Are tickets the answer to the trash problem in Hamtramck


By Omar Thabet
The Yemeni American News

Last Month we published an article titled “Hamtramck has a Trash Problem.” The article discussed the issues residents and business owners face in Hamtramck with litter being all over the city. Some blamed the city officials of not doing enough and mentioned that ticketing residents is not the answer to the solution. While others said it is a community problem and the residents should take responsibility.

We decided to post the article on the “I Love Hamtramck” Facebook page so that we can start a dialogue about the issue. Here are some the comments residents left on the Facebook Page:
One user said: From the article: Hussain said, “I believe it’s unfair that the residents are getting tickets for not cleaning up around their home areas and the city lots are filled with trash and weeds as well. I’m saying that if the city cleans up their area first, then the residents will most likely follow.” ISN’T KEEPING YOUR HOME CLEAN A MATTER OF SELF-RESPECT AND PERSONAL PRIDE? Residents should be keeping their homes and alleys clean no matter what anyone else is doing. We pick up litter daily, scrape the street against the curbs and keep weeds to a minimum all around our corner property, including the alley. And when our next door neighbor neglects to do his part (more often than not) we pickup up his litter and pull his weeds too lest our house looks bad because of his laziness. It’s a daily battle but better to engage in the battle than to look dirty and low class.
Instead of blaming the residents, one user hinted that the problem is deeper than just citizens picking up after themselves. This user said: The preface to the article, “There’s no easy way to say it” is ironic because the article goes on to say it in the easiest way they are able to. This is just another news “report” that cannot (so it dares not) speak of the macro-level causes of this problem that, if acknowledged, could and would be addressed, resulting in an end to this problem. No, instead, this article (like the others that have come before it) assign the problem to society and offers us up the played-out opportunity for the “when I lived there’s” and the “Not Like we Remember’s” to blame the “others” and the “newcomers”. Don’t get drawn into it. The causes are more systematic than each other.
Another user said: If everyone cleans in front of their own homes it’s a start. Landlord or tenant; I believe everyone who doesn’t cut their grass/weeds should be given a first notice. Then (they should be) fined. Passing the buck does not help; take responsibility for where you live.
With that said, are handing residents and business owners tickets the answer to the trash problem in Hamtramck?
Tawfaq Al jaham, who is the owner of Fantastic Subs in Hamtramck, says yes. Al jaham said, “The best way to make sure the city is clean is to issue a ticket to anyone who is not cleaning around their house or business. The city used to do it before and it was working, so they should keep on doing it.”
Hamtramck City Councilman Ian Perrotta also chimed in on this issue. Perrotta said, “I don’t feel that ticketing residents for not cleaning up around their homes is the solution to the trash problem in Hamtramck, but I do think it’s a start. I have advocated for more code enforcement in the past, because I believe that holding people accountable for their actions and inactions does yield positive results. However, ticketing residents is a reactive response, and in order to really have an impact I believe the city and its leaders need to be proactive. This means educating residents about city ordinances, proper trash disposal, and other aspects that can have an impact on their lives.”
Perrotta was then asked ‘what are some other solutions to keep the city of Hamtramck clean?’ He said, “The best solution to keeping Hamtramck clean is to not allow overgrown weeds, unkempt lots, and strewn and blowing trash to be accepted as normal. All residents should be proactive in ensuring the cleanliness of the city, and it starts at home. Keep your property clean by maintaining the yard and surrounding premises, properly bag up and dispose of your trash in an approved container with a closed lid, and don’t contribute to the problem by allowing your children, friends, or neighbors to get away with littering and other disrespectful behavior. If every property in Hamtramck maintained its own premises I believe this would have an impact on the problem we have now.
Hamtramck City Manager Kathy Angerer didn’t comment on if issuing residents tickets for not cleaning around their homes is or is not the solution to the trash problem in Hamtramck.
Angerer did say though that, “The City expects that our residents would ‘Be a Good Neighbor’ and keep their property clean of debris and in good repair. When residents keep their property clean, from repairing the structure to tidying up the yard and alley, they are part of a clean community and safe environment for their children, neighbors and community. The City provides residents with containers to place their trash in and weekly pick-up can be utilized for one large item a week if residents need that service.  Additionally, we host a spring clean-up where we annually provide dumpsters for those who wants to dispose of a large amount of waste.”
Note from the Writer: It seems like tickets can help the problem, but isn’t the only solution. Residents and business owners need to take responsibility into their own hands and clean up after themselves. This is our home; it’s time we treat it like it is.