Western Brooklyn

18th Avenue Merchants Give Thumbs Down To Garbage Can Removal Experiment


The MTA’s recent proposal to cut down on litter by eliminating the garbage cans in subway stops may seem unusual, but Bensonhurst merchants are urging the city to learn the lessons of a similar on-going experiment on 18th Avenue that they say has failed.

The MTA announced late last month that it was considering expanding its pilot program to reduce garbage at subway stations by removing litter baskets altogether, an experimental plan currently in effect at two stations outside of Brooklyn. Similar logic led to the Department of Sanitation’s removal of 44 garbage cans along 18th Avenue from 75th Street to 65th Street – at the request of Community Board 11 – this past July, aimed at preventing illegal dumping of commercial and residential garbage bags in the corner baskets. But for local businesses, it’s been a rough – and dirty – transition, made worse by a lack of notification.

Habib Gazali, supervisor of the Stop One Mini Mart between 71th Street and 70th Street, is frustrated that he has to sweep for 30 to 40 minutes, three to four times a day just to keep up with the litterers.

“I mean, without the baskets, what do you think they’re gonna do?” he said.

Community Board 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia said that removing the baskets encourages residents and merchants to seek appropriate places to put their garbage bags instead of in the baskets, where the bags overflow and leave little room for litter disposal.

“The baskets just invited people to throw all of their [household garbage in public bins],” Elias-Pavia said. Corner baskets are meant for that wayward candy wrapper or newspaper, not residential or commercial garbage.

The Department of Sanitation plans to continue the program for the next three months and continue monitoring the results, according to Department of Sanitation spokesman Matthew Lipani. A similar program in Bay Ridge had mixed results – but proponents say it was marred by the addition of new trash cans by State Senator Marty Golden during the pilot phase.

On 18th Avenue, the district manager is pleased with the results after just three months.

“There are still pockets and corners where we see garbage being put out,” said Elias-Pavia. “But generally, it’s a cleaner corridor.”

Part of the area’s garbage problem is that the city’s Sanitation Department does not service commercial corridors like 18th Avenue or the residences who live above storefronts. Property and business owners are responsible for hiring private garbage carters along those strips, but some residents and business owners flout the law. The new program includes a door-to-door campaign educating the public about proper garbage disposal.

In addition, sanitation workers go through the garbage bags left in the streets looking for identifying information. The department issues notices of violation to whomever they identify from investigating the bags.

Community Board 11 has entertained the idea of removing the litter baskets in Bensonhurst for years. Howard Feuer, former Community Board 11 District Manager, tried to start the program seven years ago. The idea was nixed when the board felt that nearby subway construction would be an unfair gauge from which to measure the experiment’s success.

Despite the positive assessments from both the community board and the department, local businesses insist that removing the litter baskets has actually made the garbage problem worse.

“The streets are twice as dirty,” said Phyllis Gallo, who works at Flowers by Emil between 73th Street and 74th Street.

Without the baskets, many parts of 18th Avenue are littered with garbage bags against mailboxes and parking meters, shopping bags in the corners and cardboard boxes.

“We’ve caught people literally put a flat-screen TV in front of our store,” said Phyllis Gallo. “And [the department] approached us because they think it’s ours, but it’s not.”

The garbage bags have attracted cockroaches in the bags left near One Beauty Supply between 65th Street and 66th Street.

“And not those small ones,” said Marisol Valle, employee of the beauty supply store. “You see those big ones. Those that jump.”

In addition, merchants insist there was no communication from the department about this experiment.

“I just didn’t see the baskets anymore,” said Joe Maffei, owner of Gino’s Focacceria, located between 72nd Street and 71st Street. “I saw it on the news, though.”

Several businesses also said that pedestrians regularly enter their stores only to throw away their trash.

District Manager Elias-Pavia, however, defends the experiment emphasizing that the amount of litter on the street is not a direct result of the removal of the litter baskets.

“Compare the streets. In 64th Street, it still has the litter baskets, and you see the same amount of litter,” Elias-Pavia said.

In the end, many of the storeowners and residents of 18th Avenue say that they want the litter baskets back.

“I think anyone should have access to put their garbage in the corners,” said Phyllis Gallo from Flowers by Emil.

Comment policy


  1. his is all becase the russian immigrants that have moved in and taken over don’t give a shit about where they throw their garbage ! Elias-Perva, the reason you see the same amount of litter is because now that everyone has become used to throwing their trash on the ground because of the lack of trash cans why would they bother to use the cans that are there?

  2. Sorry! In Bensonhurst along 18th Avenue and New Utrecht Avenue it is ALL the Chinese doing this. I hate to harp on a particular group, but I have been dealing with this for the past five years now. I continually see Chinese women in their pajamas coming out of their homes every day at 6:30am with their personal house-garbage in hand, and walk to the corner and dump their trash there.
    One time my wife and I saw a woman look for a trash can under the 79th street train station, and when she didn’t see it there, she literally dumped the trash on the curb! When I started yelling at her she took off making believe she didn’t understand me.

