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Sanitation Summons for Other People's Garbage

Discussion in 'Other Ownership, Use & Privacy Issues' started by Michael Wechsler, Aug 24, 2013.

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  1. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    The cost of cleaning litter from the streets of New York City is equal to the gross domestic income of a small nation. The city recovers at least a portion of that cost through its ever-increasing fines for littering. Though it seems rare to hear of anyone being cited for dropping an unwanted flyer or cigarette butt on the streets, litter-related fining is a multi-million dollar source of income for the city. The Department of Sanitation can fine residents $50 to $250 for litter on their property or on the sidewalk in front of their residence, up to 18 inches from the curb.

    Litter Policy by Brooke Edwards (NYC Garbage Project)
     
    Michael Wechsler likes this.
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Law Topic Starter Administrator Staff Member

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    Great find!!!! Thank you Betty!!!! Now here is the full article that has a golden nugget of information:

    The Department of Sanitation can fine residents $50 to $250 for litter on their property or on the sidewalk in front of their residence, up to 18 inches from the curb. Citations can be issued between 8 and 9 a.m. and from noon to 1 p.m. But many residents have complained that they are not home to check for litter before the mid-day deadline. City Councilman Simcha Felder introduced a new litter bill this summer, which says violations can only be written between 8 and 9 a.m. and 6 and 7 p.m.

    So the City of New York was well aware of the fact that homeowners couldn't be home to clean their streets at noon. The law was actually changed in recognizing how unreasonable it was to do the garbage ticket sweep during the work day. But isn't it quite obvious that 8-9AM would be commuting time to work? What a remarkable oversight this was during the opportunity to set this right long ago.
     
  3. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Law Topic Starter Administrator Staff Member

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    I just discovered one final eye opening fact about this sanitation summons - this ticket is for a $300 fine. If you mail in the sanitation ticket and pay the fine, New York City is offering a reduced amount of $100. But if the judge decides you're guilty, the maximum violation is $300. So basically New York is saying that if you want to challenge City Hall it can cost you three times the damages versus just paying the City off to make it go away. Talk about strong arm tactics and the appearance of something that smells worse than the garbage...

    I've decided I'm in regardless of the potential repercussions and I'll let you know tomorrow afternoon how it goes.
     
  4. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    Good luck! - Glad you're in! What a bummer way to get people to just pay it by having to pay more if you contest it before a judge & it's decided you're guilty. :(

    PS - They probably will call it a $200.00 court cost.
     
  5. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Its no different than a civil demand letter. Pay what we say or else have your day in court and pay more.
     
  6. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    I still believe it is strong arm tactics as thelawprofessor said & a bummer way as I said to get people to just pay the fine. It's not exactly the same as a civil demand letter for say shoplifting in the sense that this is a ticket/summons it seems to me should not have to be paid at all & I hope it is dismissed & even raises publicity re the law (code). This is something that needs to be stopped.

    I understand what you're saying though in that they have to pay the $100 or end up paying more if they go to court & are found guilty the same as a civil demand letter would be handled.
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    There have been several federal and assorted state decisions outlawing the government's ability to charge or assess a person more (via fine or court costs) for availing themselves of their right to pursue due process. There are exceptions for paying quickly, as in 24 or 72 hours. I don't see this as such an exception.

    When will the good people of New York stop out of control bureaucrats and their greedy, confiscatory thievery?

    I'm sure a quick search of the applicable repositories will yield a plethora of those decisions.

    Professor, you're on the malodorous scent of this putrid scam. Go get 'em!!!


    Sent from my iPad3 using Tapatalk HD
     
  8. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Law Topic Starter Administrator Staff Member

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    Thank you for the good luck wishes everyone. This morning I went down to the New York City Department of Finance in Queens County. I waited an hour or so to appear before the Administrative Law Judge but had my case prepared, complete with photos of the local area, the rest of the block, the newspaper article with trash can pictures courtesy of Councilman Peter Vallone, as well as that awesome blog post that Betty3 found. I won't keep you in suspense but I have to wait 3-5 days for the decision to arrive in the mail.

