Rats! Part Deux

A loose organization of shopkeepers and residents from Jay, Hudson and Duane, including the folks from Friends of Duane Park, took a stroll around the neighborhood with Chris Marte and reps from the Department of Health and my big takeaway was MORE COMPOSTING. And this is why:

The phrase repeated over and over by the DoH folks was the crux of the biscuit when it comes to rat control is food availability. (Duh, I guess.) I also heard this from the exterminator who installed the new traps in the neighborhood. So my takeaway: the only way to really really get rid of rats is to take away their dinner. (Covered trash cans are not permitted, since it’s a terrorism issue. And there is not an obvious solution for curbside trash cans, like they use in single family homes.)

That means keeping bags of garbage off the streets all night long, which is what goes on in Tribeca. In our building, our former super used to come in really early so he could get the bags out that same morning for pick up. But now our bags go on the street the night before, as with most buildings.

So this is where compost comes in. Back when we had city composting, not only did I take the garbage out half or even a quarter as much from my own apartment, most of the food waste from our building (not all, since not everyone was compliant) ended up in a sealed plastic container issued by the Department of Sanitation, rather than jumbled in with all the other garbage (mostly other plastic bags) that sit on the curb in plastic garbage bags.

It seems to me that if the city got back on track with required composting, we might be closer to a rat solution AND a reduced garbage solution. Of course a progressive building could probably figure this out for themselves and not wait for the city to get it together…

How we solve for this with the city’s restaurants, which have private carters and clearly are not staffed early in the morning, when trash is collected, is a tough one. Maybe containers on the sidewalk, as one person in the group suggested? (You might see that this is what Sushi of Gari is doing, though not sure it’s legal?) Maybe enforced commercial composting? (The state of Vermont banned food scraps from landfills in 2020.)

Personally I would pay to have the city pick up my compost. In fact, six of my neighbors and I did pay during the pandemic — we used a service from Fountain House and for $6 a week they grabbed our bins in the lobby. They discontinued the service once the city brought back compositing, but as we know that has been a slow rollout.

A few more issues: Duane Park Patisserie got high praise for having a rat trap stationed just outside its curbside shed, but that is the exception: the problem with the curbside dining is it is an extension of restaurant space that is not getting regular rat treatments, as the inside space would.

And another sad fact: the city’s rat management programs were put on pause during the pandemic, and that’s part of the reason we are paying the price now. Ugh.



  1. Paid a total of $2000 to fix car after twice rats on Jay also Greewich ate through my cables. Especially bad in front of PS 234. Hope the city get’s the program up and running soon

  2. These bags work well for our rat problem- rats don’t like mint apparently. https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B089ZHFJP1?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2_dt_b_product_details I leave the box in our lobby, and ask residents and tenants to put their full trash bag inside a mint one on their way to the curb. We don’t distribute them beforehand, as it is best to keep them in the closed box to keep scent strongest.

  3. One ounce of food and one ounce of water will feed a rat for a week. We need to get food off the streets. Mint bags are only minimally if at all helpful.

  4. Have you heard RFOR? It’s the new rodent lobbying association Rats For Outdoor Restaurants.

  5. I recently attended a zoom presentation by Chris Marte and Allie Gumas from the Dept. of Sanitation. The city has a program for Sanitation to pick up compost from buildings. They provide the bins, building residents put their compost in them, and the super or other responsible person wheels the bins to the street for once a week pick up. It is only happening in a few parts of the city. How much it will be extended to other areas is dependent on the City’s Budget allocation to Dept.of Sanitation.

    • We used to have compost pickup in Tribeca, pre-pandemic, and DOS told me that enough people here have not signed up yet.