Sunday, March 2, 2014

Jackson Heights Crap : Whose Garbage Is Really Worse ?

In Latest Jackson Heights Garbage Controversy, Scandal Depends On Eye Of Beholder

Last week, New York City Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) appeared at a news conference outside of the Starbucks on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, to complain about what he saw as a nuisance : the garbage that the coffee shop stacked outside the alley gate on 79th Street, near the coffee shop's backdoor.

Hearing it told by Councilmember Dromm and neighbors, employees of the coffee shop do not neatly bag nor tie the shop's garbage when the bags are placed out for collection. "Open bags of coffee grinds, food and other trash is often strewn around, residents said, and is usually left out for 12 hours or more," DNAinfo reported. However, the photo posted by Queens Crap showed that the garbage placed on the sidewalk for pickup was actually tied and neatly stacked against the curb. Presumably the neighborhood residents, who are complaining the loudest about the Starbucks garbage bags, are the residents of the building at 35-56 79th Street, which butts up against the backside the alley, where Starbucks stores it garbage.

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If the photo of the Starbucks garbage is to believed -- and there's no reason not to -- it's not known if after Starbucks employees place the garbage bags on the curb that they are later opened by the people, who open up neighborhood recycle bags to scavenge for glass bottles and aluminum cans that can be exchanged for a cash deposit at neighborhood grocery stores. The photo of the Starbucks garbage bags only shows a few black garbage bags, which should only contain items that cannot be recycled, such as coffee grinds, food waste, or other trash. By far the majority of the garbage bags that are stacked along the curb are made of clear plastic, which should only contain recyclables. Because people, who scavenge for recyclables know that they would only be contained in clear bags, there is less reason for the black bags to be opened once Starbucks employees set the bags out on the curb. It's bad enough that there are people, who open up recycling bags in search of an item that can be exchanged for a 5¢ deposit, but if scavengers are opening up the black bags in search of food items, then perhaps city officials should be addressing the larger problem of poverty or homelessness that drives people to open up garbage bags in search of aluminum cans or leftover sandwich crusts -- and not targeting Starbucks over the garbage bags it puts out for waste and recycling collection. There's a larger problem that's apparently being left unaddressed here.

It's ironic that the residents of the apartment building at 35-56 79th Street, which is adjacent to the Starbucks, would complain about the Starbucks garbage bags. The residents of 35-56 79th Street are responsible for their own garbage, which lays in plain sight from the sidewalk along 79th Street. There are metal pipes, an errant baby stroller, and other construction materials laying in the alley alongside 35-56 79th Street. It's not known if the Starbucks employees, who must use the shared alley, have ever complained about the garbage belonging to the apartment building next door.


The press conference outside the Starbucks was supposed to also feature State Sen. Jose Peralta, but he did not show up to join Councilmember Dromm and concerned neighbors. The Starbucks company originally opened its location in Jackson Heights as a result of lobbying by Sen. Peralta, The New York Times reported in 2008. The Queens Crap blog observed the irony that Sen. Peralta had suddenly turned against Starbucks when it was he, who had lobbied the national chain to open a coffee shop in Jackson Heights.

Judging by the high number of other posts about garbage on the Queens Crap blog, cleaning up Queens is a huge concern for residents. It is odd that of all Queens, or more specifically Jackson Heights, that the garbage put out by Starbucks would merit such a controversy.

On 74th Street and 37th Road, for example, only a few blocks away from the Starbucks, the city offers no garbage canisters to collect trash near what is arguably the largest transportation hub in the borough.

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On 74th Street, some of the garbage bags, which are placed on the sidewalk, are left open, leak grease and other muck, and stain the sidewalk. While it is true that there is a perception in Jackson Heights that 74th Street needs to be cleaned up, the reality is that the city makes no resources available, like garbage canisters or regular garbage collection, to keep the sidewalks clear in that part of Jackson Heights.

Which is to say that it doesn't seem to make sense why Starbucks is being targeted for its garbage, when there appears to be more pressing areas in Jackson Heights, which need the attention of city officials.

Unless it is because the residents of 35-56 79th Street live on an expensive block, and, by comparison, the businesses located along 74th Street are being deliberately denied city resources, because those business leaders there lack affluence or influence that would translate into government responsiveness ?

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