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Council seeks to ease alternate-side rules

The City Council wants to ease alternate-side parking regulations, but the Sanitation Department is not on the same page.. Photo by Juan Soto
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Every morning you hear it on the news: Alternate-side parking regulations are in effect today.

For hundreds of thousands of drivers, that means getting up earlier than normal and double-parking their cars for the 90 minutes the hated rule is in place. After that, back to parking the vehicle, basically in the same spot along the curb.

In response to this longtime urban headache, a majority of City Council members support a proposal to ease these regulations that have been in place for decades. The bill would allow drivers to park their cars once the sweepers have cleaned the streets instead of waiting for the entire 90 minutes the rule is in effect.

But the de Blasio administration wants to stop the idea, and the city Sanitation Department has already objected to it.

Sanitation Commissioner Paul Visconti testified last week at a City Council hearing that sweepers often go back to blocks they have already cleaned. In this case, sweepers would not be able to clean again if cars are parked.

He also pointed out that ticket agents do not have an infallible system of knowing if a sweeper has passed the street or not.

The bill was introduced last week by Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Manhattan), chairman of the Transportation Committee.

“Hundreds of thousands of drivers waste their time sitting in their cars,” Rodriguez said, “when they can be home sleeping, going to the gym or just being around the house.”

The councilman understands the need for the city to take in revenue, “but not at the expense of working and middle-class families.”

Last year, the city took in more than $70 million in fines from approximately 1.2 million parking tickets issued for alternate-side violations. The fines range from $45 to $65, depending on the location where the tickets were issued.

In Queens, the fines are $45. Only for the area south of 96th Street in Manhattan are fines $65.

Drivers usually spend hours moving their cars to avoid getting tickets because of the alternate-side parking rules.

So far, the bill has the support of 39 of the 51-member chamber. Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan), the Council speaker, has not publicly made a decision on the bill yet.

“We are talking with the de Blasio administration to make some changes in the bill, but the important thing is that we pass it,” Rodriguez added.

Cities like San Francisco have put these kind of changes into effect.

“Our office is getting e-mails from New Yorkers encouraging us to continue to work on the bill,” Rodriguez said. “And we are going to do just that.”

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Posted 12:00 am, July 12, 2014
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