold its moisture-and therefore its weight-in the New York winter. Welcome to the Big Apple where everything that moves-or doesn't-is liable to subject to one fine or another.

Poor Prida! Here's a woman who has resorted to paying a super at a nearby building to sweep for her, yet the summonses keep on coming. And forget about going down to fight the fine: "Through the years I've made my case at hearings before the Environmental Control Board's stone-faced judges and written letters to the local Community Board and my Council member.
The results: nada."

Welcome to world of the neighborhood retailer-a frustrating existence of incomprehensible regulations and opaque adjudication procedures. And, as Prida points out, this all amounts to a hidden tax: "The annual cost of this travesty is the equivalent of a second, hidden property tax for the individual homeowner. This year my bill for sweeping or not sweeping my brother's trash will be more than $1,000."

The city's administrative proceedings as well as its municipal code, is badly in need of an overhaul. Dolores Prida's experience is the one that all shopkeepers in the city are forced to deal with every day-and the city treats the complaints with a deaf ear. Is it any wonder that NYC is one of the most expensive places to live and do business in? Imagine what we all could gain if thew city cleaned house of all of these useless ALJs enforcing arcane regs that do little if anything to protect the public interest.