New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has offered up a $32 million scheme to tackle some of the city’s worst rat problems, targeting parts of Lower Manhattan, the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn and the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.
The goal is to reduce the number of rats in those areas by 70 percent by the end of 2018. A part of the plan will include installing 336 rat-proof garbage bins that compact trash using solar power. The city already has 1,100 of these bins around the city, according to the New York Times.
“All New Yorkers deserve to live in clean and healthy neighborhoods,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We refuse to accept rats as a normal part of living in New York City. This $32 million investment is a multi-pronged attack to dramatically reduce the rat population in the City’s most infested areas and improve the quality of life for residents.”
“The Department of Sanitation is proud to join with our sister agencies to step up the fight against rats in New York City,” Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia said in a statement. “The best way to eliminate rats is to deprive them of food, including garbage in homes and litter on New York City streets. Increasing service and adding rodent resistant litter baskets will achieve this goal. I am excited to bring these and other approaches to the fight against rats in these targeted zones to significantly reduce the rat population. This plan promotes a healthier, safer and cleaner New York for all.”
To administration said it would implement the a series of programs in the three mitigation zones:
- The city will purchase 336 solar compactors that restrict access to trash with a “mail-box” opening and that have resulted in 90 percent rat reductions when fully deployed in concentrated areas. The city will also replace all the remaining wire waste baskets in the zones with 1,676 steel cans—both in parks and on street corners—which should meaningfully reduce rats’ access to food sources compared to current wire baskets. Installation of solar compactors and steels cans will begin by September.
- Rat Pads in NYCHA buildings: The city will allocate $16.3 million in capital spending to replace dirt basement floors with concrete “rat pads” in prioritized NYCHA buildings within the Mitigation Zones. The cementing of basements, complemented by extermination and cleanouts, has been evidenced to reduce resident-generated work orders related to rats at NYCHA facilities by 40 percent. Additionally, $8.8 million in will be invested in new NYCHA trash compactors to properly store waste, often replacing machines more than twenty years old and far past normal useful life. Requests for Proposal will be issued before the end of the year, with installation set to begin in 2018.
- Better trash management in DOHMH-designated areas: The plan proposes a local law that requires buildings containing more than ten units within the Mitigation Zones to curb garbage after 4am the day of trash collection, greatly reducing the availability of rats’ food source. To further minimize rats’ food source, local laws will be proposed to require enrollment in organics collection by Food Service Establishments and low-performing buildings in the DOHMH-designated areas. A citywide local law will also be proposed to increase fines for illegal dumping by private business from $1,500 to $5,000 for first time offenses, with fines reaching up to $20,000 for additional violations.
- More frequent trash pickup and anti-rat staff: The plan calls for increased DSNY basket and residential service in the most critical areas within the Mitigation Zones. Similarly, NYC Parks basket pickup will become an everyday occurrence in all parks within the Mitigation Zones, accompanied by targeted litter removal from parks. Increased DSNY and NYC Parks waste basket pick up has already begun, with increased DSNY residential pick up beginning by the end of August. Eight staff will be added to DOHMH’s anti-rat team; seven front-line staff and a sophisticated data scientist to allow DOHMH to conduct data-driven rat mitigation efforts. Finally, NYCHA’s MyNYCHA mobile app will be modified to ensure tenants can effectively create work orders for trash removal and rat mitigation.
- Ramped-up enforcement of rat-related violations: DOHMH will lead full-building, multi-agency inspections of targeted private buildings alongside DOB, HPD, and DSNY to identify conditions that contribute to rat infestations, order owners to make repairs and issue violations when warranted. DSNY will undertake a three-month enforcement blitz against illegal dumping at major NYCHA facilities to pilot tactics that can reduce rat food sources and habitat. In addition, DSNY will focus outreach and enforcement to promote waste management best practices, including separating organic waste.
- New laws to require better trash management: We will work with City Council to introduce new laws to improve trash management and reduce food for rats in these mitigation zones. These laws will require buildings with 10+ units to put out trash at 4 AM in DOHMH set areas, call for low-performing buildings to enroll in organics collection, instruct Food Service Establishments to enroll in organics in areas set by DOHMH, and increase fines for improper waste disposal and illegal dumping.
This plan builds on the Administration’s previous efforts to manage rodent populations. In 2014, the Health Department piloted the Rat Reservoir program in six sites with high concentration of rats in Manhattan and the Bronx. The Rat Reservoir program targets rat colonies and conditions conducive to rats in sidewalks, catch basins, tree pits, and parks, in addition to buildings. In the first year of the pilot program, the Department’s efforts in the areas resulted in an 80 to 90 percent drop in active rat signs.
In 2015, Mayor de Blasio increased funding by $2.9 million to expand the City’s Rat Reservoir Program. The investment expanded the pilot program from the original six sites to 45 areas around the city. Prior to this investment, the City conducted pest control work with nine staff for a cost of $611,000 in six neighborhoods. The rat reservoir initiative significantly expanded the program to 50 staff and this new investment will bring that team up to 58.
“I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for his attention to this important issue,” Council Member Antonio Reynoso, Chair of Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee said in a statement “Improving quality-of-life in and around public housing in my district is a big priority for me, and this is going to make a big impact. Also, encouraging residents and businesses to participate in the organics collection program will keep our streets cleaner and help further our goal of reducing waste that goes to landfills.”