PHILIP A. AMICONE CITY HALL
MAYOR YONKERS, NEW YORK 10701-3883
PHILIP A. ZISMAN Ph: 914-377-7000
INSPECTOR GENERAL Fax: 914-377-6990
CITY OF YONKERS
TO: Philip A. Amicone, Mayor
Chuck Lesnick City Council President
Sandy Annabi, City Council Member
All City Council Members
FROM: Philip A. Zisman, Inspector General
SUBJECT: Code Enforcement Investigation
DATE: June 28, 2006
The Inspector General’s Office has conducted a review of allegations and
concerns set forth in a May 1, 2006 letter of City Council Member Sandy Annabi.
This memorandum sets forth our findings.
Council Member Annabi’s Letter
In a May 1, 2006 letter, Council Member Sandy Annabi asked the
Inspector General’s Office to investigate whether certain residents of Southwest
Yonkers in the Nodine Hill and South Broadway/Riverdale Avenue
neighborhoods were “being victimized by unfair and excessive ticketing for minor
code violations.” Specifically, Ms. Annabi stated that one particular City Code
Enforcement Officer had targeted a few select property owners by issuing
excessive and harassing tickets for failure to keep their properties and sidewalks
free of litter and debris.
Council Member Annabi believed that the tickets represented a “pattern of
possible discrimination – unfairly targeting minorities…” including minority owned
homes, buildings and houses of worship. The letter stated that the complaints
came from residents who, in most cases, live in the cited properties, were not
slumlords, and tended to their properties on a daily basis, but were unable to
control what happened during the day because they were at work. In one
instance, one person allegedly received more than 44 infractions and warrants
for arrest. According to the letter, a meeting to address the problem with the
Bureau of Code Enforcement (“Bureau”) proved to be fruitless. A copy of the May
1, 2006 letter is attached.
In a follow up meeting to review the allegations in the lette r, Council
Member Annabi provided the Inspector General’s Office with the names and
addresses of thirteen property owners who had complained to her office. At that
time, Ms. Annabi asked that the Inspector Ge neral try to answer two questions:
1) For the purposes of code enforcement, how do you define “litter” so that
responsible property owners can meet their obligations to keep the outside of
their properties clean and i n compliance with the City Code? And 2) How do you
protect responsible property owners, who are trying to keep their properties
clean, from receiving excessive ticketing for litter on their properties and
Council Member Annabi has proposed legislation that requests the City’s
Law Department to develop recommendations to help protect victims of illegal
dumping, and to provide for the use of warnings, and the establishment of
specific guidelines pertaining to litter, which would clarify a property owner’s
Scope and Methodology
In conducting a preliminary review into the allegations in Council Member
Annabi’s letter, we quickly discovered that the problems related to litter and
dumping in the Nodine Hill and South Broadway/Riverdale Avenue corridor were
complex and did not immediately lend themselves to easy solutions. In order to
address the specific allegations, and offer meaningful suggestions as to how
conditions could be improved, we believed that it was necessary to first describe
the nature of the litter and dumping problem, and then set forth the structural
framework under which the City government provides sanitation services and
In our investigation we conducted extensive interviews with City officials
and employees, property owners who received the allegedly harassing tickets,
and for background and comparison purposes, officials from the City of New York
and the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials. We also
reviewed thousands of pages of documents provided to us from the Bureau of
Code Enforcement and Council Member Annabi.
On May 17, 2006 the Inspector General and staff were taken on two tours
of the neighborhoods where the tickets that are the subject of the complaints
were issued. The morning tour was conducted by Council Member Annabi. The
afternoon tour was conducted by Code Enforcement Officer (“CEO”) Stella
Schofield and Code Enforcement Supervisor Albert De Pierro. The tours were
purposely scheduled for the same day, because conditions relating to the
accumulation of litter and debris can quickly change. The Inspector General and
staff also toured the area with the Deputy Commissioner of the Department of
Public Works (“DPW”) on May 22, 2006, and on June 6, 2006 visited specific
properties owned by complainants who spoke with the Inspector General’s
Summary of the Findings
Based on our review of the facts and circumstances surrounding the
allegations and concerns in Council Member Annabi’s May 1, 2006 letter, we
determined the following:
1. The Allegations of Discrimination were not Substantiated
The allegations that the Code Enforcement Bureau and a specific CEO
engaged in discrimination in the issuance of sanitation related summonses
are unsubstantiated. There is no evidence to support the allegation that there
is a pattern of possible discrimination unfairly targeting minorities. We found
that there were well documented, non-discriminatory reasons for the
summonses that were issued.
As a general matter, property owners did not allege discrimination, but
instead blamed litter and debris problems on a combination of factors
including irresponsible tenants, poor garbage collection, windy conditions,
and people engaging in illegal dumping. They believed that they should not
be given tickets for conditions they could not control or, at a minimum, should
be given warnings when violations occurred. We were not persuaded by
The applicable law pertaining to the obligations of property owners makes
clear that property owners are responsible for the litter and other unsanitary
conditions on their properties regardless of who or what created the condition.
Landlords – who brought the majority of the complaints we reviewed – receive
economic benefits from their ownership of income producing, residential
property, and must, therefore meet the minimum requirements of the law,
regardless of the associated costs or inconvenience. The City should not
have to give a property owner a warning every time his or her property fails to
meet minimum sanitation code standards.
2. There is a Need for Clarity in Enforcement Policy and Procedure
We agreed with Council Member Annabi’s assessment that policies and
procedures with respect to the enforcement of litter violations need to be
clarified. We recommend that the City publish a pamphlet that clearly sets
forth the rights and obligations of property owners with respect to the City’s
enforcement of the sanitation codes.
Our recommendation is modeled on information found in a New York City
publication. After reviewing the New York City policy and procedure and
considering it in light of the conditions that exist in Yonkers, we found that
Yonkers code enforcement efforts could specifically benefit from: 1)
establishing an “enforcement routing” policy which limits the time when
littering tickets can be issued; 2) publishing photographs of examples of
typical conditions that constitute sanitation violations; and 3) increasing fines
to create a greater incentive for owners to keep their properties clean.
Other than for the purposes of increasing fines, we do not believe that it is
necessary for the City to adopt new legislation related to the enforcement of
sanitation violations. All that is needed is a better understanding of a property
owner’s legal obligations and how the City will enforce the existing laws.
