Yorktown Litter Camera Law Inspires Similar Law in Yonkers

In November 2016, a resident’s surveillance camera caught a litterbug in the act of throwing trash out the car window. Credits: Michael J. McDermott

YONKERS, N.Y. – The fourth-largest city in New York, and the largest city in Westchester, has passed legislation mirroring Yorktown’s litter law, which allows the town to administer fines based on photographs and video recordings.

On July 6, the Yonkers City Council voted 4-3 to pass a law that is nearly identical to the one the Yorktown Town Board passed in July 2016. In a news release posted on its website, the council also gave kudos to Yorktown for inspiring the law.

Democrats on the city council voted against the legislation, questioning its fiscal impact.

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“We don’t know how much the cameras will cost, we don’t know what revenue will be generated to offset the cost, we don’t know how it’s going to be implemented, if there is going to be additional personnel needed to monitor this program and who’s going to do it,” said Minority Leader Michael Sabatino.

Council President Liam J. McLoughlin, who drafted the law, said it does not require Yonkers to spend any money.

“To a certain extent, if the city never bought a camera, the public could still submit their recording of people littering,” McLaughlin said.

Five months after passing the law, the described situation happened in Yorktown. A resident who had set up their own security cameras caught a motorist discarding trash on the roadway. He submitted the images to town officials, and the motorist was fined.

Under Yorktown’s “Recorded Images Violations” local law, any motorist caught on camera littering from his or her vehicle is subject to a fine up to $500. In almost all cases, the owner of the vehicle will be subject to the fine, regardless of who was driving the vehicle or who littered.

Yorktown Town Supervisor Michael Grace said he was thrilled to hear about Yonkers passing its own version of the law.

“I think it’s great,” Grace said. “The response we got when we passed that legislation, from people in New York and outside of New York, they thought it was a very innovative approach to combating litter. Any community can benefit from it.”

Grace said the town is still exploring purchasing “quite a few” of its own anti-litter surveillance cameras at particular “hotspots” around town. In June, the town asked local companies to submit price quotes for supplying the cameras.

“We just wanted to see what was the best bang for the buck,” Grace said.

According to a request for proposals (RFP), the cameras would be set up at eight locations throughout town. The cameras would be required to photograph cars traveling up to 50 miles per hour, day and night, clearly capturing license plates.

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