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Department of Sanitation

‘Working Group’ Needed to Revive Trash Hauler Reform Stalled by Adams, Pol Says

12:01 AM EST on February 9, 2023

The Council still hopes to reform the private carting industry.

A Brooklyn Council member is hoping to light a fire under the city's stalled effort to overhaul the dangerous private carting industry — by launching a "working group" to make sense of the ongoing delays to the program passed and signed under ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Council Sanitation Chair Sandy Nurse will introduce legislation on Feb. 16 to create a roughly 20-person working group that would comprise herself, Department of Sanitation Commissioner Jessica Tisch, the chair of the Business Integrity Commission and eight representatives each from the carting industry and organized labor.

Sandy Nurse
Sandy Nurse
Sandy Nurse

The group would meet at least once every three months, according to the legislation, and wrap up its work once the commercial waste zone program launches, according to the language of the bill. 

Nurse believes it's crucial the city council hold the city's feet to the fire to implement the program, she told Streetsblog last month. Her committee will hold a hearing on the long-stalled Commercial Waste Zone program on Feb. 22.

“It’s important that we get this right. It’s important the city is held accountable to implement this law.  We are not re-litigating this, we are not going backwards. This is something that needs to happen," she said. 

Nurse's proposal comes after Streetsblog exclusively reported that the Council's reform of the rogue private carting industry, which became law in 2019, is indefinitely delayed, thanks to Mayor Adams and Tisch, who has deprioritized the effort, multiple sources said.

The 2019 law proposed creating 20 zones in which only specific carters are allowed to operate — replacing a free-for-all system of cut-throat competition that led to reckless driving and road fatalities.

Request for proposals to the city were due by July 15, 2022 and officials planned to launch the zones in "Autumn 2022," according to the city's published timeline. Errors within submissions for DSNY to ask carters to submit what’s called a Best and Final Offer to fix those errors. Those revisions were due Nov. 15, 2022.

City officials admit the program has hit a snag, but said any delays were due to the agency trying to get it “right.” The program is still in the works, Department of Sanitation Deputy Commissioner Joshua Goodman admitted last month.

“DSNY is going ahead with this program, as required by law, and we are committed to getting it right. When Commissioner Tisch started nine months ago, the program was on the wrong track, and was on a path to failure,” said Goodman, referencing Los Angeles’s own similar program in 2017 that caused prices for businesses to skyrocket.

“There was a very real chance it would go so poorly — as it did in Los Angeles — that the City Council would come under enormous pressure to repeal it, undermining years of advocacy. It would have been easy to come out swinging against the program, to write it off as impossible.”

DSNY under Tisch has put new safeguards in place to guarantee that costs do not similarly increase, Goodman said. The agency also implemented a new outreach program to local businesses, and put the IT platform for commercial carter reporting “on the right track.”

Officials are reviewing the legislation and looks forward to the upcoming hearing later this month, Goodman said. 

The City Council will hold its hearing on the program at 10 a.m. on Feb. 22.

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