3. There is a Need for Additional Enforcement Strategies
We found that despite the City’s best enforcement efforts, some property
owners are simply scofflaws who are unwilling to live up to their obligations
with respect to meeting the standards o f the City Code. We believe that the
Law Department should implement new legal strategies to address issues
Specifically, 1) In appropriate circumstances, the Corporation Counsel
should request that the Police Department enforce arrest warrants; 2)
Nuisance abatement actions should be commenced against property owners
to address large scale dumping and other chronic sanitation problems; and 3)
Civil actions seeking large civil penalties should be commenced against
property owners who demonstrate a continuing unwillingness to meet their
obligations of keeping their properties clean.
4. Three Additional Recommendations
In conducting our interviews with complaining property owners, we asked
each what they believed could be done better to control litter and illegal
dumping. Some of their suggestions were simple and would be relatively easy
to implement. We believe that the suggestions should be collected, perhaps
by Council Member Annabi’s Office, and forwarded to the Mayor’s Office for
review and consideration by the appropriate City agencies.
DPW should study whether its policy of not accepting construction debris
and bulk items at the City dump from residents who live in buildings with more
than six units is contributing to the illega l dumping problems in the City.
Finally, the Code Enforcement Bureau should change its policy of
permanently assigning CEOs to patrol a particular quadrant of the City, and
implement a policy of rotating CEOs on at least an annual basis. Such a
policy will lead to the CEOs having a better familiarity with the entire City,
promote uniformity in CEO enforcement practices, and provide a necessary
internal control to help ensure the integrity of enforcement operations.
Findings of Fact
The Dumping and Litter Problem
Our tours of the Nodine Hill and South Broadway/Riverdale Avenue
neighborhoods revealed that there is a significant dumping and litter
problem in these areas of the City. The problem is most acute on Nodine
Hill. According to DPW officials, Nodine Hill has some of the worst
dumping and litter problems in the City.
The problem appears to have three root causes. First, there is substantial
illegal dumping occurring throughout these neighborhoods. Materials that
are being dumped in vacant lots and sidewalks abutting private property
include construction debris, household bulk items and household trash.
Second, throughout these densely populated areas, and especially on
Nodine Hill, many property owners of wood frame buildings with
approximately 3-8 dwelling units appear not to be providing their tenants
with secure and adequate places to dispose of their household trash. 1
Third, some tenants are not properly disposing of their garbage even if
adequate places for disposal are provided by their landlords. Some
tenants leave their garbage in front of or on the side of their buildings in an
unsecured manner. Also, pedestrians and people in vehicles regularly
litter in these neighborhoods.
As a result of improper garbage disposal, household garbage, often
contained in flimsy supermarket plastic bags or garbage cans without
secure lids, is being left in front and side yards before being placed at the
curb for scheduled collection. This unsecured and improperly stored
garbage is vulnerable to people and animals scavenging, and otherwise
being disturbed so that the shopping bags are opened or break, or the
garbage cans overflow or are knocked over. This causes garbage and
litter to spread onto the streets and sidewalks.
Some property owners make an effort to keep their properties clean.
However, others are not properly cleaning the sidewalks and gutters that
abut their properties when debris and litter are present.
Windy conditions frequently contribute to the spread of litter and debris on
the streets and sidewalks.
We saw two dumping grounds in the Nodine Hill area that presented
serious public health and safety concerns. DPW identified two particular
vacant lots located off of the “Elm Street Steps” as the worst dumping
condition in the City and described it as an illegal landfill. (Since the
See Yonkers City Code §§91-16 and 17 (requiring property owners to provide receptacles wit h
lids to properly secure litter, garbage and debris) Larger apartment buildings appear to be doing
a better job at providing adequate facilities for their tenants to properly dispose of their garbage.
Inspector General’s Office reported the dumping conditions to the Mayor’s
Office, the City has been successful in persuading the property owners at
the Elm Street Steps location to clean up their properties. 2 The other dump
site, located in the backyard of a boarded up property on Oak Street,
The City’s Garbage Collection and Clean-up Programs
The City collects curbside garbage twice a week and collects recyclables
including glass, plastic bottles and newspapers once a week. Street
sweepers clean area streets once a week. In addition, the City also
regularly cleans City-owned lots and rights-of-way3 and privately owned
lots as necessary, subject to limited resources. 4
DPW has also sponsored special programs in Nodine Hill and other areas
of the City, including assigning Senior Rangers and Pride-In-Work workers
to conduct litter patrols, installing cameras to catch and deter illegal
dumping, working with community based organizations such as
Groundworks Yonkers 5 and Habitat for Humanity to clean lots and
transform them into community gardens, conducting an annual Spring
clean up day, and placing dumpsters in the community on certain dates to
encourage the proper disposal of bulk items.
Even with the City’s ongoing efforts, the vacant lots and other City rights-
of-way, quickly become overgrown and subject to dumping between
Garbage collection in these areas is often made difficult because of the
condition of and type of garbage that the City’s Environmental
Maintenance Workers (“EMWs”) find while on their collection routes.
Construction debris is not subject to pick up on collection day. Thus, if
such debris is put out for collection, it is not picked up by the City, and, if
not removed by the property owner, can remain on the street and or
sidewalk indefinitely. 6
It is our understanding that the property owners were threatened with arrest and/or other legal
City rights-of-way include certain alleys and connecting stairways.
According to DPW there are 30 full time workers responsible for cleaning weeds and debris
from vac ant lots and City-owned rights-of-way.
The City and Groundwork Yonkers have joined together to form a partnership to use COMNE T
(comput erized neighborhood environmental tracking) to survey neighborhoods and doc ument
problems on a handheld computer. Senior citizens and high school students will canvass a target
area and input any conditions needing attention int o the computer. The data will then be
downloaded and sent to DPW for action or appropriate referral. Phase I of this project will target
the Nodine Hill area.
According to DPW policy, residents in 1-6 family buildings are authorized to bring construction
debris and bulk items to the City dump on Saw Mill River Road. However, residents of buildings
of more than 6 units are forbidden to use the dump. The larger properties are considered
commercial properties, which are required to use private, commercial carters for the removal of
construction debris and bulk items.
According to DPW officials, the policy of the Department is that EMWs
must pick up all garbage, other than construction debris, that is placed at
the curb on the night before collection even if not properly stored in
garbage cans or sealed trash bags. 7 This directive is difficult to comply
with when garbage containers break, overflow, or are otherwise left
opened by people or animals. Sometimes not all loose garbage gets
picked up on collection days.
DPW works closely with the City’s Bureau of Code Enforcement in trying
to address sanitation issues. DPW employees who run the City’s Help
Line and Action Center, as well as senior DPW management, regularly
report illegal dumping and other garbage related conditions to the Bureau
to commence enforcement activity. Also, the Bureau regularly calls DPW
to address unsanitary conditions in neighborhoods throughout the City.
