Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A meeting of minds with Long Beach's Sanitation Inspector

Keeping the West End commercial district clean has been the number one priority of WEBA since we
first made our case to the City Council in June 2011.

Armed with photographs of city parking lots filled with litter and broken bottles, commercial garbage piled high on the street through much of the day and litter rising ankle deep in the gutters, we urged the council to address these deplorable conditions.

We engaged the help of business owners through the Good Neighbor Award Program and gathered residents to participate in Tidy Day. But as every parent knows, there’s nothing like the threat of punishment to boost motivation.

Last summer, for the first time in Long Beach history, the city appointed a Sanitation Inspector.

Jamel Taylor is a product of Long Beach schools, a graduate of St. John’s University and a twelve year veteran of the Sanitation Department, having worked through the ranks from part time employee to his present position.

Last week, WEBA had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Taylor and discuss his responsibilities, his goals and how his new role has impacted the appearance of our community.

He described his responsibility as concentrating on “commercial voluntary compliance coupled with enforcement actions where appropriate” Failure to sweep sidewalks and gutters could result in fines up to $250.

Jamel Taylor being sworn into his post

While residents are also expected to comply with sanitation codes, Mr. Taylor addresses only “blatant infractions” that “compromise safety” among residents.

Over the past year, he has met with every Long Beach business owner at least once and distributed letters that detail code requirements pertaining to street sweeping and commercial refuse.

Despite these warnings, Mr. Taylor has issued fines to a number of West Beech Street businesses, some more than once. WEBA proposed a meeting with the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce to reinforce the sanitation message to members. Mechanical street sweepers are also part of the arsenal of Long Beach sanitation.

One of the vehicles was destroyed in the Storm so the usual five times a week protocol for Beech Street has now been reduced to three until a replacement machine is purchased. The cleaning is done at about 7:45 am but cars remaining parked on Beech Street can impact the coverage in cleaning the gutters.

WEBA brought up concerns about trash receptacles on Beech Street. Unlined receptacles emit unpleasant odors during the summer months and are quickly overflowing on busy streets. Mr. Taylor proposed monthly power washing and would consider recommending the use of liners during the summer months as well as adding more receptacles.

Some sanitation conditions are actually outside the realm of the Sanitation Department. For example, litter and garbage in the city-owned parking lots is the responsibility of the Street Maintenance Department. And Beach Maintenance is responsible for keeping Beach Park clean. But what about the weeds in the curbs and the litter around the beach entrances?

Weed removal at street curbs is conducted at least twice a year by Street Maintenance workers but, according to the Code of Ordinances, it is actually the responsibility of the property/home owner to keep the gutter (18inches into the street) free of weeds and sidewalks free of cracks.

WEBA suggested that the West End beach entrance attendants also be tasked with keeping the immediate area litter-free and periodically sweeping the beach entrance ramp to prevent sand build-up. This could be efficiently accomplished during the shift change.

Clearly the Department of Public Works has brought a Clean Streets initiative to the forefront both as a quality of life issue for residents and as an economic stimulator for the commercial district. In addition to the appointment of Mr. Taylor, we’ve noticed new trash receptacles chained within the city-owned parking lots and at beach entrances and a general attention to the appearance of the commercial district.

Jamel Taylor’s efforts have heralded a new era in the city’s commitment to the beautification of the West End. Residents are encouraged to contact Mr. Taylor directly with any specific concerns: jtaylor@longbeachny.org or by phone at 431-1000 extension 1011.

But each of us has a responsibility to keep our community clean and respect the rights of our neighbors to enjoy a clean environment.

Cigarette butts are litter and should be deposited in a receptacle, not in the street or around a tree bed.

Plastic bags of trash or pizza boxes should not be left on top of street receptacles preventing others from dropping trash in the opening.

Residential trash should be put out in plastic containers to avoid scavengers.

Litter is not a minor issue. It affects our taxes, our property values and our fragile ecosystem. We have struggled to rebuild our homes and our community. Let’s all do our best to keep it clean.