A crowd huddled in front of Starbucks on Friday in Jackson Heights and it wasn’t to sample a caramel macchiato.
According to city officials and residents, the Starbucks on the corner of 37th Avenue and 79th Street regularly leaves mounds of garbage on a residential street rather than in front of the store along the commercial corridor.
Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) sent a letter to the coffee chain notifying it of its noncompliance with a city administrative code that states businesses must place their garbage on the curb at designated times.
“Starbucks is in regular and flagrant violation of city laws,” Dromm said at the event on Friday. “This is unacceptable and must be corrected immediately. Coffee grinds and sandwiches are regularly strewn across the sidewalk. Starbucks is to blame for the large volume of garbage placed on 79th Street. Boxes with the Starbucks logo are never broken down or bound. In fact, Starbucks boxes are regularly piled on the sidewalk littering the neighborhood.”
The councilman said he complained directly to a manager of the Starbucks but no action has been taken to correct the problem.
“I helped bring Starbucks to this community in the hope of further enhancing the business climate in the neighborhood, as well as our community’s quality of life,” state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst) said. “Thanks to our patronage, the shop is thriving. Now it’s time for Starbucks to be a good neighbor, or we’ll stop being good customers.”
Numerous constituents have called Dromm’s office to complain about garbage that is often left out longer than a day. They have also called 311 on numerous occasions but the city has not issued fines because, according to residents, Starbucks dumps the garbage about 50 feet from their front door, down 79th Street in an “inconspicuous location that inspectors find hard to locate.”
“Starbucks has been littering heavily on 79th Street for several years,” Elisa Carlucci, a 79th Street resident, said. “This is against the law. City agencies such as the Business Integrity Commission and 311, although acting in good faith, have been unable to have any impact because they’re searching in the wrong area, in front of the business’s storefront. Inspectors never think to walk around the corner to residential 79th Street because almost all of the businesses in the area place their debris on 37th Avenue.”
Carlucci complained that the garbage has resulted in bad odor and vermin populating the area.
“This is a real quality-of-life issue, especially for those of us whose apartments face 79th Street, where we are subjected to loud garbage pickups in the middle of the night, food and coffee grinds that are strewn along the sidewalk and street and never cleaned up; coffee also stains the sidewalk. It’s disgusting,” Susan Latham, a resident, said.
A spokeswoman for Starbucks headquarters said this problem is not reflective of the Starbucks brand.
“The company takes pride in being both environmentally friendly and a good neighbor to surrounding businesses and residents,” she said.
The spokeswoman added that the company requires each store to go through specific garbage removal training and the company will review the issues Jackson Heights residents raised and look into the matter further.