The Inspector General’s Office reviewed detailed records of these
exchanges that are maintained by Code Enforcement.
The City is making efforts to combat illegal dumping. On Nodine Hill and
other neighborhoods, surveillance cameras have been installed in certain
areas where dumping has been common. The City also adopted
legislation imposing more severe fines, including vehicle forfeiture, for
those who are convicted of engaging in illegal dumping. These anti-
dumping efforts are having a positive effect on curtailing dumping at the
locations monitored by the cameras.
The City’s Enforcement Authority and Legal Precedent
One of the primary functions of local government is to enforce State and
local laws which establish standards to ensure that buildings and
properties are maintained in healthful and sanitary conditions.
Under applicable State law and the City of Yonkers’ Administrative Code,
it is the primary responsibility of the property owner to ensure that they
meet minimum sanitary standards for their properties.
With respect to litter, garbage, dumping, graffiti and other sanitation
related issues, the Yonkers City Code provides a comprehensive statutory
scheme of the standards that property owners must meet in order to avoid
being cited for violations of applicable Code provisions. Under the City
Charter, the sanitation provisions of the various Codes are enforced by the
City’s Bureau of Code Enforcement.
With respect to keeping sidewalks and gutters clean, §91-34 of the City
Code is the provision that establishes the requirements for property
owners to maintain their sidewalks, yards and alleys “free from garbage,
refuse, litter, debris, and other offensive material.” The duty to keep the
sidewalk clean extends one and one-half feet from the curbstone into the
Under the City Code garbage to be picked up by the City must be in recept acles that weigh less
than 50 pounds.
New York State courts have consistently ruled that property o wners are
required to maintain clean premises, regardless of who or what caused
the condition. See e.g. Papts Food Corp v. City of New York, 107 A.D.2d
643 (1st Dept. 1985); People v. Eisen, (77 Misc. 2d 1044(Sup. Ct. New
The City Code provides that the City can enforce code violations by
seeking both criminal and civil penalties from property owners who fail to
meet applicable standards. See, Yonkers City Code Article III, §§ 1-21-34.
The Bureau of Code Enforcement Operations
The Code Enforcement Bureau was created in 1997 during Mayor John
Spencer’s administration. Mayor Spencer wanted to increase enforcement
throughout the City to better control graffiti, litter and other unsanitary
conditions. Prior to the creation of the Bureau, sanitation summonses
were issued by enforcement officers assigned to DPW.
According to the City’s website, the main objective of the Bureau is “to
educate, monitor and enforce the City Code to insure the health, safety
and cleanliness of our City.”
The Department is managed by Deputy Director of Code Enforcement
Nora Knopf, who reports to the Deputy Commissioner of Finance and
Executive Director of Enforcement Frank McGovern. 8 There are three
Code Enforcement Officers, who patrol the City streets and issue
summonses and warnings; one CEO supervisor; and three operations
support staff. The Bureau’s budget for fiscal year 2007 is $578,143.
In 2005, the Bureau issued a total of 6,086 tickets, 4,319 written warnings
and 2,293 verbal warnings to property owners for failing to meet their
obligations under the City Code. Of the tickets that were issued, according
to Deputy Director Knopf approximately 60% were paid. This generated
approximately $130,000 in City revenue. 9
In explaining the philosophy of the Bureau of Code E nforcement, Mr.
McGovern stated that the objective of the Bureau is to promote the
cleanliness of the City. The Code Enforcement Bureau is not an income
producing department, and CEOs are not under pressure to issue tickets.
Instead, verbal and written warnings and tickets are the tools available to
CEOs to help achieve the goal of keeping the City clean and holding
property owners accountable for meeting the minimum standards in the
City Code. The CEOs that we interviewed echoed Mr. McGovern’s
sentiments, and stated that the number of tickets that they issue each day
is not a factor in determining whether they are properly performing their
For enforcement purposes the City is divided into quadrants. Each of the
CEOs, including the supervisor, is responsible for enforcement in a
Mr. McGovern also manages the City’s Parking Violations and Consumer Protection Bureaus.
The Bureau projects that revenues for fiscal year 2006 will be approximately $200,000.
permanently assigned quadrant, which they patrol on a daily basis. When
absences occur, the other CEOs cover the quadrant of the absent CEO on
an as needed basis. In addition to patrol, the CEOs also respond to
specific complaints and calls for enforcement that the Bureau receives.
The three members of the Bureau’s operational support staff respond to
inquiries and complaints from the public and other City Departments , and
perform a wide-variety of office operations. 10 We reviewed the Bureau’s
records which showed that 1,262 complaints and inquiries were received
from December 2005 through May 12, 2006. 11
Of the four CEOs currently working for the Bureau, two – CEO Stella
Schofield, the CEO assigned to the quadrant that includes Nodine Hill and
the South Broadway/Riverdale Avenue corridor, and CEO Supervisor
Albert De Pierro – have served as CEOs since the inception of the Bureau
in 1997. Brian Burke has been a CEO for approximately four years, and
the newest CEO is Theresa Santana who has been on the job for nine
The typical daily routine of a CEO includes patrolling their quadrant of the
City looking for violations, and responding to complaints and other calls for
code enforcement. Decisions about issuing a ticket and other information
regarding each particular stop or activity are recorded on the CEO’s Daily
Activity Report, which becomes a permanent Bureau record. Near the end
of each workday, the CEOs return to the office and research the name
and address of property owners who are designated to receive written
warnings or summonses.
In addition to patrolling his quadrant, Supervising CEO De Pierro reviews
the Daily Activity Reports, prepares weekly status reports for the Deputy
Director, prepares the CEOs’ payroll, and gives out special assignments
resulting from complaints received. The Supervising CEO also responds
to residents’ requests to speak to a supervisor and will lend back up
support to the other CEOs as required.
The Legal Process
Sanitation summonses are sent to the property owners through the mail. 12
The tickets notify the recipient of a court date at which time the stated
violations are scheduled to be adjudicated. To avoid making a court
appearance, property owners can plead guilty through the mail and pa y a
Specific tasks of the operational support staff include: ans wering telephones, creating work
orders, performing data entry of daily tickets and warnings, sending out warrant and corporate
default judgment letters for non-appearance in court, and res earc hing ownership of cited
Typical communications to the Bureau include: requests for information from residents, calls to
report dangerous or unsanitary conditions, calls to report illegal dumping, referrals from the DPW
Action Center and Help Line, and calls from residents who want to pay their tickets without
making court appearanc es.
Official warnings are also mailed; CEOs also give verbal warnings when on patrol.
