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NYC Councilman: Paint Curbs Near Fire Hydrants

NEW YORK (CBS 2/ WCBS 880) -- In New York City, parking near a fire hydrant can cost you dearly. So a councilman is proposing a way for motorists to "see" how close they can get to a pump and still be legal.

Do you know how far away a parked car must be from a hydrant? Well, the answer is 15 feet. CBS 2's John Slattery saw several vehicles well within that distance on Thursday.

With several hundred thousand tickets issued each year for parking too close to a hydrant, Councilman David Greenfield wonders how many of us can actually judge the proper distance.

"Motorists shouldn't have to carry a tape measure in order to park their car in New York City," said Greenfield, D-Brooklyn.

The answer, he said, is to get out the red paint.

"The simple solution for New York City is to paint the curbs red 15 feet in either direction and people will know exactly where to park and where not to park," Greenfield said.

Chicago paints the zones in Yellow and New York did decades ago. The remnants can still be seen. The head of the Council's Transportation Committee said it should be explored.

"It's a mammoth undertaking, but I do think the people should know where the boundaries of the fire hydrants are," said Councilman James Vacca, D-Bronx.

Proponents said defining the distance might actually add parking spaces, by the thousands.

Motorists in Brooklyn said, get out the paint.

"If it's painted and you're across the red line you should get a ticket. If not, you shouldn't get a ticket," motorist Joseph Lavi said.

Greenfield and Councilman Daniel Dromm of Queens are also proposing that the zones be reduced in overall size from 30 feet to 20 feet.

"Twenty feet is plenty of space for fire trucks," Greenfield said.

But the FDNY disagrees. A spokesman said fire engines need 30 feet to connect as fast as possible. As for the red curbs, the spokesman said it would be helpful.

There are more than 109,000 fire hydrants in the city. So, the cost of such a painting project in tight economic times will be a critical question.

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