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Cataloguing the illegal trash put-outers of the North End

Adam Balsam walked across the North End tonight and photographed and noted every last bag of trash illegally put out too early:

... As someone who has fought the North End rodent problem first-hand and who is disgusted by the litter on Foster Street (among others), I understand the need for strict trash codes. But why bother having them if they are simply ignored? And chatter about random blatant violations doesn't mean it's being addressed. It looks to me like 100% non-compliance with next to zero repercussions. ...

Neighborhoods: 
Free tagging: 

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Comments

"that's all I'm going to say and I'll say no more"
"You haven't said anything!"
"and that's all I'm saying"

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ISD does not work nights and weekends. Unfortunately most of the violations of trash take place nights and weekends. Living behind a restaurant (which just closed, hopefully new tenant will be better) we have fought for years to get ISD to enforce compliance (owner is also very politically connected). Problem - when the restaurant overfills dumpster or resident puts out trash at night but ISD person doesn't come on until 8 am - the dumpster is empty and there is no evidence that the resident is out of compliance. If you call ISD they say they don't work nights and weekends. Maybe now that they city can collect on the green tix they will change their policy.

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Part of the problem is that city services here are so Balkanized. Why not let Boston Police issue tickets for ISD-type stuff? (At least for the violations that are obvious to someone without an ISD background, like trash being out early, sidewalks not shoveled, etc.) If this is a recurring issue that's affecting quality of life, it would be great if your neighborhood services officer could send someone to take care of it.

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Part of the problem is that city services here are so Balkanized. Why not let Boston Police issue tickets for ISD-type stuff?

While ordinarily I'd agree- BPD can't correctly handle the laws it's supposed to enforce now.

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Brett must have been rejected by the BPD after failing a pysch test I am now convinced.

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Look at quality of life violations as a city revenue source.

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When I've talked to our neighborhood services officer about issues like boom cars waking me up in the summer, the luxury $500K brownstones across the street not removing the tagging that's been there for a year now, people parking across my driveway and making me late for work, etc., he's always gracious but pretty much says that they're busy dealing with actual crimes. OK, so how about if they start ticketing this kind of stuff? Broken-window theory and all, plus it would make a lot of dough for the city.

If we say a cop makes $300 a day (that would be $78,000 per year, working 5-day weeks), then if one walked around neighborhoods ticketing people for noise violations and parking across driveways and things, they could pay for the extra cop in an hour or so. Give cops the authority to ticket for ISD-type issues like the people who keep their trash can out in front of the house all week and people who don't shovel their walks. Same thing if they had cops driving around and pulling people over for illegal turns, driving without lights on at night, blocking intersections, etc. Not having the money is not an excuse for enforcing laws, since enforcing laws makes money.

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We have strict statutes and most biting laws,
(The needful bits and curbs for headstrong steeds:)
Which for these fourteen years we have let sleep; Even like an overgrown lion in a cave,
That goes not out to prey: now, as fond fathers
Having bound up the threat'ning twigs of birch,
Only to stick it in their children's sight
For terror, not for use; in time the rod
Becomes more mocked than feared; so our decrees,
Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead;
And liberty plucks justice by the nose;
The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
Goes all decorum. . .

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I think you'd find many cops would consider these types of enforcement beneath them. They have "real crime" to fight.

Plus, with the way union negotiations work in order to get the union to allow this to occur they would want something in return (i.e. more money).

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And I don't have time to address all of them, but I can tell you that there are officers who pull over a lot of cars and enforce the loud music ordinances. Those officers are always the ones who get complaints filed against them for racial profliing, civil rights violations and other things that they often times did not intend to do. And I know it sounds like you could simply hire and train them better, but you often find that the higher ups (mayors office, city councilpeople etc) would rather have police respond to complaint based issues and enforce them.

And I would say 90% of drivers tecnically break the law every single time they drive in some regard (crossing the line, speeding, rolling over a line that might not be painted, not turning on red when it is completely safe, not having the registration sticker in the exact spot is is supposed to be in, having dirty or obstructed plates, possible muffler problems, broken lights, failing to slow at an intersection where a person may look like they want to cross.) There are hard ass picky cops out there that will enforce every one of these things and get paid to go to court when you want to appeal them.

The driveway thing should be easy. Call the police and they should show up within a reasonable amount of time. Thats another issue in itself.

And enforcement for revenue is frowned apon as well.

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Not turning on red when it is completely safe is against the law?

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It is if you're black.
Duh.

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A lot of police officers don't know traffic laws very well.

A coworker got pulled over for stopping rather than going through a green light during rush hour, since she would be blocking the intersection, which is illegal, if she were to proceed. Cop pulled her over and harassed her about not knowing what a green light means.

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No I meant to say that you can turn on red if it is "safe" to do so. Very subjective.

So is proceeding through an intersection with a green light with the knowledge that you might cause gridlock. These are often times engineering problems, not enforcement problems. What about the person who stops at the green light but could have made it safely through the intersection? Now they are breaking another law by stopping the free flow of traffic.

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It usually takes the police over an hour to show up. By then, the person blocking my driveway has left, but I've still had to cancel my first client. The one time the person hadn't left by the time the cop showed up two hours later, the cop needed proof that I owned the driveway before calling a tow truck -- the law against parking across a driveway wasn't enough for him.