With respect to summonses that are not resolved ahead of time, the City’s
Law Department prosecutes them in Yonkers City Court. 13 Court
appearance dates, as provided on the summonses, are approximately 4 or
6 weeks after the date of the violation. According to Senior Associate
Corporation Counsel Lawrence Porcari, the City attorney who prosecutes
the tickets, on a typical court calendar there are approximately 200 City
Code Enforcement tickets. 14
Mr. Porcari stated that on the initial return date in court, defendants
appear on only 25% to 33% of the tickets that are scheduled for any given
day. In almost all cases in which a defendant appears, the matter is
settled without a trial.
For matters in which individual defendants do not appear in court, the
Code Enforcement Bureau identifies the matters as subject to a warrant to
be issued for the defendants’ arrest. Thereafter, the Code Enforcement
Bureau sends letters informing the defendants that there are pending
warrants that could be issued for their arrest, and the defendants are
given a second opportunity to appear in court. Approximately 50% of
those receiving the warrant warning letters appear in court to resolve their
For those who do not appear, their names are added to a warrant
database. People whose names appear in this database are subject to
arrest for failing to appear in court. The Law Department has not
requested that the Police Department execute warrants against those
property owners who have failed to appear in court on sanitation related
With respect to defendant corporations that fail to appear in court, a notice
of a corporate default judgment is sent to the corporation, and corporation
is given a second opportunity to appear. Thereafter, if the corporation
again fails to appear, the corporate default judgments are entered into the
Bureau’s database, but no further action is taken.
Although the City Code authorizes the City to commence civil actions ,
which can lead to the imposition of large fines against property owners
who are found liable, the Law Department has not brought such
proceedings in sanitation related matters.
In order to streamline enforcement and eliminate the need to prosec ute tickets in City Court, the
City has proposed that the State Legislature authorize the City to create an administrative
adjudication bureau. This would allow the City to pros ecute code enforcement tickets in a City
created administrative tribunal. The adjudication bureau would process code enforcement tickets
in the same manner in which parking tickets are currently processed. New York City and Buffalo
currently have adjudication bureaus. The State Legislature, however, has not yet approved the
required legislation for Yonkers.
According to Deputy Director Knopf, of the 200 matters on the weekly calendar, approximately
100-150 are Code Enforcement Bureau tickets issued by CEOs. The remaining tickets have been
issued by police offic ers for various criminal violations.
Review of Complaints made to Council Member Annabi
Council Member Annabi provided us with a list of thirteen property owners
in her District who had complaints about tickets they had received on their
properties. Seven agreed to speak to the Inspector General. 15 Set forth below is
a summary of the ticket history, testimony of the property owners and CEOs
before the Inspector General regarding the tickets, and a summary of the
Inspector General’s site visits to a sample of the complainants’ properties. All
interviews of complainants and CEOs were tape recorded and conducted under
From January 23, 2003, through May 5, 2006, City records indicate that
the City issued 80 sanitation related summonses and 5 warnings for 15
properties owned by Mr. Fakhoury. Eight tickets were paid; 2 were
withdrawn; 4 are pending; and 66 have been designated as “warrant” for
non-appearance in court. 16
Testimony of Albert Fakhoury
Owns 15 properties on Nodine Hill: most between 4 and 8 units, several
are unimproved lots.
Believes that in the last two years he has received an increase in tickets.
He used to pay them, but has stopped.
He has only spoken to CEO Schofield one time three or four years ago,
when in court.
Has no direct knowledge of discrimination in the issuance of tickets, but
heard from someone whose name he did not want to disclose, that CEO
Schofield was targeting the Arab Community for summonses, and that she
stated that they were rich Arabs and could afford to pay. Mr. Fakhoury
stated he did not hear the alleged slur and had no proof of whether such a
comment was ever made.
Blamed the dirty conditions in the neighborhood on the fact that it is a
Claimed that the garbage collectors are not neat, and then tickets are
issued for garbage that is not picked up.
Two other alleged complainants declined to meet with the Ins pector General, a third called our
office after our fact finding had been concluded. Informal statements of these property owners
were taken over the telephone. No material questions or new information was raised in the
telephone interviews, which would alter the conclusions of this report.
Summonses listed for all properties date back to 2003, when the Bureau of Code Enforcement
established a comprehensive database for all tickets and warnings issued.
Claimed to have a roving superintendent who keeps his properties clean,
and that he is also at his buildings six days a week.
Stated that he works cooperatively with the Building Department
concerning building code violations, but that the Code Enforcement
Bureau is unreasonable.
Stated that if he were given a warning, he would come and clean his
Testimony of CEOs
Stella Schofield stated that the condition of the streets and sidewalks
surrounding Mr. Fakhoury properties clearly warranted the tickets that
She stated that she never spoke with Mr. Fakhoury, and understood that
he had never contacted the Code Enforcement Bureau to try to address
the problems that had led to him being cited so many times.
She assumed that he just did not care and was a scofflaw.
The majority of his tickets were for problems with his Linden Street
properties, in particular 47 Linden Street, which, according to Schofield
was never kept clean, and garbage was not secured.
The only time CEO Schofield saw 47 Linden Street clean was after Mr.
Fakhoury registered his complaint with Council Member Annabi, and the
story was reported in the media.
She was aware that many tickets that she issued to Mr. Fakhoury were in
warrant status. She said that she did not give the Fakhoury properties
warnings because there was no point to it if he did not respond to the
CEO Supervisor Albert De Pierro stated that he gave Mr. Fakhoury a
written warning on a day that he was covering CEO Schofield’s quadrant.
He said that if he had been aware of the history of the owner’s
noncompliance, he would have issued a summons instead of a warning.
Conditions on Inspector General’s Site Visit
The Inspector General conducted a site visit to Mr. Fakhoury’s properties
located at 44, 46, 47, 48 and 50 Linden Street on May 17, 2006 in both the
morning and afternoon.
At 47 Linden, we saw one overflowing, unsecured garbage can in a low
fenced area, which abutted the sidewalk. There were also numerous open
plastic grocery bags full of garbage placed in and around the garbage can.
This condition was clearly unsanitary and could have easily led to garbage
being spread onto the street, sidewalk and abutting properties.
Across the street, at 46 and 48 Linden, two lots which make up a parking
lot that abuts a multi-family house at 50 Linden, we saw unsecured
garbage and loose litter to justify a summons.
The conditions did not materially change from the morning to the
Richard Sperandio, President Stable Realty
From March 19, 2003, to March 15, 2006, the City issued 25 summonses
and 3 warnings to Stable Realty: 12 tickets were paid; 3 were withdrawn; 2
were given a 1 year condition discharge; 1 was mailed to the incorrect
address; 4 were designated “corporate default judgment”; 1 was
designated “warrant”, and 2 tickets were pending.
