Avella said the department didn’t follow proper procedure when it instituted regulations that made it illegal for resident to place receptacles on the curb for trash pickup before 4 p.m. from October 1 to April 1, and before 5 p.m. the rest of year, the day before a scheduled pickup.
Last Thursday, Avella joined JoAnn Kelly in front of her home at 41-25 170th Street in Flushing to protest a ticket her late husband received last September for violating the rule. The ticket was for $100, and Kelly has refused to pay the fine, even though her appeal was denied.
Kelly’s husband, who was battling several forms of cancer, passed away about two months after receiving the summons. She said the ticket really bothered him, because he was unaware of the regulation.
“We lived here for 40 years, and then he gets a ticket for something he had no idea was against the law,” Kelly said. “He was so upset about it.
Avella said his office has received several complaints about similar tickets being issued, some from residents with unique living situations that rely on the help of others to set out their garbage. That help, Avella argued, might not be able to match their schedule to the schedule of the Department of Sanitation.
He cited the example of an elderly woman he heard from who has her home care worker take out the garbage.
“But she leaves at 2 p.m., so what is she supposed to do?” said Avella. “There has to be some leeway.”
To complicate matters, Avella said last week that DSNY didn’t follow the City Administrative Procedure Act when it instituted and began enforcing the policy over a year ago. Avella said a public notice should have been posted in local newspapers and the City Record, and the public should have been given a chance to comment.
“Somebody [at the department] really screwed up,” said Avella, who called on DSNY to refund any fines collected in connection with the regulation.
But a DSNY spokesperson said the department simply amended a statuary mandate that goes back decades, which states that all refuse must be stored in a building and not placed out until time for removal by the department.
In other words, the change was made to make it easier for New York City residents.
“Using common sense and as a courtesy to New Yorkers,” the spokesperson explained in an email, “the department has exercised discretion in enforcing the law and not required citizens to place their refuse out beginning at 6 a.m., which is the time when Department collection generally begins.”
Avella has contacted the Environmental Control Board, an independent agency responsible for adjusting violations, but was referred back to DSNY. He said he will continue to fight to see the fines rescinded, and in cases where they were already paid, refunded.
“I will continue to pressure the city on this issue until there is a proper resolution,” he said.