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grievance: washing new york city streets

Who thought it was honestly necessary to start washing New York City streets? Please tell me I am not the only one who has pondered this question or, at least now that I'm bringing it up, can get on board with my confusions, because this is totally whack.

Okay, yes, I live in a REALLY nice area of the city whose community issues I've become pretty well versed in and it's become offensively obvious to me that the people who live here are so affluent that they have nothing to complain about but absurdities. So, it's certainly predictable that there would be maintenance men of my building and those around me washing down the streets in front of the buildings on a daily basis... but that doesn't detract from the sheer silliness of it.

I DO understand the desire to have the area in which you live be nice and attractive, but THESE ARE STREETS. Why are apartment OWNERS paying thousands of dollars in maintenance a month to pay for people to clean the surrounding areas, i.e. the EARTH, near which the buildings in which they live are situated?? This is my big problem: yes, sidewalks are essentially "man-made," HOWEVER they are still OUTSIDE, and a part of the earth, versus the marble floor of my building's hotel-like lobby, which I assure you, I believe needs to be cleaned. But like, ummm... UMMMMMM HELLOOOOOO, this is the earth. It has its own built-in cleaning mechanism, namely the RAIN.

Furthermore, I find this practice completely futile... no matter how much you hose down the CONCRETE STREETS, they're still going to be disgusting. And what is this trying to effectuate? BECAUSE it is concrete, it looks the exact same when it's "clean" and when it's "dirty." So are the boards of buildings deciding to do this so that pedestrians can SIT on the street? Or lie down?

With all of that said, I'm not big into getting into people's business unless it directly effects me... and this is how it DOES effect me: in keeping with the theme of my blog about wearing sandals and shorts in the rain, I DO NOT WANT THE BOTTOMS OF MY PANTS AND/OR SHOES TO GET WET. If it's raining, fine, I have to deal with that and either wear appropriate clothing or deal with the decision I've made if it HAPPENS to rain. But why am I forced to look like a COMPLETE ASSHOLE, holding my pants up from the thigh as I walk over certain patches of New York City streets?!?!?!?! So effing stupid.

Dissatisfied, Water-Hating New Yorker



  1. Ok, first of all: I don't think the maintenance people in your building are cleaning the "Streets". They are likely cleaning the sidewalks which, although owned by the City of New York, are required to be maintained by the adjacent landowners. If your building and its employees (and your neighbors, residential or commercial) are spending time/money to maintain the sidewalks, it's because they have a vested financial interest in keeping the sidewalks free of debris, hazards and defects. Their failure to maintain the sidewalks exposes them to financial liability should a pedestrian get injured on the sidewalk adjacent to your building. This applies to each of the nearly 13,000 miles of sidewalk in the City!
    It only takes one amazing Plaintiff's negligence attorney (I don't know: ME, for example) to turn a big reserve fund at a co-op into a HUGE assessment for the owners!

    As for the streets, which is what you started by talking about, I can assure you that --even if it doesn't appear that way-- the street cleaning makes an incredible difference in the appearance of our City. Without the street cleanings, the curbs/gutters would fill with so much discarded trash that the City would a) look like crap; b) smell like crap; and c) have so many rats and roaches, visible on the streets, that you would quickly move away from your beloved Sutton!
    Yes, I realize that it doesn't always appear that the street cleaning is entirely effective when you walk down the street and see trash strewn about, BUT that is almost always RECENT trash. Imagine how bad it would be if the trash you see on the streets were NEVER picked up. I'm not entirely sure of the statistics, but I'm guessing a beer can, in the gutter would likely take 10 years to biodegrade if it weren't picked up as part of the bi-weekly street cleaning.

    Something else to consider: The New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY) was founded in 1881 AS "The Department of Street Cleaning". Keeping the streets of NY clean is a noble goal and has been part of the City's culture and history for well over 100 years.

    Finally, let me point out that IF you had approached this diatribe from the perspective of a car owner; forced to move your car 2-4 mornings a week due to the street-cleaning regulations, I think I would have been somewhat more sympathetic to your plight.
    However, merely finding the residual water from the cleanings a pain to walk around, for fear of ruining your shoes doesn't tug at my heartstrings.
    You're NOT a "Water-Hating New Yorker".
    You're just annoyed at the temporary --and quite minimal-- inconvenience.
    Truth is: knowing you as I do, I can't, for a second, believe that you don't support the efforts to clean up NYC streets.

    "New York City: 'The City That Never Sleeps'. . . .that's why it looks like shit in the morning!!"

    --Bill Maher]

  2. hosing down streets as a form of street sanitation is not particular only to new york city but to most major cities i have been to in other parts of the country and world (at least those cities comparable in standards to New York City). For instance, in Spain, Madrid and Barcelona imparticular, the locals joke about how you don't need a calendar of days because you always know it has been a weekend because of the civil guard out hosing down the streets. And these guys (and gals) are serious. Not just building-hired maintenance workers in dull blue workers uniforms. These civil guard folk look like they might be the third wave of chemical soldiers. The streets of Madrid get disgusting. This happens when eight or nine million people live in close proximity. Now imagine a large city that may be comparable to NYC in size, but not municipal efficiency or organization. Say, Tangiers. This city, as well as the rest of major cities morocco, have their own particular romance going on. The winding maze of the medina during the morning and afternoon, the strange hustle that seeps into every interaction, i could go on and on. Most of all there exists a peculiar sort of lawlessness in these places. Streetlights do not exist, garbage collectors in the "civilized" sense do not exist, and there sure as shit is no organized sanitation committee. The sidewalks are fucking filthy from the constant buildup of dirt and miscellanous debris. Now, would you rather drag your precious shoes and bottom of your pants through week old clemintine peels, dog shit and human piss, or some fucking water every once and a while. and who cares if you look stupid kate, i mean really?

    And, since when is three feet of concrete considered part of the earth. don t try to use granola logic and new age rejuvination bullshit here. Yes, the earth has ways of cleansing and cleaning itself. But this only works in a system where the ecosystem is not playing perpetual catch up. The rain is barely maintenance. Just like when we are busy as hell at the bar, sure everybody is getting served, we are maintaining some order, but have little time to clean the bar top which can be equated to the surface of the earth. only after everyone has left, even after we have left the bar, and the porters come in to clean it all up does shit get clean.

    so, in polite ending, you are full of shit. in the nicest way possible.

  3. Try hemming your pants, Jenn...I'd rather have some maintenance man hose down my sidewalk so the soles of my feet are temporarily wet instead of covered in piss & shit.

    Washing sidewalks when it's obviously going to rain, however, is another story entirely.