JULIAN ABRAHAM, HOST: There’s a reason rent in New York City is so high - we just don’t have enough space. And that includes for trash which often piles up on sidewalks as a result. So the city has a plan. A Clean Curbs program that promises to clear crowded sidewalks of giant black bags. But as Linnea Arden reports that could mean another problem, fewer parking spots.
LINNEA ARDEN, BYLINE: Something’s rotten in the City of New York. And during a lunch, and Zoom break, Upper West side resident, Jessica Caricato says she’s tired of it.
JESSICA CARICATO: There's this one building like a couple buildings down from mind that like eternally has a pile of trash in front of it have to walk around it every time because it takes up the whole sidewalk and spilling everywhere.
ARDEN: All those trash bags create, not just a pedestrian obstacle, but also a feast for rats. The city says it has a solution. Moving the bags to containers on the curb. But streets have become increasingly crowded with city bike docks and outdoor dining. So while moving the trash would free up some much needed space, it adds to another age-old New York City problem - finding parking.
CARICATO: It's really difficult. It's something you have to plan your whole day around. My sister's my roommate. So sometimes we like, if I've had it, driving around in circles, looking for parking over and over again, I'll tap out and I'll be like, okay, you have to come and take the car now. I wish there were no drivers in the city except for me.
ARDEN: The city says its focus is on commercial waste so the plan won’t impact residential neighborhoods like Caricato’s for a while. It also says the plan would lessen traffic and air pollution. Transportation Planner Lian Farhi, has been consulting on the project
FARHI: there were multiple truck companies that were coming to the same location, by just making the system more efficient, you're able to reduce the number of trucks and the number of miles that they've been going through to collect and pick up the trash.
ARDEN: Farhi says that time and mileage could be reduced by 85%. The idea comes from programs that have worked in other cities, such as Barcelona. Buildings would propose the size and design of containers they need. The containers wouldn’t just be more efficient, they’d hopefully smell better too. They’re required to be sealed, non-flammable and rodent-proof. Designs are also encouraged to include what the city calls “street furniture” - like bike racks and seating - providing some rest for weary New Yorkers.
FARHI: It's funny, because as soon as they put something on the street in New York, someone will sit on it, you know, whether it's a barrier, or our granite block.
ARDEN: Or you know, a container full of trash. The city says the first containers could arrive later this year. But while Upper West Side resident Jessica Caricato says she’d be willing to give up a few parking spots to fix the trash problem, she’s so fed up with finding parking, she’s giving up her car
Linnea Arden, Columbia Radio News.