Testimony of Richard Sperandio17
Owns three apartment buildings: with 10, 18 and 15 apartments.
Believed that CEOs were unreasonable and abusing their power. He did
not, however, believe that they were discriminating against him.
Stated that he was a responsible landlord and maintained his properties.
Has two roving superintendents responsible for garbage disposal and
keeping property and sidewalk areas clean.
Supers inspected the buildings everyday and he also made regular
inspections of his properties.
Stated that he provided proper places for his tenants to dispose of their
Stated that some of his tenants did not properly dispose of their household
garbage, and instead of placing it in receptacles that he provided, they
would leave it in the front of the b uilding.
Non-tenants also littered in front of his building, and he has also been the
victim of illegal dumping.
Claimed that he could not have someone watching the properties 24 hours
a day to ensure that they were clean when the CEOs inspected.
Stated that if he was given a warning he would then clean the property,
and that there was no need to give him tickets.
Testimony of CEOs
CEO Brian Burke issued the tickets to the Stable Realty properties located
on Celli Place and Woodworth Avenue. CEO Schofield issued the tickets
to the Elliott Avenue property.
We also reviewed correspondence between Mr. Sperandio and the Code Enforcement Bureau.
In letters dated April 11 and May 25 2006, Mr. Sperandio complained about how he believed
the CEOs to be unprofessional, and criticized the Bureau for not cooperating with him. He stated
that he believed he should be issued a warning when conditions warranted and only given a ticket
if he failed to clean his property aft er the warning was issued.
CEO Burke issued a series of 9 tickets from January 5, 2005 through
December 5, 2005, on the Woodworth Avenue property. Most of the
tickets were for putting garbage out early on collection days.
The problems at the Woodworth Avenue property have stopped. CEO
Burke attributes this to his enforcement efforts.
CEO Burke explained that in response to a complaint from the City’s
Action Center, on February 1, 2006, he responded to Celli Place and
issued summonses to seven properties for extensive litter, debris, graffiti,
and high weeds. (CEO Burke provided us with contemporaneous
photographs taken on February 1, 2006, which sho wed significant
amounts of litter and debris on the sidewalks and curb abutting 9 Celli
Place, as well as graffiti on the walls and door.)
Upon his return to the location on February 22, 2006, the conditions on the
Stable Realty property at 9 Celli Place had not been corrected, thus, a
second round of tickets were issued.
On subsequent visits on March 1, 8, and 15, 2006, conditions on the
Stable Realty property were improved but violations still existed, additional
tickets were issued.
There are currently no problems at 9 Celli Place because a new
superintendent appears to be taking proper care of the building.
CEO Burke had several conversations with Mr. Sperandio regarding the
summonses. Mr. Sperandio requested that he be given a telephone call
when his properties needed to be cleaned before tickets were issued.
Mr. Burke stated that he told Mr. Sperandio that it was not feasible to
issue telephone warnings.
According to CEO Burke, he could not possibly call all property owners
and give them verbal warnings, and he would not single out one owner for
special treatment. He stated that Mr. Sperandio knew what his obligations
under the sanitation codes were, and therefore, repeated warnings were
not appropriate. CEO Burke had referred this matter to his supervisor.
The tickets issued to Stable Realty in 2006, were sent to an old address in
Elmsford, which had been used when the 2005 tickets were issued. CEO
Burke recognized that Mr. Sperandio may not have received all the tickets
that were issued.
With respect to the tickets issued to the Elliott Avenue property, CEO
Schofield stated that the two 2006 tickets were for “garbage out early”.
Both tickets were paid. The prior ticket was from 2003.
Conditions on Inspector General’s Site Visit
At 9 Celli Place (aka 205 South Waverly) we noticed a small amount of
litter on the sidewalk and in the gutter. Construction was taking place on
South Waverly Street. We also noticed litter and debris on the premises,
including on the roof of a one story garage.
At 68-70 Elliott Avenue, we noted litter on the curb and sidewalk, and one
unsecured plastic garbage can was behind a low fence in front of the
building and the can was overflowing with plastic garbage bags and other
Received two tickets: one on April 25, 2005, and a second on April 3,
2006. The first ticket was given a 1 year conditional discharge; the second
ticket is pending.
Testimony of Betty Cristobal
Owns a two-family, owner occupied house with one tenant.
Claimed to be a responsible property owner who properly disposes of her
garbage and keeps her property clean. Provided pictures of her property
that showed it to be well maintained.
Lives on a street where trash and litter is a problem.
Recognized that the problem with illegal dumping on her street has
improved since the City installed a camera in a known dumping area.
Believes tickets were issued for leftover garbage from garbage collection
day. She claimed no one was home to clean it up because her family
was either at work or school.
She is on dialysis and incapable of cleaning her sidewalk herself.
Believes that she should be given a warning if there is a problem with
litter in front of her house.
Did not believe she was being discriminated against, but thought the
tickets were unfair.
Testimony of CEOs
CEO Schofield stated that with respect to the April 25, 2006 ticket, on that
day, that block of Victor Street was very dirty and that summonses for the
same offenses were also issued to 43, 47, 51 and 53 Victor Street.
She stated that when a whole street is dirty for more than one day it is her
practice to issue summonses and not warnings.
As a general matter if streets and sidewalks are left dirty after a garbage
collection day, she does not give tickets on the collection day in order to
give owners time to clean. She usually returns the next day and will issue
summonses for trash that is at least one day old.
Consistent with her practice she stated that the tickets on Victor Street
were issued on a Tuesday and that the collection day was Monday.
With respect to Ms. Cristobal’s complaint, CEO Schofield stated that
because she did not have a history of tickets, Ms. Cristobal could have
called the Code Enforcement Bureau and the ticket could have been
administratively converted to a written warning.
Conditions on Inspector General’s Site Visit
The two family property was well kept. Garbage was secured in covered
cans in the front yard.
No tickets issued from 2003 to present.
Testimony of Frank DeMuro
Used to own four properties on Nodine Hill. Claims he sold them in 1999
and 2000 because of excessive code enforcement.
Claimed to have complained to Mayor Spencer but nothing happened.
Wanted to speak to the Inspector General based on the recent publicity
about the problems with code enforcement.
Had a problem with CEO Schofield. Claims they had an argument and
then she began to give him excessive tickets.
Thought that there was selective enforcement because he knew police
officers who owned buildings that did not get tickets.
Blamed the garbage problems in the area on the wind, the people who
lived there, and illegal dumpers.
