With the weather warming, this will likely become less of a visible concern, but the City should also view the spring and summer as an opportunity to crack down on buildings who spew oily black smoke across the New York's skyline. The Gay Recluse has been concerned for some time about the cluster of chimneys in his Washington Heights neighborhood that spew plumes of noxious smoke into the air.
A little digging through Community Board #12 meeting minutes helped him uncover the cause. The money quote:
Smoke complaints probably result from poor quality oil. Inspectors find that dirty oil or waste oil is mixed with clean oil, or that boilers are not calibrated. He agreed to check on past complaints in CD 12 to see if this is a consistent pattern here.
In addition, many superintendents don't have the qualifications to properly calibrate a boiler. A community board member said that it's not sufficient for the DEP to simply issue violations, but to help correct non-compliant boilers or crack down on building owners who don't rectify clearly visible problems.
A gallery showing just how much of a problem this smokestack problem is can be viewed here.