NYC outdoor odor complaints hit all-time high: report

Mayor Eric Adams said he primarily smells the odor of marijuana in New York City

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Outdoor odor complaints in New York City have reportedly been on the rise.

"Folks see our investment in sanitation, the city has to be clean and I'm seeing the city get cleaner and cleaner," he told reporters on Friday, according to FOX 5. Adams was addressing a report by the New York Post on odor complaints in the city.

"Maybe I have a New York nose – I'm not smelling the filth. The number one thing I smell right now is pot – like everybody is smoking a joint now, you know?" Adams said. 

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It is legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis for personal use in New York. Adults may smoke or vape cannabis wherever smoking tobacco is allowed under the smoke-free air laws, with some exceptions.

In an analysis of 311 calls, the Post allegedly found that odor complaints have reached an "all-time high," with more than 5,700 calls this year. 

New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks during a news conference at City Hall in New York City, U.S., January 24, 2022. 

New York Mayor Eric Adams speaks during a news conference at City Hall in New York City, U.S., January 24, 2022.  (REUTERS/Brendan McDermid)

That, the publication said, is a 54% increase from 2021. 

Anyone who has spent a steamy summer in New York City knows to expect a symphony of smells, especially with high temperatures exceeding 90 degrees. 

Complaints about odor in New York City are nothing new. These types of complaints posted to TripAdvisor date back as many as 15 years, when Michael Bloomberg was the mayor.

JERSEY CITY, NJ - MARCH 14: The sun sets on the Empire State Building, One Vanderbilt and the Chrysler Building in New York City on March 14, 2021 as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey. 

JERSEY CITY, NJ - MARCH 14: The sun sets on the Empire State Building, One Vanderbilt and the Chrysler Building in New York City on March 14, 2021 as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey.  (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

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The mayor's office confirmed to WNBC that calls about body odor or cooking smells do not go through 311, but the sanitation department's assistant commissioner for public affairs Joshua Goodman explained that he could not confirm the exact numbers reported by the Post because odor complaints might go to different places. 

According to WABC, Adams said the majority of complaints are about idling vehicles. 

Piles of uncollected garbage overflow on Seventh Avenue on November 11, 2021 in midtown, New York City. 

Piles of uncollected garbage overflow on Seventh Avenue on November 11, 2021 in midtown, New York City.  (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images)

"It is automobiles leading the way, car idling leading the way," he said, according to the station. "But outside of cars idling, and we need to make sure we enforce the idling law, I think the city is getting cleaner."

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The mayor's deputy press secretary, Kayla Mamelak, told WNBC that the Post's numbers show a significant increase in "vehicle idling" odor complaints and that's "what’s driving the overall number of 311 odor complaints up this year."

She pointed to a 2019 initiative that pays New Yorkers who submit proof of idling vehicles.