WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Staffers should be specifically hired to oversee the removal of illegal clothing donation bins that have proliferated on the streets of New York City in recent years, an uptown councilman said.
“As hard as we have been working, the bins are not being removed quickly enough," he said in a letter to the Sanitation Department last week.
"In instances where they are removed, they reappear almost immediately in another area of the community. Most concerning about these bins is the unsanitary conditions they create on the blocks where they are placed.”
The bins often have signs or stickers on the outside that suggest donations will benefit charity. However, most bins are owned by for-profit clothing resale companies.
It is illegal for businesses to place the bins on city property such as sidewalks, but it can prove very difficult to have them removed, Rodriguez noted.
The Department of Sanitation must give the owner 30 days notice before removing a bin. Owners often move the bins just before the 30-day deadline and place them in similar locations nearby, effectively starting the clock on the removal process all over again, the councilman said.
In addition, bin owners are not fined for their violations.
Last month, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito introduced legislation that would give the Sanitation Department more power to deal with these offenders. Under the proposed law, the department would be able to immediately remove an illegally placed bin and fine the violator up to $500.
Rodriguez, who has signed on to the proposed legislation, has also wrote the letters to the Sanitation commissioner and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance asking that each agency appoint a dedicated staff person to oversee the removal process.
“We need someone who can dedicate the time to seeing the removal process through from beginning to end,” he said.
A Department of Sanitation spokesman didn’t specifically address Rodriguez's suggestion to appoint a dedicated staffer.
“The department is working diligently to address the Clothing Bin concerns of the residents in Council Member Rodriguez’s district and we have contacted the councilman’s office and recommended the best way for the public to report a bin is by calling 3-1-1 or utilizing the department's online service request form,” he said.
A spokeswoman for the DA's office said that they had received the letter, but hadn’t yet had a chance to consider the request.