In Fall 2014, seniors from the Academy of Urban Planning (AUP) in Bushwick, Brooklyn voiced frustration with the trash lining their neighborhood’s streets. Students saw this not only as a littering issue but as a vivid detriment to a healthy community identity and sense of pride. Through research, they learned about a “sanitation scorecard” which the city uses to assess neighborhood cleanliness. They also learned that this Department of Sanitation tool hadn’t been updated since the 1980s, when the city was much dirtier and more dangerous. Its categories were so lenient that blighted Brooklyn neighborhoods were in 2015 receiving the same designations as upscale Manhattan enclaves.
Students met with Councilmember Antonio Reynoso and pressed him to lobby for updating the scorecard. That spring, his staff sent AUP video footage of the Councilmember questioning the Department of Sanitation Commissioner at a public hearing, presenting to her the class’ research on the outdated scorecard, and informing her that he’d soon be holding a hearing of his own to address the issue.
“A couple of high schools in my district took on street cleanliness...They went to a street in Manhattan, took a picture and it was rated at a 94, and then they took a picture of a street in Bushwick which was also rated at a 94, and there was a discrepancy, of course...The standards we’re using for street cleanliness came about in the 1970s...I’m just hoping we can talk about modifying the street cleanliness program in the city of New York.” - City Council Member Antonio Reynoso
Check out City Councilmember Reynoso discussing the need for an updated scorecard