Claimed that he kept his properties as clean as possible, but could not be
present 24 hours a day to see that trash was not improperly placed on his
Testimony of CEOs
CEO Schofield recalled that Mr. DeMuro used to be a property owner in
her quadrant, and still lived in the City. She had no recollection of specific
Conditions on Inspector General’s Site Visit
The Inspector General did not conduct a site visit to Mr. DeMuro’s
property because he is no longer the owner.
From January 13, 2003, through May 5, 2006, received 31 summonses:
16 were paid; 4 were withdrawn; 4 are pending; 2 were given conditional
discharges; 4 were returned for improper address; and 1 was designated
for a warrant.
Testimony of Anna Marchetti 18
Owns 6 properties in Yonkers with 6, 18, 13, 31, 26 and 9 units. It is a
family run business that has owned the properties from 6 to over 20 years.
Has had a problem with debris and litter on the sidewalk in front of some
of her properties, even though her husband cleans the sidewalks each
Feels that the City code enforcement efforts are discriminating against
property owners, because she believes the residents and people in the
area are responsible for the garbage and litter. She stated that tenants do
not properly dispose of their garbage and are not being held accountable.
Stated that she has one superintendent who lives in one of her buildings
and travels to the other buildings on a daily basis. Her husband also works
in the buildings full time.
Stated that she pays her tickets rather than contest them because it was
easier than going to court.
Claims that she had difficulty dealing with DPW regarding bulk pick ups.
Testimony of CEOs
Tickets to Ms. Marchetti’s properties were issued by both CEO Schofield
and CEO Supervisor De Pierro.
CEO Schofield confirmed the validity of the tickets that were issued.
CEO Schofield remembered an incident at the 111-113 Park Hill Avenue
property in which rats had infested the garbage for which summonses had
been issued. (The Inspector General did not have copies of these tickets
for review because they predated 2003.)
Ms. Schofield stated that with respect to bulk items, as a matter of policy
the City did not pick up bulk items from apartment buildings above 6 units,
and that the Marchetti buildings had tried to nonetheless dispose of bulk
On one occasion Ms. Schofield stated that she spoke to Ms. Marc hetti
about a discarded sofa left on the sidewalk, so that it could be removed
without a ticket being issued.
Subsequent to our interview, on June 8, 2006, Ms. Marchetti called our office and requested
that her complaint be withdrawn. Ms. Marchetti stated that she appeared in City Court to pay
pending tickets, but was told that she could not pay them because her tickets were being
adjourned pending the conclusion of the Ins pector General’s investigation into allegations against
a specific CEO. Ms. Marchetti stated that her complaint was not against any s pecific CEO, but
about the code enforcement system in general. She stated that she did not want to be part of the
complaint and just wanted to pay her tickets.
A ticket was also issued at the Marchetti’s Hawthorne Street property
when the owners had unlawfully tried to cordon off an on-the-street
parking space for their private use.
CEO Schofield did not consider the Marchetti properties to be problems
with respect to non-compliance with summonses.
CEO Supervisor De Pierro issued tickets to the Marchetti’s Park Hill
Avenue apartment building based on complaints received at the Action
Center and a verbal complaint he received from people taking their
children to the school next door. (He provided us with copies of the Action
Conditions on Inspector General’s Site Visit
On the day of our site visit to properties owned by Ms. Marchetti at 111-
113 Park Hill Avenue, and 118-120 Oak Street, the properties were
From January 9, 2003, through May 4, 2006, received 9 summonses and
2 warnings: 6 tickets were paid; 2 are pending; and 1 was designated for a
Testimony of Nemer Mufaddi
Owner of two, three-family houses on Nodine Hill for over twenty years.
In addition to tenants, his brother’s family lives in one house, and his
brother-in-law’s family lives in the other house. His relatives are
responsible for the property and keeping it clean.
At one of his properties, the wind blows debris on it, which has led to
Claims that receiving tickets in the mail does not help solve the problem
because the tickets do not give timely notice of the condition.
Believes that enforcement has become more aggressive, but does not
know if he is being discriminated against. He never met the CEO who
issued the tickets.
Believes that the pick up of bulk items is a problem. He believes that it is
unreasonable to have to wait for 2 or 3 weeks before DPW will schedule a
Recommended that dumpsters be placed in the neighborhood to help
reduce illegal dumping.
Testimony of CEOs
CEO Schofield defended tickets issued to Mr. Mufaddi, whom she had
Her tickets were issued after previous warnings.
The tickets detailed specific violations, i.e. recliner left on sidewalk.
On two occasions the tickets were issued as part of a series of tickets to
property owners on the block for dirty conditions.
Code enforcement efforts appear to be working because Mr. Mufaddi
appropriately repaired his sidewalk after being given a warning notice.
Conditions on Inspector General’s Site Visit
The Mufaddi properties were clean on the day of our visit.
St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church
From August 5, 2003, through May 4, 2006, the City issued 12
summonses and 5 warnings to the Church: 6 tickets were paid, 4 were
withdrawn; and 2 are pending.
Testimony of Church Officials
The St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church is located at 34 Morris Street and
also fronts on Hamilton and Elliott Avenues. The property includes a
church and rectory. The property is surrounded by an appro ximately 6 foot
high wrought iron fence.
The Church received 5 tickets during a three week period in March of
2006, which was excessive and inconsistent with the past.
The Church did not claim that the tickets were issued with a discriminatory
The Church has been victimized by illegal dumping. Trash and debris is
left along the fence and sometimes thrown over the fence into the Church
Church does not generate that much garbage itself. All garbage is
properly contained within the Church property and properly disposed of on
People from the neighborhood frequently congregate on the corner of
Elliott Avenue and Morris Street creating a problem with debris and dog
The Church has a part-time cleaner who comes to the property once or
twice each week. The Pastor, who lives in the rectory, also cleans the
property on occasion.
The Church feels that they cannot keep the property clean all the time
because of the constant and unpredictable illegal dumping.
The Church suggested that if the City placed garbage cans near the
corner of Elliott Avenue and Morris Street, residents may be less likely to
The Church also suggested that an increased police presence could help.
They also recommended the placement of “no dumping” signs in the area.
The Church stated they always try to work with the City and want to work
with the City on this problem.
Testimony of CEOs
The Church had a history of not keeping their sidewalk and curb area
Complaints about conditions at the Church dated back at least to 2003. In
August 2003, a resident complained about the Church never cleaning its
sidewalk; on July 11, 2005, Council Member Annabi’s Office reported
receiving several complaints about dumping and litter on Morris Street in
general and the Church property in particular. Specifically it was reported
that “[f]urniture and garbage are dumped on Elliot Place within a few feet
of the corner of 34 Morris St., is left for weeks without removal.”
