New York City to Take Drastic Measure Over Rats

Time when trash can be left on curb will be pushed back 4 hours to 8pm
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2022 8:03 AM CDT
New York City to Take Drastic Measure Over Rats
A rat crosses a Times Square subway platform.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

"I want to be clear: The rats are absolutely going to hate this announcement," Jessica Tisch, New York City's sanitation commissioner, said this week. "But the rats don't run the city. We do." The city, facing a massive increase in complaints about rats, plans to shift the time residents and businesses can put their trash on the curb from 4pm to 8pm, with fines for those who leave it out too early, NPR reports. Tisch described the proposed change, which would take effect on April 1 next year, as "something that no one has had the political will or political capital to pull off over the past 50 years." New Yorkers have been allowed to put their trash out at 4pm since around 1971, when the city stopped requiring the use of metal trash cans, the New York Times

The current start time means trash bags can sit on the curb for 14 hours, attracting rats and other pests, until those bags are collected. "The black bags serve as an all-you-can-eat buffet for rats," Tisch tells the Times. "If the bags are sitting out there for 14 hours, that is a long buffet, and we want to shut it down." There will be a public hearing on the proposal in November. Residents will still be required to put their trash out before midnight. New York City Councilmember Shaun Abreu says the city has seen a 71% increase in rat sightings since 2020, CBS reports. Every day, New Yorkers "see rats in their streets, playgrounds, subways, and even homes," Abreu said at a press conference this week. "This is not Ratatouille. Rats are not our friends."

Residents will be allowed to put their trash out two hours earlier if they use bins with rat-resistant lids. Mayor Eric Adams said the changes will discourage rats "from running their own version of what we like to say, open restaurants." He spoke about his anti-rat efforts as Brooklyn borough president. "Everyone that knows me—they know one thing. I hate rats," he said, per NPR. "When we started killing them in Borough Hall, some of the same folks were criticizing us and called me a murderer because I was killing rats. Well, you know what? We're going to kill rats." NPR notes rats can survive on about an ounce of food a day; 5 million pounds of trash are collected nightly in the city. (Read more New York City stories.)

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