Over the weekend, 14-year-old Mario Valenzuela was killed in Queens. Photos from the scene show the teen’s bicycle hanging from the wheels of a dump truck. The distraught driver said he felt a bump before coming to a stop.
The truck belongs to Limited Interior Group, and is one of thousands of private trucks registered with the city to haul waste. The industry has been under pressure for years to improve safety standards, and now a city council bill meant to force companies to do so by changing how they operate is gaining steam. But another plan backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio has gained support from other groups who say the city council bill is bad for business.
Intro 1574, introduced City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso and backed by co-sponsorship from Speaker Corey Johnson, would divide the city up into 20 zones served by one Carter each.
“Shorter routes and improved safety and labor standards will make it so that workers can operate in a safe and deliberate manner while ensuring the general public is not put in harm’s way,” Reynoso said in a statement.
The companies would be evaluated on a number of criteria, and the city’s power to enforce rules in the industry would be increased. Four new council members have signed on to the bill in the past few weeks, bringing the total backers to 23.
That’s not enough for a vote, but it’s a lot closer than the competition.
Still, Reynoso’s insistence on an exclusive zone system where only one company works each zone has people warning of dire consequences for businesses.
Jessica Walker, president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, signed on to a letter last week asking the city to instead consider a borough based system.
“There are going to be companies that are going to go out of business,” she said. “This is terrifying for a lot of businesses.”
Opponents of the exclusive have consistently warned of monopolies taking hold under the new zone system.
“The bill pretty much puts any type of competition to the side, which inevitably is going to lead to higher costs, and potentially terrible service. So we’re going to have more trash on the streets, which nobody wants.”
Some big players like Waste Connections have already snapped up smaller collection companies.
A source close to the bill said the bill was being finalized and would that the council speaker was hoping to pass it soon.