Today’s news:

Ugly lawn litter begone!

If the barrage of circulars thrown onto your stoop, lawn or porch has you seeing red, a glimpse of green may be right around the corner.

On August 2nd, the city began enforcing legislation passed last year by the state, which prohibits those distributing circulars, menus or other advertising materials from dropping them at homes whose owners have posted signs requesting that the materials not be left.

Enforcement of the law – which requires that the signs and their lettering meet certain criteria – is as simple as filling out a complaint form, which can be gotten on line at the Department of Sanitation’s website (www.nyc.gov/html/dsny/html/home/home.shtml), or by calling 311 – and mailing it, with the advertising materials that were left, to the agency.

Each violation that is sustained brings with it a $250 fine to the advertiser.

“Finally… a way to fight unsolicited advertising, and prevent those unsightly and wasteful piles of paper on your property!” noted John Doherty, the city’s Sanitation commissioner, in a column appearing on the agency website.

This is great news, said City Councilmember Simcha Felder, a strong proponent of the legislation.

“I think it’s appropriate to say, after people have been feeling driven crazy by the city issuing summonses for different things, that we can celebrate for once the city issuing summonses to the people who are driving us crazy,” Felder remarked. “You should have the right to say, I don’t want that junk, and if someone doesn’t listen, there should be a penalty.”

City Councilmember Vincent Gentile also applauded the institution of an enforcement mechanism.

“After eight or nine months of the law being in effect,” he remarked, “DOS has finally caught up and put teeth into the enforcement. Now, we have an actual form and a mechanism by which people can process a complaint against advertisers who throw stuff onto properties that have a sign posted.”

Also celebrating the milestone was Mark Levy, vice president of Sustainable Flatbush, who joined Felder at a City Hall press conference that was held to mark the beginning of enforcement.

Levy, who said he was “very committed to sustainability” and “very concerned about recycling,” told this paper that he was frustrated by the amount of unwanted paper he was recycling on a weekly basis.

The law, he said, “Is a prime example of thinking globally while acting locally.

“We vocally oppose the waste of thousands of pounds of paper that unsolicited materials represent,” Levy went on. “No one should have the right to dump little this way.”

Having the law, he added, benefits not only residents but businesses. “If I were advertising to someone and they were throwing out my ad, I wouldn’t be very happy,” Levy noted, stressing that the law was, “Good for business, good for the environment and good for the neighborhood.”

How much of a difference will enforcement make? “With blocks where many homes have signs, it’s gotten better already,” reported Felder. “On blocks where many people have the signs, they don’t even bother. With the issuance of a few violations, it’s going to get even better.”

The process was improved, added Gentile, by a change DOS made at his suggestion. “They made the complaint process easier,” Gentile remarked, “By eliminating the requirement of having to have complaint forms notarized. That would have put a damper on the number of complaints received.”

According to material distributed by DOS, the sign must be a minimum of five inches in height and seven inches in width. The message – Do not place unsolicited advertising materials on this property – should be in legible lettering, at least one inch in height. The sign should be placed in a visible location, according to DOS.

Besides private homes, apartment buildings can also post signs saying the number of residents who want to receive advertising materials, says DOS, and designating a spot in which they can be left.

Complaint forms should be mailed to Director of Enforcement, NYC Department of Sanitation, c/o Unsolicited Advertisement Enforcement, 1824 Shore Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11214.

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