By Maria Rocha-Buschel
State elected officials are introducing legislation that would prevent the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) from storing their trucks in residential neighborhoods after East Village residents voiced complaints about the vehicles on their block for the last year.
Elected officials spoke about the quality of life issue on the block at East 10th Street between First and Second Avenues this past Sunday morning, noting that it has been almost a year since the Department of Sanitation started parking on the block and also announced that they would be sending a letter to Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia requesting updates on the situation.
The letter noted that Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed the situation last September, shortly after the trucks first arrived in the neighborhood on September 15, 2018, saying that he would try to work something out with the commissioner because the city didn’t want residential areas to feel the burden of the trucks, but the situation has remained largely unchanged since then, residents and business owners said.
The proposed legislation, sponsored by Deborah Glick in the State Assembly and Brad Hoylman in the State Senate, would amend the administrative code to prohibit garbage trucks from parking overnight on city streets. The new section would specify that vehicles operated by or under contract with the Department of Sanitation, and which are used for removing, disposing of or transporting solid waste, can’t be parked on the streets overnight.
“Garbage trucks belong in appropriate and permanent facilities—not parked overnight on city streets,” Hoylman said. “For nearly a year, the residents and small businesses of East 10th Street have been living a New York nightmare from the noise, exhaust, and stench from city garbage trucks using their public street as a parking lot, despite our repeated efforts to find a solution with the New York City Department of Sanitation. If the Mayor’s Office won’t fix this, Albany should.”
The trucks are parked on East 10th Street because DSNY lost their lease at a facility at 606 West 30th Street last year and the department didn’t have an alternative site where the vehicles could be stored.
Residents and business owners in the area have said that the trucks cause consistently bad smells on the street due to the constant presence of the trucks, which especially affects the multiple restaurants that previously had outdoor seating nearby. Residents also reported being woken up every morning when sanitation workers come to retrieve the trucks. The trucks are parked on the street overnight, roughly from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., and are there all weekend.
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said that she would normally be in Washington but that Sunday was in New York for the press conference about the trucks because her office had received so many complaints about the issue.
“We understand that the city needs to find a better solution but find one,” Maloney said. “Business owners have said that business has gone down. No one wants to eat outside next to a garbage truck.”
Elected officials said on Sunday that they had proposed at least seven alternative sites that would have enough space for the 21 trucks to park, which are currently on 23rd Street and Mount Carmel Place in Kips Bay in addition to the space on East 10th Street, but Maloney said that no response has been given by DSNY about why these alternatives are not acceptable.
Town & Village reported last September that DSNY chose the streets where the trucks would be parked based on their proximity to “section stations,” which are DSNY facilities that contain locker rooms, bathrooms and lunch areas and are where Sanitation employees begin their shift.
Glick said that one alternative proposed was a car tow pound on West 35th Street and the West Side Highway, not far from the site of the original garage, but DSNY rejected that suggestion.
“We could have brought in a trailer so the workers would be able to shower and have the space they needed, and it would have been fine,” Glick said. “Sanitation nixed that idea because then the trucks would then have to go all the way across Manhattan, but they had to go just as far before that anyway [with the previous garage].”
DSNY representative Iggy Terranova announced the arrival of trucks on city streets in a Community Board 6 meeting last September, not long before the department would be getting evicted from the site on West 30th Street, giving the board only about a week’s notice that trucks would be arriving on Mount Carmel Place adjacent to Bellevue South Park, T&V also reported last year. Community Board members and residents at that time also expressed concern about potential smells and rodent problems.