A resident called in a complaint about the Church on February 23, 2006.
DPW issued complaints about litter on the Church’s sidewalks on March 8
and 18, 2006.
Photographs taken on April 18 and May 4, 2006, show litter and debris on
the Church’s sidewalks.
CEO Supervisor De Pierro stated that in response to the February 23rd
complaint he went to the property and saw the litter and debris, and then
went to the rectory where he spoke with Church representatives and gave
them a verbal warning to clean up their property in the next day or two.
According to De Pierro, the Church made promises to clean the sidewalk.
On March 1, 2006, CEO Schofield, who had been briefed on the Church
matter by her supervisor, issued a written warning about litter in the gutter
because the sidewalks and gutters remained dirty.
CEO Schofield stated that a series of 6 tickets were subsequently issued
between March 9 and May 4, 2006 because the condition had not been
Supervisor De Pierro stated that the Bureau does not like to cite houses of
worship, but he felt that it was necessary given the ongoing complaints,
and the Church’s failure to clean the property.
Conditions on Inspector General’s Site Visit
On May 17, 2006, we noted that someone had left several plastic
shopping bags of what appeared to be household trash against the
Church’s fence on Morris Street. There was also scattered debris that
appeared to have been thrown over the fence.
On June 6, 2006 at 2:30 PM the property appeared clean except for a
minimal amount of blown litter. When returning to the property at 3:40 PM,
litter was present on the sidewalks and curb areas. Many children and
adults were on the sidewalk and school buses where letting children off at
Additional Information Regarding CEO Schofield’s Tickets
Because Council Member Annabi’s letter suggested that one particular
CEO (later identified as Stella Schofield) may have been issuing improper tickets,
we reviewed the tickets and warnings issued by CEO Schofield and questioned
her and the Deputy Director of Code Enforcement about her ticket writing
CEO Schofield is assigned to patrol the southwest quadrant of the City
which constitutes the area west of the Saw Mill River Parkway to the
Hudson River and south of Ashburton Avenue.
For the period of January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2005, CEO
Schofield issued 2,585 summonses and approximately 900 written and
verbal warnings. (During this period she was on medical leave for two and
one half months). For comparison purposes, CEO Burke, assigned to the
northwest quadrant of the City (north of Ashburton Avenue and west of the
Saw Mill River Parkway) issued 2,356 tickets and approximately 2,350
Deputy Director Knopf stated that the largest number of tickets was issued
in CEO Schofield’s quadrant because that is where the City has the most
problems with litter, debris and illegal dumping.
Fewer warnings were given by CEO Schofield because many of the
property owners were repeat offenders.
New York City’s Department of Sanitation Code Enforcement Policy and
In conducting background research for this investigation, we spoke with
the Director of Enforcement for the New York City Department of Sanitation, and
also compared New York City’s policies and procedures to Yonkers’ operations.
Set forth below is a summary of our findings regarding New York City’s policies
New York City publishes a 40 page pamphlet entitled NYC Digest of
Sanitation Codes19 that provides comprehensive information regarding
property owner’s obligations to keep their property clean.
The NYC Digest is much more detailed than the Yonkers annual
Residential Information Guide, which provides information regarding
garbage and recycling collection in the City of Yonkers. The New York City
website also provides more information than the Yonkers site.
The legal requirements in New York City and Yonkers with respect to
keeping sidewalk and gutter areas clean are essentially the same.
The NYC Digest summarizes the applicable provisions of the
administrative code and clearly sets forth property owners and residents’
obligations under the code.
The NYC Digest provides photographs of conditions as to what constitutes
a typical violation of the city’s sanitation provisions.
New York City has an “enforcement routing” policy, that provides that
enforcement agents will patrol areas and write summonses for dirty
sidewalks and the failure to keep gutters clean at a specific time.
Residential areas are patrolled only between the hours of 8 -9 AM and
again from 12-1 PM. The purpose of this policy is to give property owners
specific notice as to when they will be subject to inspection and the receipt
of sanitation summonses related to dirty sidewalks and gutters.
(Summonses unrelated to sidewalk violations, such as illegal dumping,
can be written at any time.)
New York City’s fines for sanitation violations are approximately 100%
larger than Yonkers’ fines. A typical fine in New York City is $100 for a first
offense and fines increase for second and third offenses. In Yonkers the
typical fine is $50.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Based on our analysis of the facts and understanding of the legal
obligations of property owners to keep their properties and sidewalks clean, we
conclude the following:
Allegations of Discrimination are not Substantiated
1. The allegations that the Code Enforcement Bureau and a specific CEO
engaged in discrimination in the issuance of sanitation related
summonses are unsubstantiated. There is no evidence to support the
allegation that there is a pattern of possible discrimination unfairly
targeting minorities. To the contrary, with respect to the complaints that
we investigated, we found that there was well documented, non-
discriminatory reasons for the summonses that were issued. The CEOs
The publication is available on-line from the New York City Department of Sanitation’s website
at www.nyc.gov/ dsny, (click on the button for Digest of Codes).
testimony explaining the tickets they issued was credible, and their
actions were consistent with applicable law and Bureau of Enforcement
policy and procedure.
2. A closer examination of the complaints against the Bureau revealed that
the complainants were not really alleging discrimination. In most cases
the property owners had little if any direct interactions with the CEOs who
had issued the tickets and all stated that they had no knowledge of actual
discrimination. 20 Instead, the complaints focused on what was perceived
to be unfairness directed toward property owners. Property owners
complained that they should not be held responsible for litter related
conditions that they had no control over. They felt that the litter and debris
problems were caused by irresponsible tenants, improper garbage
collection, windy conditions, and people in the community who engaged in
illegal dumping. Because of these circumstances, the property owners
believed that fairness dictated that they should be given warnings before
summonses were issued. We were not persuaded by these arguments.
3. The applicable law pertaining to the obligations of property owners makes
clear that property owners are responsible for the litter and other
unsanitary conditions on their properties regardless of who or what
created the condition. The Nodine Hill and South Broadway/Riverdale
Avenue neighborhoods have litter problems that landlords cannot divorce
themselves from. Landlords receive economic benefits from their
ownership of income producing, residential property, and must, therefore
meet the minimum requirements of the law, regardless of the associated
costs or inconvenience. The City should not have to give a property
owner a warning every time their properties fail to meet sanitation code
4. Our investigation also revealed that Council Member Annabi’s letter
incorrectly characterized the complainants as homeowners living on the
premises. Generally, the complaining property owners were absentee
landlords, not resident homeowners. 21
The Need for Clarity in Enforcement Policy and Procedure
5. Although we find that the City Bureau of Enforcement did not discriminate,
and that property owners have a legal obligation to keep their properties
free of litter and debris, we agreed with Council Member Annabi’s
assessment that policies and procedures with respect to the enforcement
of litter violations should be clarified.