    The judge was very polite, professional and accommodating. She introduced herself and seemed very willing to give me an opportunity to speak, which was a good sign. The judge read the sanitation violation out loud. I had to clarify for her that the complaining officer wrote down "coffee cups" in addition to candy wrappers. I saw her roll her eyes and had a feeling that she was seeing utter rubbish (pardon the pun) appearing in front of her on a regular basis.

    I began by informing the judge about Councilman Peter Vallone's article in the New York Daily News yesterday. I summarized how New York City issued a record low number of sanitation tickets for public trash cans from January through June 2013, allegedly as a result of Hurricane Sandy. She smiled when she saw the pictures that Councilman Vallone took and seemed to greatly appreciate the contrast with my predicament. I didn't mention the "trash backwards" zinger since I didn't want to denigrate the Sanitation Department as a whole, just make my point about an obvious numbers issue in July when this ticket was issued.

    After this short background I tried to help the judge to reach the conclusion that we are certainly not guilty of this sanitation violation by pointing out that the complaint in the summons is far too vague. The house is on a block between two schools, despite being a residential neighborhood. There is never street parking available since someone always takes the available spot. The violation is for garbage in the street but it doesn't say where in the street the garbage was or whether a car was parked in the vicinity of the garbage, making it impossible to clean. Hence, as a result of a lack of detail, the summons itself is void for being too vague and leaving me unable to make a reasonable and adequate defense.

    I showed her pictures of the block and that there are cars parked in front of every home. On the side and under each car I showed her the garbage that is unfortunate thrown out of the cars by nonresidents. There was diaper under the car in front of our house. I informed the judge (a) there aren't any children in the home at the moment (despite the fact that my parents hope for more grandchildren - that got a good laugh); (b) I have a Starbucks mug from which I drink coffee when I make it so the cups aren't mine; (c) I'm staying in the house and clean up and take care of what I can and I can't be there between 8 and 9AM to make sure that nobody threw garbage under their car that somehow we are supposed to clean up. I then mentioned that Brooklyn Councilman Simcha Felder changed the noon violation writing time to 6PM specifically to address the point that people were obviously not present to clean -- just as one cannot be present to clean at 8:10AM if they are in transit to work for a prompt 9AM start.

    And in conclusion, I did receive a good laugh when I informed the judge that even the City of New York appears to have been blatantly violating its own sanitation ordinances that it purportedly wants the people to uphold to the letter of the law. I printed out the trash pickup days in our neighborhood as Tuesday and Thursday from the New York City Department of Sanitation web site. I handed her the picture of the small park 2 blocks away and how the City puts its trash on the curb no less than 7-9 hours in advance of the time that the law allows for trash to be placed on the sidewalk.

    We'll see what the decision is but I think my presentation made a very good impression on the judge and gave her everything she needed to dismiss this crock of a violation. I'll let you know how things went when I hear myself. Thanks again for everyone who contributed to the cause -- my case would not have been as confidently presented without you!!! :)
     
  9. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    Sounding good - you certainly were prepared & the judge seemed impressed. :)
     
  10. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Not guilty or case dismissed.
    This wasn't a pile of ! LOL



    Sent from my iPad3 using Tapatalk HD
     
  11. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Law Topic Starter Administrator Staff Member

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    I am glad to report a complete victory as I received a decision in my favor dismissing the complaint in its entirety.

    In short, the judge believed the mountain of evidence I brought in that I've done my job, New York City is generally a dirty place, the trash was not mine and that there is no way the City can expect me to clean into the street when cars are parked there all the time!

    "Based on the testimony given by the Respondent whom I found to be credible and has established reasonable efforts in maintaining a clean area, I hereby dismiss said violation."
     
  12. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Congratulations, professor.

    Outstanding effort, great conclusion.

