New containerized garbage cans, continued measures for public property pest control, and updated outdoor dining rules are needed as part of comprehensive rat control efforts, Mayor Ravi Bhalla said in a lengthy Nixle alert.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
For starters, Bhalla said that city inspectors have distributed nearly 2,000 copies of “education materials” have been distributed in “hot zones” where large rodent populations exist.
He added that the city council will soon be voting on mandating containerized garbage cans for properties with 10 units or less, also noting that $125,000 has been spent to date on pest control vendors.
“In an urban environment adjacent to the river, the unfortunate reality is that rats will never be completely eradicated. We are not alone: other cities, including New York City, are grappling with similar issues of rat infestations since the pandemic as well,” the mayor wrote.
“Nonetheless, we continue to use multiple tools in the toolbox to mitigate rodent activities as best as possible.”
At a special meeting on Monday evening, the council approved allowing the city to provide notice to any property owner in writing that rodent baiting/pest control services are required within seven business days, instead of 14.
At the tail end of that session, Business Administrator Jason Freeman said the administration had hoped to do a special meeting on August 3rd at 5 p.m. to vote on a rat control ordinance related to garbage storage/disposal.
Bhalla said today that the measure revolves around the aforementioned containerized cans, which will apply to businesses as well.
“If adopted at a special meeting, the ordinance will also require properties with 10 or more units to utilize containerized garbage bins with fitted lids, unless there are space constraints prevent the landlord or property owner from doing so,” he said.
“In this case, disposable garbage bags must be used that utilize rodent repellent and at least 1.1 millimeter thick, or if the garbage bags do not have rodent repellent, the bags must be at least 3 millimeters thick. If disposal plastic bags are utilized, the garbage must be stored indoors between collections.”
Specifically, the new garbage cans can be no larger than 32 gallons, no smaller than 10 gallons, constructed of material capable of holding garbage without leakage or spillage, less than 50 pounds when full, tightly fitted lids connected to the container, and the accompanying house or lot number displayed at least six inches tall.
To that end, food establishments can utilize covered storage bins, but should contact firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure that the bin will fit within the boundaries of the property and the city’s garbage contractor will pick up the garbage from the bin.
As far as extermination and enforcement is concerned, Bhalla indicates that the city’s Sanitation Division has issued 496 summonses in the last three months for improper garbage disposal, along with another 115 tickets for no lids on garbage cans.
Furthermore, citizen rodent reports can be sent to email@example.com. Residents should include the exact address of the infestation, along with their contact phone number and any additional details and pictures, if available.
Other preventative measures include Hoboken Engineering and Construction Code officials requiring “rodent control before construction mobilization and site disruption begins, throughout the work duration, and until all equipment and materials are removed.”
Regarding outdoor dining/parklets, also known as streateries, further sanitary guidelines are planned such as washing spaces underneath the parklets and regularly scheduled extermination inspections and treatments.
These, along with other related initiatives, are also pending approval from the city council.
Speaking of which, the governing body also recently approved local legislation that requires designating a responsible agent at every residential building who will communicate with the Department of Environmental Services in the event of a rat infestation.
“With the adoption of this new ordinance, violations and summonses will be issued to the responsible agent, who will be responsible for addressing the City’s notices,” Bhalla explained.
“No permits will be granted to a building that utilizes a property management company if the property has not provided a responsible agent contact to the City. ”
The city’s announcement came after 1st Ward council candidate Paul Presinzano rolled out his rat control program yesterday.
A few hours after the Nixle alert went out, 5th Ward council candidate Liz Urtecho released an 11-point plan that calls for the city to declare the situation a public health emergency, have someone at City Hall dedicated to rat management, and establishing a community-based rat mitigation team, among other initiatives.
“There needs to be a more urgent, ‘all hands on deck’ approach that is anchored by community education and involvement. Unfortunately, the steps to date that the Bhalla administration and City Council have taken have not been effective as we have seen the rat infestations only grow in number,” she said in a statement.
“Hoboken and 5th Ward residents urgently need its leaders to engage with the community on this crisis that is impacting everyone in Hoboken, which has not happened to date.”
Editor’s note: This story was updated with a comment from 5th Ward council candidate Liz Urtecho.