6. During our review we learned of several unwritten policies and practices
regarding when CEOs will issue litter warnings and summonses. For
The one hearsay allegation about targeting “rich Arabs” was unsubstantiated, and thus not
Of the complainants that we interviewed, Betty Christobal was the only resident owner and the
St. Thomas Mar Thoma Church was a religious organization, otherwise all other complainants
example, litter and debris tickets are not usually written on garbage
collection days in order to give owners the opportunity to clean up litter
and debris which was not picked up. Tickets for litter are also usually not
written on very windy or rainy days. We also learned that warnings are
usually not given to property owners who have a history of violations.
Further, we learned that property owners who occasionally have special
needs can call the Enforcement Bureau to resolve matters or request
additional time for compliance, and thus, often avoid being ticketed.
7. We believe that the flexibility that the Code Enforcement Bureau exhibited
is appropriate because it reflects a practical approach to dealing with the
many different problems associated with proper garbage disposal. 22
However, we also believe that property owners have a right to know what
is expected of them, and should have access to the policies and
procedures that the Bureau employs when enforcing the Code. We
believe the City can do better at communicating its policies and
8. In New York City, the Department of Sanitation, which is responsible for
enforcing sanitation violations, provides a 40 page pamphlet (available
on-line) which provides detailed descriptions of the rights and obligations
of property owners with respect to the City of New York’s enforcement of
sanitation codes. We strongly recommend that Yonkers develop a similar
9. Three specific aspects of the New York City publication that we
particularly liked were: 1) New York City’s “enforcement routing” policy
which limits the times when littering tickets are issued. This puts landlords
on notice – and removes the uncertainty that some of the Yonkers’
landlords complained of – as to the specific times they will be inspected
for litter and debris violations. 2) The New York City publication contains
photographs of typical conditions that constitute sanitation violations.
These photographs help clarify the question of what constitutes litter for
enforcement purposes. 3) The New York City fines are significantly higher
than Yonkers’ fines. We believe that larger fines which increase for
second and third time offenders would create a greater incentive for
owners to keep their properties clean and otherwise abide by the
requirements of the City Code.
10. A Yonkers City pamphlet, modeled on New York City’s publication, would
resolve the questions that Council Member Annabi raised about what
constitutes litter and what are the obligations of responsible property
11. Except for the purpose of increasing fi nes, we do not believe that there is
a need for new legislation to address issues related to litter and debris. All
that is needed is a better understanding of the obligations of property
owners, and how the City will enforce the existing laws.
The New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials publication entitled Propert y
Maintenance: From Nuisance Properties to Unsaf e Buildings, June 2005 states that “[e]very
effective code enforc ement program must be comprehensive yet flexible.”
The Need for Additional Enforcement Strategies
12. When we first began this investigation, we were startled by the severity of
the litter and dumping problems in the neighborhoods subject to our
review. The problems persist despite the best efforts of DPW and the
13. We were the most shocked by the dumping conditions on two vacant lots
adjacent to the “Elm Street Steps”. DPW officials characterized the
condition as so extreme as to constitute an illegal landfill. When we
alerted the administration to the need to take immediate action to address
this condition, we were pleased that in a matter of a few weeks, the
property owners were persuaded to live up to their obligations under the
law and clean up the dumpsite.
14. The quick action on the Elm Street Steps landfill demonstrated to us that
concerted City efforts can play a significant role in addressing litter and
dumping problems. One such new initiative, for which the City
administration deserves credit, has been the installation of surveillance
cameras at several known dumping areas in the City. The existence of
these cameras has resulted in a decrease of dumping at these locations.
15. We believe, however, that there is more that can be achieved in the area
of legal enforcement. The CEOs that we interviewed expressed their
collective frustration over violations that went unabated for long periods of
time. Certain scofflaws simply abdicated their responsibilities, failed to
remediate violations, and then, with apparent impunity, ignored the tickets
16. With respect to these scofflaws, we learned that tickets designated as
being subject to warrants for arrest or subject to corporate default
judgments were not acted upon. Thus, the tickets issued for these
violations had no effect, and the violators/scofflaws were not subject to
17. We believe that the Law Department should implement new legal
strategies to address the issues surrounding scofflaws. Specifically, 1) In
appropriate circumstances, the Corporation Counsel should request that
the Police Department enforce outstanding arrest warrants; 2) Nuisance
abatement actions, which are specifically authorized by State and local
law, should be commenced against property owners to address large
scale dumping problems and other chronic sanitation problems. If
appropriate, the County Health Department, which has additional
authority under the New York State Public Health Law, should be
requested to become involved; and 3) Civil actions, which are authorized
by the City Code and provide for stiff civil penalties in the tens of
thousands of dollars, should be commenced against property owners who
demonstrate a continuous unwillingness to meet their obligations to keep
their properties clean.
18. We were generally impressed with the programs that the City has
implemented through the Department of Public Works to combat the
problem of illegal dumping, but recognize that the dumping and litter
problems persist despite the City’s efforts.
19. In the interviews that we conducted with the comp lainants, we asked each
what could be done to better control litter and illegal dumping. Most of the
recommendations that we heard concerned the specific problems related
to the complainants’ properties. We believe that these suggestions should
be collected, perhaps by Council Member Annabi’s office, and forwarded
to the Mayor’s Office for review and consideration by the appropriate City
agencies. There may be some solutions to some of the chronic problems
that are relatively easy to implement. 23
20. We also believe that DPW should study whether its policy of not
accepting construction debris and bulk items at the City dump from
residents who live in buildings with more than six units is contributing to
the illegal dumping problems in the City. When debris is illegally dumped
on City-owned property, the City must remove it. A change in policy
regarding access to the City dump may lessen the amount of illegal
21. Finally, we recommend that the Code Enforcement Bureau change its
policy of permanently assigning CEOs to patrol a particular quadrant of
the City and implement a policy of rotating CEOs on at least an annual
basis. Such a policy will lead to the CEOs having a better familiarity with
the entire City, promote uniformity in CEO enforcement practices, and
provide a necessary internal control to help ensure the integrity of
For instance, the represent atives of the St. Thomas Mar Thoma Churc h, believe that trash
barrels and signage in the area where residents tend to congregate could help alleviate the litter
problem on their property.