Lawmakers who want to make alternate side parking easier on drivers’ nerves and wallets ran into opposition Monday from sanitation officials concerned with interrupting street cleaning operations.
At a City Council hearing, a Department of Sanitation official cautioned there would be unintended consequences from a bill that would allow drivers to avoid tickets if they stay in their cars on the restricted side when a street sweeper arrives or after the street has been cleaned.
“Our prime objective is to get the street clean, period. We are not concerned with issuing tickets,” said Paul Visconti, assistant chief of cleaning operations at Sanitation.
Visconti said drivers sitting their cars get a courtesy to move out of the way of an arriving street sweeper and that the Sanitation Department needs to keep streets clear for the whole 90 minutes in case a sweeper needs to make a second round, which is more common in the fall.
“If we didn’t have to go around the block twice, it wouldn’t be an issue but we do have to go around the block twice in plenty of instances,” Visconti said.
Lawmakers at the hearing said their constituents feel that the $45 tickets for violating alternate side parking rules is about pulling in more revenue. Astoria Councilman Costa Constantinides said neighbors on his block a few months ago got ticketed 10 minutes before alternate side parking rules were over.
“As a Council member I couldn’t give them a good policy reason,” he said. “It felt as if it was just for revenue.”
The Sanitation Department, meanwhile, said it lacks the technology for real-time GPS tracking of street sweepers so drivers can see if they are in the clear to park their cars.
But with a bill that has 41 sponsors, Councilman David Greenfield asked the Sanitation officials to figure out how to get it done.
“I think we’re going to pass the bill,” he said, “so I would encourage you to start thinking about how we can actually get it done from a technological perspective.”