Officer Anthony Sims has a mission to try to keep streets in North Philadelphia clean and safe.
Sims works for the Sanitation Department. Every week he hands out tickets to landlords who are putting their trash out too early or not cleaning in front of their property.
“The landlords take these old houses, break them up into small apartments, but leave no room for trash cans or recycling bins in the building,” Sims said.
Without adequate receptacles for trash, some tenants end up putting their trash outside where animals can get to it. “I have seen cats and raccoons get into the trash,” Sims said.
Trash pick-up in the area Sims serves is on Friday. Yet, Sims said, many residents start putting their trash in the streets on Wednesday.
“I have seen some tenants throw their trash out second story windows because they have no trash receptacles in their hallways.” Sims said. “It is dangerous to the neighborhood because the animals may be carrying diseases.”
The first two tickets issued for improper trash are warnings. The third ticket issued will cost the landlord $50, up from $25 in 2011. Sims noted that some landlords attempt to pass the ticket costs onto the tenant, but it is the landlords’ responsibility to pay the fine and keep their property clean.
Ken George, a homeowner and landlord, said he thinks the Sanitation Department is targeting lower-income neighborhoods. “They don’t go into white neighborhoods and give tickets, only in the black neighborhoods,” George said. He has gotten tickets but notes he has not paid them yet.
The city’s sanitation workers also keep track of empty lots. After the third violation and once the grass gets above waist high, the city will come out and mow the lot. Tenants and landlords can get free recycling bins from their local community centers.