FRANCE

With rubbish piling up in their street, Parisians sue the city

Photo posted on the Facebook page of the Dejean Street residents' association.
Photo posted on the Facebook page of the Dejean Street residents' association.

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Rubbish has been piling up in the streets of the Château-Rouge neighbourhood of Paris’ 18th arrondissement and residents are sick of it. Many of them blame the street vendors who they say leave behind dozens of cardboard boxes every day. Recently, the residents of one street, rue Dejean, decided to take the city of Paris to court over the issue.

Rue Dejean is a bustling market street that fills with dozens of vendors who sell their wares illegally, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. At the end of the work day, many of these street sellers leave behind the boxes they use, which create enough of a pile-up to make navigating the street difficult.

Members of the neighbourhood association La vie Dejean often post photos on Facebook that testify to the grimy state of their street, covered with boxes and other waste.

Photo posted on the association's Facebook page.

Fed up, the members of this neighbourhood association decided to take the matter to court. They say that the city is not giving them fair treatment: why should they have to live among rubbish heaps while other Parisians can enjoy life on relatively clean streets? They are seeking 10,000 euros in damages from the city and the same amount from the state.

Video filmed by a resident. 

Christine Soufflet is president of the neighbourhood association La vie Dejean.

Our problem with the street vendors seems to be the very last item on the agenda of the authorities. We’ve reached out to the police and to city hall numerous times but they always tell us that they don’t have the resources to allocate to this problem.

Rue Dejean is a pedestrian street. Between the street sellers who invade the street on the weekends and the delivery trucks that make their rounds at all different times of day, living here has become unbearable – especially because the city cleaning crews come here very infrequently.

We’ve tried to speak to the vendors on numerous occasions, but some of them are aggressive to the point of yelling insults at us. We’ve also tried to talk to the company that the city employs to clean the street but the employees tell us that they don’t have the resources to deal with the amount of rubbish there is.

We decided to take the matter to court because we believe that the state is not living up to its responsibilities.

I think this case has the state worried though because, a few weeks ago, policemen started patrolling rue Dejean. We think that the state has taken this measure so that it can defend itself in front of the judge.

Barbès-Château-Rouge is a vibrant, multicultural neighbourhood in a historic district. Shabby at first glance, it is rapidly gentrifying. Still, Barbès-Château-Rouge has long been associated with crime, including pickpocketing, drug dealing, prostitution and violent robberies. In 2012, the French Interior Minister increased the level of security in the neighbourhood. Still, residents have complained that the authorities have not allocated enough resources to combat these problems.