Why aren't  our streets clean?digitalcity
by: Stephen Puibello
Reprinted with permission of Digital City Boston/America Online


Lack of towing blocks sweepers;

City departments blame each other!

Did you find a white flyer on your windshield last March from the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) reminding everyone that April 1st marked the beginning of the street-cleaning program?

Did everyone read this year the BTD really was going to tow cars that were not moved on the scheduled street-cleaning day? Did everyone read the fine print at the bottom of the white flyer that read, "This is only a scare tactic?"

Well, the truth is that the fine print wasn't there -- but it should have been. According to the BTD, the city has a TOTAL of just 10 tow trucks -- less than a dozen trucks which they use for everything from emergency road calls, police department business, abandoned cars, etc.

What about street cleaning?

If you ask the BTD about cars not being towed to make room for the street cleaners, the answer is: We just don't have the money to support the street cleaning program. When I share that answer with my neighbors, everyone's response is the same: "Doesn't ticket revenue generate money?"

If you are frustrated at having to live with the dirty streets, try calling city hall for an answer.

Here's how a recent inquiry went:

BTD: "BTD" (No name given, no good morning, no how may I help you, or a how may I direct your call.)

NEIGHBORHOOD GUY: I have a question regarding street cleaning and towing.

BTD: Is it towing or street cleaning that you have a question with?

NEIGHBORHOOD GUY: Both, as the street cleaning program relies on the towing of

vehicles in order to effectively clean our streets.

BTD: Well, sir, BTD towing is this number and street cleaning is 635-4680.

NEIGHBORHOOD GUY: Please connect me to someone who can tell me why the cars aren't being towed.

BTD: Let me connect you to Boston Public Works.

NEIGHBORHOOD GUY: Yes, I have a question regarding street cleaning and

the policy on towing vehicles. Is the city supposed to tow cars or not?

BPW: Well, we're responsible for the street cleaning and BTD is responsible for the


NEIGHBORHOOD GUY: Yes, and I was told that they do not have enough tow trucks to tow cars, therefore, the streets remain dirty. Why bother street cleaning if the city cannot clean the streets properly.

BPW: Well at least some of the block gets cleaned.

According to Seth Andrea McCoy in the Mayor's office, Neighborhood Services says that the City Council keeps slashing the budget when the city asks for new tow trucks. A city council aide says that's not true, but meanwhile it's June and two months out of the six-month street cleaning program (Apr 1. - Nov. 1) have been done correctly.

NEIGHBORHOOD GUY: Why can't the city lease more trucks to support the six-month program, or hire private contractors to do the towing?

BPW: Most residents in most neighborhoods move their cars with the exception of Back Bay and Beacon Hill where folks can afford the mere $20 fines, also after multiple tickets aren't paid cars do get towed.

NEIGHBORHOOD GUY: Yeah, but that's still many weeks that the street doesn't get cleaned! Why not hire street sweepers who are able to sweep around parked cars?

BPW: Because a street sweeper vehicle can clean 25 miles of car-free streets in a day!

NEIGHBORHOOD GUY: But not if it pulls up to a block with parked cars on it. Maybe if the city had more litter baskets on its streets, the streets themselves wouldn't be so dirty.

And so we have another Monday morning of excuses instead of solutions from the management of our city!


Public Opinion Poll

Write to me (screen name: BackBayNag) with your answers to all or some of the following questions or post your thoughts on my message board:

1) Would you support individual street sweepers who would have the ability to clean

around parked cars, so that the entire street gets cleaned, knowing that you would never have to move your car?

2) Do you support the existing system of un-towed cars, $20 fines, and un-cleaned


3) Should the city lease additional tow trucks for six months or hire independent

contractors to tow at the owners expense on top of the $20 fine.

(Steve Puibello is Digital City Boston's Neighborhood Guy. He will be writing twice a month, but will be looking for your thoughts and ideas in the Neighborhood Guy's message boards. So, if you have thoughts on this street cleaning and related car towing campaign, or on any other issue affecting the neighborhoods of Boston, go to the message boards and give him a piece of your mind.)


Transmitted: 07/24/97 13:19