April 4, By Hannah Wulkan
Several Sunnyside business owners are claiming that they have been targeted by the Department of Sanitation and have received unfair citations for trash on the sidewalk outside of their stores.
Eric Barthels, owner of Cooldown Juice at 39-11 47th Avenue, said that he and several other business owners on the block have gotten tickets in the last week for tiny infractions that would not normally be noted, though the Department of Sanitation denies that the block is being targeted.
Other businesses that received tickets included Taj Mahal Grocery at 39-14 37th Avenue, Star Grocery and Deli at 45-86 39th Place, and Touch of Beauty Unisex Salon at 39-11 47th Avenue next door to Cooldown Juice, Barthels said.
Barthels said that he left his shop to run an errand around 10:30 a.m. yesterday, and when he returned around 11:15, he found that he had received a citation for trash outside of his business. He said that there was only a single banana peel on the ground at the time.
He said that he saw the inspector down the street and ran after him to ask him about the ticket, and was told that Mayor Bill de Blasio had requested extra scrutiny of the blocks on 47th Avenue between 39th Street and 40th Street to keep it clean, but that the inspector would not have normally given him a ticket.
Barthels also called the inspector’s supervisor, who he said confirmed that the crackdown was due to de Blasio’s wishes.
“We have fought for better sanitation on this block and are willing to do what it take to make it clean but believe is it unfair to be specifically targeting and ticketed for unreasonable infractions,” Barthels said. “These are mom and pop shops, struggling small businesses, it’s unfair that we are targeted.”
The summons that Barthels received charges $100 for the infraction if the fee is mailed in immediately, or up to $300 if it is delayed.
“It’s not the $100, it’s the unfair targeting that I care about,” Barthels said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Sanitation denied that the block was being targeted and said that the story about de Blasio requesting that the block be targeted “does not sound accurate.” He added that anyone that receives a violation notice could appeal to the Environmental Control Board.