Mayor Adams wages war against rats

Mayor Eric Adams passed the Rat Action Plan last month to combat the skyrocketing number of rodents scurrying across the city. This week, he contested a fine for his failure to fend them off in his own home.


Manasa Gudavalli

File photo: New York City mayor Eric Adams speaking at an event in the spring of 2022. (Manasa Gudavalli for WSN)

Adrianna Nehme and Kayla Hardersen

Mayor Eric Adams contested a health inspector’s $300 fine for failing to get rid of rats that were infesting his Brooklyn property at a virtual court hearing on Dec. 6. He said he had spent $6,800 on rat mitigation on the property and down the block. 

“There is a rodent problem in the city and you don’t have to go far to know that I hate rats,” Adams said on NY1 on Wednesday, Dec. 7. “Sometimes I hear the counts of the number of rats compared to New Yorkers and it’s frightening, but we are going to bring on a rat czar. We’re going to clean our city with Jessica Tisch, the sanitation commissioner, and we’re going to push these back. I think she says it best: ‘Rats don’t run New York.’”

City health officials issued the summons to Adams after they noticed fresh rat droppings near his house on May 10. Students have also seen signs of rats in NYU buildings — Tisch junior Milan Garcia Milanovic used to live in Palladium residence hall, where he saw a rodent coming out of the dining area’s kitchen. Rats were also spotted at Palladium dining hall last April

The city’s sanitation department implemented a Clean Curbs Pilot Program in April of this year to limit the amount of time trash bags sit on city sidewalks which they believe may attract vermin. NYU received a grant from the program in September to purchase eight industrial-size trash bins and install them in front of Carlyle Court residence hall. 

Adam’s court hearing came almost a week after the Mayor’s office posted a job listing, seeking a Director of Rodent Mitigation — a “rat czar,” they called the position — to control the city’s increasing rat population.

“Despite their successful public engagement strategy and cheeky social media presence, rats are not our friends — they are enemies that must be vanquished by the combined forces of our city government,” the job post said. “Cunning, voracious, and prolific, New York City’s rats are legendary for their survival skills, but they don’t run this city — we do.

Adams signed the Rat Action Plan on Nov. 18, which included four bills attempting to reduce the rat population and to more efficiently dispose of garbage. The legislation requires a report on rat mitigation efforts to be published every year, as well as the designation of rodent-heavy rat mitigation zones, where garbage collection will be scheduled for specific times, and buildings with rodent-specific health code violations will receive rat-resistant garbage cans.

“Why is he focusing on this issue?” Tisch senior Sofía Ko said. “Why are you so focused on fucking rats? There are other things that we need to address.”

Adams also announced the “Get Stuff Clean” initiative on Nov. 10, which allocates $14.5 million toward attending to otherwise abandoned, trash-ridden areas of the city. The process of cleaning these areas includes installing security cameras to ward off illegal dumping and hiring additional exterminators. 

“They don’t bother me,” CAS first-year Kavya Shyam said. “I’m not close to them, but I do know they could have diseases and obviously be a nuisance in public areas, so it’s a good thing that they’re making attempts to get rid of them.”

Contact Adrianna Nehme and Kayla Hardersen at [email protected].