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Officials Seek Steeper Fines For Illegal Dumping

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Officials say too much household garbage is ending up in street corner bins where it doesn’t belong, and some City Council members are now backing a bill to raise the fines on illegal dumping. NY1’s Grace Rauh filed the following report.

Jamaica Avenue has seen better days.

At the intersection of 123rd Street, garbage is piled high.

An oversized box for a flat screen TV and plastic bags filled with Christmas tree remains clog the path to a public garbage can. Trash bins are meant to collect litter from pedestrians, not hold garbage from someone's home or work.

“Businesses do it because they are trying to avoid paying private pickup. I have no idea why private people do it. Maybe they are too stupid to figure out when their pickup day is or maybe they are just too lazy,” said Queens City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr.

New Yorkers living in illegal apartments may also be adding their trash to the pile. They may think putting garbage on the curb outside their home will draw unwanted attention.

Either way, frustration with these so-called "litter pigs" is reaching a breaking point.

Last month, Vallone turned to Facebook for help.

He posted a rant about an illegal dumper that gained widespread attention, and now Vallone, along with two other council members from Queens, are backing a bill to raise the fines for illegal dumping.

Brooklyn Councilwoman Letitia James, the chairwoman of the council's Sanitation Committee, is onboard.

“It's important that we hit individuals where it hurts, and that is in their pockets,” said James.

If approved, the legislation would double fines for a first offense to $200. A second violation would cost $500, and a third would be $600.

“We need to have a neighborhood where we can live like decent people rather than live like the rats running in and out of the garbage,” said Latchman Budhai of Community Board 9.

The higher fines may only go so far in solving the problem. Illegal dumping is enforced by the Department of Sanitation, and last year they handed out an average of only 10 tickets per day citywide.

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the administration will not take a position on the bill until it is officially introduced and a hearing is held.

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