Bayside resident Bill Harap has been noticing something strange on garbage collection day.
When the New York Department of Sanitation (DSNY) came to collect recyclables on Friday, Feb. 22, the collection crew threw the trash into the back of the truck — but he saw that some pieces of plastic and paper had fallen back onto the curb.
Harap then charged that after the truck pulled away, a supervisor pulled up in a DSNY car and issued him a summons for having trash on the curb, even though it was not his fault.
“At [time/place/occurrence], I did observe bottles, plastic wrappings, dirt, pebbles at curb well within 18 inches of the 8 to 9 a.m. residential routine time,” wrote a supervising agent on Harap’s $100, the second one he received over the course of two months.
His initial $25 summons was for “recyclable plastic mixed in with recyclable unsoiled cardboard,” which Harap also denied doing.
The Bayside resident claimed that he observed the same thing happening to multiple houses between 29th and 30th avenues on Bell Boulevard for “at least two months.”
“The truck went all down the line [of houses],” Harap said.
When Harap complained to the supervisor of the QE11 DSNY Garage, he told the resident that the summonses “would be taken care of.” But when he followed up about the tickets, the supervisor told Harap that the agent “refused to void the summons” and he would have to fight it in order to get rid of it.
“We have not heard complaints similar to what this resident is claiming,” said DSNY spokesperson Dina Montes.
Montes looked into Harap’s summonses and said that his first offense on Jan. 4 was for mixing recyclables. She said that according to NYC recycling laws, residents, institutions and agencies that receive DSNY collection services must separate recyclables — mixed paper and cardboard should not be placed together with metal, glass and plastic recyclables.
His second offense on Feb. 22 was for a “dirty curb/gutter area.”
This is not the first time DSNY collectors have been accused of issuing bogus citations. Back in 2012, trash collectors in Brooklyn were caught on video issuing “trumped up” tickets for infractions like mixing recyclables with regular garbage.
According to one Brooklyn resident, the agent did not even open the bag before issuing a summons.
“The DSNY’s Enforcement Unit, Sanitation Police officers and Supervisors help enforce local sanitation and public health laws. They issue summonses for all DSNY/sanitation-related violations, including, but not limited to, failure to remove canine waste, illegal dumping, littering, unauthorized removal of garbage, improper recycling receptacles, dirty sidewalks, discarding harmful materials, plus other violations,” Montes said.
She added that anyone wishing to contest a summons “can request a hearing which can be in-person, by mail, over the phone or online.” Various options to contest a summons can also be found on the back of the summons itself or on the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings website.
Updated on March 14 to reflect DSNY comments. An older version of the story said that Harap received a $300 citation when it was actually a $100 citation.