    I applaud you, sir. :cheer: :cheer: :party: :beer:
     
  13. Betty3

    Betty3 Super Moderator

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    Yay, congratulations, way to go, you rock & all that stuff! :)
     
  14. cealie

    cealie New Member

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    Thank you Army Judge

    On May 7 I got a summons for "mixed material" which was a shock but a worker at the sanitation garage warned me this would happen if I kept calling 311 to complain about my collector. He refuses to take large black bags of garbage from us because he insists it's contractor garbage. My husband and I both work and then when we get home, we work on my almost 100 year old house. A few years have past since my mom died and we decided to make some renovations and live in the future instead of the past. This guy ignores our black bags and takes everyone else's on the block - we watch him on the security video. The guys at the garage warned me DON'T CALL 311, call the garage. So for a year I played this game but finally got sick of it and called 311 again. The next black bag that appeared got the summons, and everything on the summons was a lie. Not knowing that the summons was coming later, my husband called and said the bags are still in front of the house. So I performed the usual routine of calling the garage and they would send a supervisor to pick it up and inspect it. When I get home and see that summons, with that same $100/$300 confusing amount, I decided to take off from work and wait for the supervisor (not the one who put his name to the false summons). He arrived and I showed him the summons and the bags of garbage. I asked him to please look very carefully and see if I did anything wrong. I know this guy, I've spoken to him on the phone - nice guy. He shook his head and as usual was bewildered by what was going on. I told him if I have to go to hearing, I'm taking that trash with me as evidence. I sent a "one-click" form to have the case dismissed and named the supervisor and 2 superintendents that I spoke with about this, who admit the collector has "issues".

    One thing I'd like to know Army Judge: When you went to see the ALJ, were the other parties subpoenaed to appear? Because that would be totally delicious...

    In the meantime I've sent a nice letter to Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation. I was going to cc our councilman, who I believe is Valone, the mayor, God, 9 on Your side etc. But I just sent it to Ms. Garcia to see what would happen, because if they are harassing me with a false summons, they are doing it to other people and this has to stop.

    I will post the results of my one-click appearance.
     
  15. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Thanks, but The Law Professor is the person to ask.
    He's the person who lives in NYC and beat the bogus charge.
     
  16. cealie

    cealie New Member

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    On May 7 I got a summons for "mixed material" which was a shock but a worker at the sanitation garage warned me this would happen if I kept calling 311 to complain about my collector. He refuses to take large black bags of garbage from us because he insists it's contractor garbage. My husband and I both work and then when we get home, we work on my almost 100 year old house. A few years have past since my mom died and we decided to make some renovations and live in the future instead of the past. This guy ignores our black bags and takes everyone else's on the block - we watch him on the security video. The guys at the garage warned me DON'T CALL 311, call the garage. So for a year I played this game but finally got sick of it and called 311 again. The next black bag that appeared got the summons, and everything on the summons was a lie. Not knowing that the summons was coming later, my husband called and said the bags are still in front of the house. So I performed the usual routine of calling the garage and they would send a supervisor to pick it up and inspect it. When I get home and see that summons, with that same $100/$300 confusing amount, I decided to take off from work and wait for the supervisor (not the one who put his name to the false summons). He arrived and I showed him the summons and the bags of garbage. I asked him to please look very carefully and see if I did anything wrong. I know this guy, I've spoken to him on the phone - nice guy. He shook his head and as usual was bewildered by what was going on. I told him if I have to go to hearing, I'm taking that trash with me as evidence. I sent a "one-click" form to have the case dismissed and named the supervisor and 2 superintendents that I spoke with about this, who admit the collector has "issues".

    One thing I'd like to know Army Judge: When you went to see the ALJ, were the other parties subpoenaed to appear? Because that would be totally delicious...

    In the meantime I've sent a nice letter to Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of the Department of Sanitation. I was going to cc our councilman, the mayor, God, 9 on Your side etc. But I just sent it to Ms. Garcia to see what would happen, because if they are harassing me with a false summons, they are doing it to other people and this has to stop.

    I will post the results of my one-click appearance.

    Oh sorry about that, thanks for letting me know.
     

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