In a Battle It Cannot Win, New York City Will Spend $32 Million to Fight Rats

Try me, Bill. Photo: Kai Schreiber/CC/flickr

Mayor Bill de Blasio is introducing some special new garbage cans to the city’s arsenal in the unending struggle against New York City rats. It’s all part of the city’s new $32 million plan to destroy — er, reduce by 70 percent — the critter population in three rodent hot spots in the Grand Concourse neighborhood in the Bronx; the East Village, Lower East Side, and Chinatown in Manhattan; and Brooklyn’s Bushwick and Bed-Stuy neighborhoods. The mayor announced the new initiative Wednesday, which besides adding some of these new trash bins, includes a bunch of other preventative and enforcement measures to keep the rats at bay. To hear de Blasio tell it, no rat, except for one, will be spared. “It doesn’t matter what community you’re in, everyone wants to get rid of rats,” he said. “I will admit personally to having a certain admiration for pizza rat, but that’s the only rat I have ever managed to like.”

The new “solar compactor” trash bins are the flashiest — and priciest — new addition to the rat-annihilation plan, though the city says they’ve contributed to a 90 percent reduction in rats in places where they’ve been “fully deployed.” They are basically a mailbox, but for garbage, and the city is looking to install 336 of them at the cost of $7,000 each to purchase and maintain.

The city will also replace more than a thousand wire-mesh trash cans with steel ones, and, starting in 2018, will start cementing over dirt basements in public-housing buildings and install better trash compactors in NYCHA complexes. The city will also step up enforcement for violators who dump trash illegally or who fail to make repairs or clean up spaces that are attracting rats. And the mayor proposed some new regulations as part of the plan, including one that would force buildings with ten or more units in the targeted neighborhoods to put out trash for collection no earlier than 4 a.m. — in other words, not the night before. That will have to get through City Council, but the hope is these proposals, combined with the city’s rat reservoir program, will at least give humans a shot. Maybe.

New York City Will Spend $32 Million to Fight Rats