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Borough President Pledges to Clean Up Staten Island With Social Media Push

By Nicholas Rizzi | May 11, 2017 3:59pm
 Borough President James Oddo started a new social media campaign,
Borough President James Oddo started a new social media campaign, "Own the 18," to get Staten Islanders to follow the law that requires they clean 18 inches in front of their property.
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DNAinfo/Nicholas Rizzi

STATEN ISLAND — Borough President James Oddo thinks Staten Island is getting too trashy.

Oddo is launching an "Own the 18" campaign to encourage businesses and homeowners to follow the city's law that requires they clean the sidewalk of their property and 18 inches into the street to help drive down litter in the borough.

"This should be happening every day, the reality is, it does not," said Oddo.

"By having a call to arms for one weekend, we can A) educate property owners about the 18-inch law and B) we can enlist more Staten Islanders to help us in this battle against litter."

As part of the push, Oddo started a Facebook event for June 16 to 18 to get more owners to clean 18 inches in front of their property and created a hashtag, #ownthe18, where they can post photos.

City law requires property owners to keep their own sidewalk clean — as well as 18 inches into the street — or be issued a $100 to $300 fine, but the City Journal reported in 1993 that enforcement of it was relaxed by Mayor David Dinkins.

Residents can still face fines for the violation and a spokesman for the Department of Sanitation said enforcement hasn't decreased recently. However, both Oddo and Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said they noticed an increase in violations around the borough.

"When the mayor was out here last month, we took a walking tour with Borough President Oddo and 18-inch violations were apparent," Garcia said in a statement.

"It’s every property owners’ responsibility to keep that area clean and this innovative event will both remind and encourage Staten Islanders to pitch in."

Oddo said he's not advocating for more fines, but trying to get Staten Islanders to voluntarily follow the law with the new campaign. He called on local elected officials to sign on — with Councilman Steven Matteo already on board — and plans to host more events around awareness of the 18-inch law.

Since he took office in 2014, Oddo has made a strong push to clean up the borough, including hiring a dedicated clean team to focus on problem areas.

"We need more help, we need more Staten Islanders to step up and be part of the solution," said Oddo. "I need that because I think there's a moral imperative to do that, but there is a legal requirement to do that."