    Total disregard for the public places in the neighborhood now. And anyone trying to tell me otherwise is full of it.

    Just look at what is being dumped. I guarantee you you’ll find garbage particular to this part of our population. Sorry. It’s sad to say, but it’s a fact.

  3. Anytime you use absolute words like “ALL”, you sound ignorant and uneducated. You probably think that it’s factual that black people steal. How would you feel if you saw a person of your ethnicity do the aforementioned things. Will you not talk about it then?

  4. While I DO understand the “dangers” of using the word “all”, fact is: I have lived in this neighborhood since 1969, and I have NEVER, and I mean NEVER seen any of “my people” (or others for that matter) practice this act of garbage disposal.
    Now, I challenge you to sift through public garbage cans on corners along New Utrecht Avenue and 18th Avenue. You will be dismayed at the FACT that all the private trash you come across will indeed be clearly from this segment of the population in the neighborhood.
    I don’t like stating these facts. I truly do not. But when I have seen this practice with my very own eyes on numerous occasions by people who genuinely do not care about being so blatant about it, why should I have any sympathy for them or their “feelings”?
    What gets me every time is that even when you have empirical evidence proving your point, but may hurt someone’s feelings, you’re ‘not allowed” to express these facts for fear of being labelled a racist, misogynist, etc.
    For your information, when I was growing up in the neighborhood, if you were caught doing such a thing and be seen by someone (especially your “own” people), you’d get REAMED for it and most likely have your parents called. Believe it or not.
    And NO, I definitely do not think all “black people steal”, as I wouldn’t want to think all of “my people are mobsters”. But ironically enough, YOU are the one who ran to that played out and cliched argument which is actually “ignorant and uneducated”.

  5. I guess the world is a much cleaner place if only there are more of “your” people occupying space because they, according to you have NEVER littered… and because you have the vision only rivaled by a God to see everything that goes on in your neighborhood and because you spend every waking minute monitoring this activity, we’d be dumb not to use your findings as empirical evidence. Give me a break…

  6. Is it truly beyond the realm of possibility that one culture is capable of not caring about littering while another culture actually does?
    Why the implausibility of it all?
    I’m actually amazed at the absolute zero-tolerance of your attitude.
    Perhaps I need to preface it all by stating that “IN MY EXPERIENCE” of 44 years in the area, littering has never been a problem like this. Ever. Get it? Now it’s exploded. So what then, do you attribute it all too? Honestly, can you answer this instead of just saying “no” to what I’m saying? Why the proliferation of litter in a neighborhood that never had a problem with littering before? What has changed?

    Whatever, seems we’ll never agree.
    Some objectivity, even if it’s unflattering to some, is not a bad thing you know.

  7. I must ask: do you protest this loudly when someone “generalizes” a group of people in a POSITIVE light? You cannot have it both ways. I’m so tired of others heaping praise on groups of people, only “generalizing” about positive aspects of culture, yet THEN getting upset if we focus on a negative cultural trait. We can all agree there is “good” and “bad” in every culture, correct? It’s what makes us human. So don’t castigate me for pointing out a negative trait of a culture that is indeed affecting where we live.

    Hypocrisy at it’s best these days.

  8. So you are basically saying that their culture has a propensity for being uncultured and dirty? Gee, I wonder if let’s say we make a trip to China, would it be possible to find places there that are clean and the lawn is trimmed better than yours. Probably not because it just isn’t programmed into the culture.

    It’s quite sad that you are trying to justify your racist statements… Instead of coming up with a proposed solution, you rather partake in a childish blame game that gets us nowhere in bettering this stagnant society.Your last paragraph pretty much summed it up for me that you are okay for speaking negatively about a race as long as there are also positive generalizations. So accordingly, I am welcome to form some negative theories about your culture as well, right?

    And please tell me, what is your proposed solution for this garbage problem in your neighborhood other than to removed the Chinese?



  9. Actually I do have a decent solution, and it’s what my father and I do every other evening. We go around our block and clean up anything that needs to be cleaned up, especially for the elderly we know can’t get around much anymore.

    Started out as something to do with my parent to pass the time, and now has turned into something bigger.

    And there are many others who do the same in the area, just not without the fanfare and B.S. media opps like you see here with politicians.

    You are MORE than welcome to make judgements on “my” people. Lord knows we have much to look down on. It wouldn’t bother me at all. I can be objective and have seen how my culture messed up over the years.

    The good with the bad. No problem.

  10. That’s a very noble thing that you and your father are doing. However I don’t think that the solution should be to clean up after other people. This would only encourage people to do wrong knowing that they can get away with it.

    And just because your people did whatever they did in the past, it doesn’t mean that you did it. That’s like blaming every white person for slavery. Everyone should be given a leveled playing field but if you continue to encourage stereotyping albeit from a witness stand point, you will continue to live in isolation and fear. I mean with that logic, why don’t we all just migrate back to our ethnic countries to avoid integration altogether. So we would only deal with our own nonsense and we can all be recognized as just people.


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