The Hoboken City Council passed the second reading of an ordinance to requiring lidded trash cans to combat rat infestations at last night’s lengthy meeting.
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“Don’t be giving nobody a fine. I got a picture of a rat in a bed with a child. The mother went crazy. I don’t care how many garbage cans you order,” board of education candidate Pat Waiters, who may also run for the 2nd Ward council seat, said.
Manny Rivera Soler lamented few were present at the last meeting when the measure was approved on first reading to discuss the issue.
“What are the clarifications given that the last meeting was poorly attended? What would be the fines?” he asked.
Rivera noted another resolution regarding an estoppel period of when the law goes into effect was on the agenda again.
“This is an update to the amendments that were made at the August 3rd special meeting. I thought it was a good meeting with enough participation. It’s helpful some of these clarifications were discussed,” stated Council President Emily Jabbour.
“This is just garbage. Recycling is handled elsewhere in the code. This will go into effect August 24th. There will also be a 30-day grace period. We’re just trying to get the word out to the neighbors,” she added.
Councilman-at-Large Joe Quintero, who helped negotiate some of the changes, said mitigation efforts have only yielded limited success so it’s now time to dial in and get more aggressive.
As was discussed earlier this month, building with 10 or less units will be required to have lidded trash cans, with buildings who feel they are unable to comply able to file for an exemption with the Department of Environmental Services.
“You can just attach it [a lid] with a chain. How exactly does one get an exemption?” 6th Ward Councilwoman Jen Giattino asked.
Hoboken Business Administrator Jason Freeman said a notice is going out with a link to an exemption page where people can apply. Only those with a space constraint who can upload a picture are eligible.
“You do have to follow the bag requirements,” he noted, which says they must be waterproof and a certain thickness depending if they contain rodent repellant (1.1 millimeters) or not (3 millimeters).
Giattino continued by asking who residents should call, to which Freeman said the Office of Constituent Services could guide them.
“Our public garbage cans, I also think, are a huge issue. We should probably be doing more pick up on Washington Street, definitely on the waterfront,” she added, claiming that people send her pictures of rats there, sometimes because businesses put their garbage out too early.
2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher said Freeman outlined an exemption process that never made it’s way into the ordinance.
“We have all sorts of questions, it was meant to be as broad as possible. It’s a rushed process. You’ve just suggested a very, very narrow specific only if you don’t have space, which I don’t think is consistent with our ordinance,” she argued.
“I don’t believe this is a rushed process. This has gone back and forth. Creating and granting exceptions for one-off situations can become an administrative nightmare. Our sanitation team can come out to you, and we can grant exceptions,” countered Freeman.
Fisher said that they should make an amendment that considers all residents including the handicapped and the elderly, also questioning how oversized garbaged would be handled.
“If for some reason … they just have more garbage one week … do they just not put the garbage out?” the councilwoman asked.
Freeman said it would not be picked up if it was more than 50 pounds, which has been the case in the city for quite a while, and that there are already bulk item days.
“They’re basically going to somehow know now it’s fifty pounds?” Fisher asked.
Freeman explained the standard had been fifty pounds for some time. He suggested that extra garbage could be put in bags next to cans.
Further dialogue between the two revealed that disabled residents do not have a separate path for an exemption, as well as that the homeowner is responsible for getting a new can if it is lost or misplaced during garbage collection.
“I don’t know why we would waive the estoppel. This literally touches the majority of the people in Hoboken,” Fisher declared.
“It incorporates all the feedback. This is an improvement on what has been passed,” Janbour replied.
“There’s never a reason to waive an estoppel period. We don’t need to waive the estoppel period,” said Fisher.
Jabbour again disagreed, declaring that this is an urgent matter.
5th Ward Councilman Phil Cohen said 13-pound containers are a good substitute for those without large cans.
“People are already making an effort. It’s removed a lot of waste from streets already,” he added.
4th Ward Councilman Ruben Ramos, who said that Cali Carting has lost his garbage cans before, was in favor of waiving the estoppel period since the public is expecting action now.
“We all knew the 32-gallon limit was a thing for decades. Before, they were able to put bags out, and now, they can’t. We need to give the administration the tools they need to execute on this,” Quintero said.
The Hoboken Council passed the second reading of the ordinance unanimously (8-0), with 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco absent.
Without any additional discussion, the estoppel period was waived by a vote of 6-2, with Fisher and Giattino voting no.
The Hoboken Council also passed the first reading of an ordinance implementing further regulations on outdoor dining unanimously (8-0).