Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Welcome to Spring….

Today is the official end of the hibernation period for Long Beach. Intrepid residents have begun slipping onto porches and decks to enjoy their morning coffee. Neighbors stop to catch up on the news they missed through the winter months. Bikers and joggers have returned to the boardwalk.

In Spring we walk slower, to savor the fresh air that we missed during the months inside our sealed up home. We observe what we didn’t notice when the days darkened early and our heads were bent down against the cold.

So along with the daffodils and forsythia and budding branches, the litter, the weeds and the neglect are back in full view on West Beech Street.

But the purpose of this post is not to beat the drum about litter but to arm the residents with information about what the City Code of Ordinances says about it; who’s responsible for what and who to call when there’s a problem. Taxes in Long Beach are high enough so it’s more important than ever to make sure that we are getting what we pay for.
Our taxes are to be used, in part, to insure that the Code of the City of Long Beach is enforced, so don’t hesitate for a moment to call the departments listed below to voice your complaint or concern.

It's a win-win: your community will get cleaner and the city will receive much needed revenue from enforcement fines.

Sanitation Code Sec. 23
The sidewalks and curbs, or boardwalk adjacent to and abutting upon each and every commercial, mercantile, business or other establishment in the city shall be kept clean and clear of any trash, refuse or other debris by the owner, operator or licensee of each such establishment. Each owner, operator or licensee of a commercial, mercantile, business or other establishment shall sweep such sidewalk and curb, or boardwalk, and also the gutter and street area adjacent to the curb to a distance of at least eighteen (18) inches from the curb, before 10:00 a.m. each day that such business or establishment is open or operated. All sweepings and other debris shall be collected and removed to private containers* by such owner, operator or licensee.
*not swept into the sewers

Yes, this means that every store owner and property owner is required to sweep not only the sidewalk but the gutter, 18 inches into the street, every morning before 10am.

So, if you are walking down Beech Street at 10:30 am to get a cup of coffee and see discarded cigarette butts, bottles, or any litter or trash call the office of the Sanitation Commissioner, Greg Scott at 432-3132 and give him the address, the time and the condition of the offense. Or, take a photo and e-mail it to GScott@longbeachny.org.

In commercial areas, it shall be unlawful to place any garbage, refuse or ashes upon the sidewalk or street for collection, or to permit such material or containers to remain upon the street prior to 5:00 p.m. or after 10:00 p.m.
This one kind of confuses me. But I know that it means that you can’t leave a garbage bag on the sidewalk on Friday night for sanitation pick-up on Monday morning. Garbage must be put out in reasonable advance of the sanitation pick-up and the empty cans taken off the street immediately after the sanitation dept. emptied the cans. Sidewalks are narrow enough without having to navigate around empty garbage cans left out needlessly.

Any owner or occupant of lands fronting or abutting on any street, highway, traveled road, public land, alley or square, who shall omit to make, maintain or repair the sidewalk, curb and curbstone adjoining, fronting or abutting his land as provided and required by Section 256 and/or Section 256A of the City Charter of the City of Long Beach, shall be guilty of a violation punishable for each such violation as provided in section 1-8 of this Code. Each day such violation continues shall constitute a separate violation.
Don’t wait until you trip, call the Sanitation Dept. to report cracks in the sidewalk or unsafe sidewalk conditions. And that means controlling those nasty weeds that sprout through the concrete.
Corrugated boxes, cardboard, cardboard cartons, pasteboard or similar paper materials are to be broken down and tied securely with twine. Wire or plastic binding should not be used. All bundles should be not larger than thirty-five (35) pounds in weight or four (4) feet in length. The residential community will not be required to separate corrugated materials from their solid waste stream. This provision applies to all commercial, industrial and institutional entities within the jurisdiction of the City of Long Beach.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. There should not be a big load of empty boxes on the sidewalk ever. The boxes should be ALL flattened and tied with twine.
The overflowing trash receptacles and litter, beer bottles and other garbage that accumulates in the city-owned parking lots is the responsibility of Street Maintenance, not the Sanitation Dept. The Supervisor of Street Maintenance is Vincent Deale. His phone number is 431-7174.

Or again, take a photo and e-mail to VDeale@LongBeachny.org with date and address.

Lastly, for a broken window, or other unsafe condition of a building, contact the Building Dept. Commissioner, Scott Kemins at 431-1005 or SKemins@LongBeachny.org with address.

Remember, your taxes entitle you to a safe and clean community. Get your money’s worth. If you see something, say something. Don’t let negligent property owners ruin your Spring stoll.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

West End Beautification joins the Long Beach Patch Blogosphere!

WEBA is proud to announce that we will be guest bloggers on the Long Beach Patch, a site that has been a supporter of our efforts since Day 1 (Thank you, Joe!)

We'll be posting the links on the WEBA site, so be sure to check back often!

Check out our first post here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Death of a Hero

Death of a hero: James Q. Wilson
The cover of Saturday’s New York Times noted the passing of James Q. Wilson, a man whose name may not evoke an immediate reaction but whose work is the cornerstone on which West End Beautification Association (www.westendbeautification.org) was founded.

Mr. Wilson was a social scientist and Harvard researcher on the behavior of police officers and lawbreakers. He developed the strategy that formed the “quality of life” program that was used by Mayor Rudolf Giuliani and Police Commissioner Stratton in New York City. Wilson was also one of the authors of the “broken window” theory.

The theory “proceeds from the presumption, supported by research, that residents’ perception of the neighborhood is based not on whether there is actually a high rate of crime, but on whether the neighborhood appears to be well-tended –that is, whether its residents hold it in mutual regard, uphold the locally accepted obligations of civility and outwardly disdain the flouting of these obligations”.

Real estate agents listen up: It is not the crime statistics that tell the story of a neighborhood, it is a visitor’s perception of how the place looks.

Using a broken window as a metaphor, Mr. Wilson concluded that a broken window, left unrepaired shows that no one cares so when the next person breaks the next window it seems a bit less terrible because the level of neglect has already been established. It becomes easier and easier to continue into criminality and blight because each successive transgression, while seemingly harmless in and off itself becomes a growing pattern of neglect for which no one feels responsible but for which everyone is responsible.

The theory asserts that the solution lies in being intolerant of the “smallest illegalities” If arresting a single drunk on West Beech Street, fining a dog walker who doesn’t scoop the poop or every store owner who ignores sanitation codes seems harsh, failure to do anything about the mounting number of people who continue to flaunt the laws can destroy an entire community.

When WEBA filed for incorporation last Fall, our mission statement was to “improve the aesthetic quality of life in the West End community of Long Beach, NY” But since turning around a community takes a concerted effort by residents, businesses and the City, we began with simply planting flowers so that the neighborhood “appears to be well-tended” and shows that someone cares.

But, as a recent Vice Presidential candidate once colorfully noted, “you can put lipstick on a pig but it is still a pig.”

Please join us in our efforts to bring back a Code Enforcement Officer to the West End. Add your voice to the group of West End residents who brought their quality of life concerns to City Manager Jack Schnirman and the City Council at the Long Beach Listens meeting

Meanwhile, WEBA will honor the memory of James Q. Wilson by continuing our efforts to make the West End the best it can be.