People wouldn't park across driveways if the cops were willing to enforce it regularly.

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The problem with enforcement for revenue is that it encourages corruption. Look at what's happening with drug war forfeitures. Down in the Southwest, the cops are shaking innocent people down because they get to keep part of the "forfeited" goods. It's highway (patrol) robbery.

I'm sure Boston cops aren't as corrupt as they are in Texas and Missouri, but cops seeing quality of life violations as a revenue source might lead to a cabal of trash-can-opening hoodlums in blue.

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I'm just completely appalled that with the lack of good sidewalk access in that neighborhood just for people that they are allowed to clog up their pedestrian thoroughfares with trash!

I mean, if you tripped on one of those trash bags, it might hurt! I know so because I asked BTD Commissioner Tinlin to throw one under my feet the other day.

Mr. LaMattina, I request a ban on all trash access to sidewalks! This is a danger to the already too-crowded sidewalks of the North End!

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...while riding a Segway? :-)

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Part of the problem is that the City of Boston itself is sending out a message that is inconsistent with the State Sanitary Code.

The State Sanitary Code (105 CMR 410.600) requires that trash be put out no earlier than the day of pick-up (i.e. after midnight).

Right on the , on the other hand, we are told that trash can be put out at 5PM the night before.

So if the city is not even going to state the law correctly (much less enforce it) it's not clear how the problem is going to be fixed.

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Somehow the prior message got mangled; it should have said,

"Right on the City of Boston Website, on the other hand, we are told that trash can be put out at 5PM the night before."

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They could hire some of the Somerville people

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Today's issue falls under the "long standing issue" banner. Segway traffic? No problem, they'll get right on that, since the touring company hasn't contributed sufficiently to anybody's campaign. Trash? Those people give and give big time, those landlords know the ropes! File under "we're working on it" just like in E.B. where the trash would be an asset if tourists came around to peep at it like foliage peepers in NH and ME in the fall. You can count on it being pretty spectacular, every spring, the snow melts, and the trash underneath it is revealed, and, well, you know...they're working on it. In fact, I hear they're going to have a street sweeper come by before street sweeping season even begins! Make sure your car is moved, unless you want to contribute to the city. Now, if they can figure out how to keep the place clean the other 51 weeks of the year, we'll be onto something.

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I don't get the "too early" business. The flyer says no earlier than 5pm the night before -- the blogger said he was out at 8pm the night before. Therefore, no violations for putting out trash too early, correct?

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That's the crux of the problem. The city is misinforming people about the law (the law says not until midnight; the city's flier and website say "5pm") and then on top of that not enforcing either the law or what the flier and website say.

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I'd say this guy just needs to move to Somerville. Much more to his liking up there:
http://www.universalhub.com/2010/what-somervilles-...

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Actually, if you look at the blogger's actual post, you will see that the complaints don't seem to have anything to do with trash being out too early, but with improper packaging - lots and lots of white kitchen bags; some black bags not properly secured or torn by their contents; some loose trash.

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Why does it matter whether the trash bags are black, white, or chartreuse?

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The color is an easy key to the type of bag: trash is supposed to be put out in either a barrel with a secure lid or a securely closed "2-ply" plastic bag, which is basically the standard large black or dark green trash bag. Not reused bags from the store, and not the standard household wastebasket liner bags (such as white "kitchen bags.")

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Actually, the blogger seems to be concerned, not that there are violations, but that there are no repercussions. Why have the law, if the entire North End (or at least the sample documented by the blogger) are going to ignore them? A law is superfluous if blatant disregard for it is accepted.

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It's sad that you took so much time to monitor all this. Even if you report this, the fine will be paid by the building owner, not the actual tenants who are leaving the trash out. Also, as someone who lives in the North End, the homeless rip through all the trash each night/morning anyways. By the time the bags are picked up, most have been rummaged through and ripped apart with trash all over the streets anyways... I believe thats the bigger problem here. I actually separate my trash so its easlier for them to take since I know they will rip through it anyways... And if the proposed time change does ever happen, where trash can only be placed out in the morning, people will never follow this rule. I know for one, I will continue to place my trash out after 8:00 pm. Fine my landlord all you want. Good luck with your quest Adam

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Do kitchen and supermarket bags frequently burst open? If not, then the law should be changed to allow them. Then most people would be in compliance, and we'd save the environmental cost of the second layer of bags.

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I believe the reasoning is that the single-ply bags are too easy for the rats to chew through. Double-ply doesn't completely solve the problem, but it helps.

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No. Rats can chew through steel if they want to (not kidding). The double ply is to hopefully repress odors that would stink up the neighborhood for the day and attract bugs; rodents, large and small; and other hungry/curious mammals.

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We live next to BU graduate housing - they have a wooden fence that they've covered with sheet metal in parts due to rats chewing through the baseboard. Most recently they have burrowed a hole in the concrete. You can hate them - but ya gotta respect anything that can chew through concrete (and fear anything that can chew through steel)!

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I stand corrected. And also grossed out. Nasty little beasts!

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Channel 4 is doing a piece about this story tonight on the 100 o'clock news.

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