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City Council Discusses Bill Giving Drivers Alternate-Side Parking Break

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Moving cars for alternate-side of the street parking is a routine that New York City drivers dread.

But as CBS 2's Elise Finch reported, a new plan on the table would change the rules of alternate-side parking so that drivers could park on the restricted side of the street without getting a ticket.

City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, (D-10th), who represents Washington Heights and Inwood in Upper Manhattan, introduced a bill in March that would allow drivers to park on a street during the posted street cleaning times, once a street sweeper has moved through.

The City Council discussed the bill Monday.

City Council Discusses Bill Giving Drivers Alternate-Side Parking Break

Currently on alternate-side days, drivers must move their cars for periods of time -- generally 90 minutes to two hours -- to allow for street sweeping, and anyone caught parking during those times could be ticketed.

Motorists find the process to be a hassle and a nuisance.

"I can't see any justification for having a set time, when it's only to allow something that happens in a relatively short time," said Stephen Baldwin of the Upper West Side.

But under Rodriguez's plan, that would all change. The plan also asks for drivers in their vehicles to be ready to move immediately for street sweepers.

Rodriguez wants GPS technology to help ticket agents see which streets have already been swept. Some other City Council members have also backed the proposal.

"For the greater good of the entire city, I think this is a common-sense piece of legislation," said Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-27th), representing southeast Queens.

But the Department of Sanitation disagrees, saying the proposed change will lead to more idling – hurting air quality. The department said the proposed change in parking rules could prevent crews from doing their jobs.

"The department must reserve itself the discretion to return back to any street blocks along the route to service a previously obstructed dirty area," said Department of Sanitation assistant chief of cleaning operations Paul Visconti. "Ensuring unimpeded access becomes compromised if motorists are allowed to re-park their vehicles before the 90-minute period expires."

But councilmembers and drivers said in their experience, street sweeper crews rarely have to return to blocks they have already cleaned.

"That guy wants to get his job done and continue to go uptown to the next neighborhood he has to clean," said Jeffrey Pew of the Upper West Side. "He's not going to come back and do a second pass."

Alternate side parking violations generate lots of revenue for the city, with each violation resulting in a $45 ticket.

Last year, the city wrote nearly 1.3 million tickets to drivers in violation of alternate-side parking rules for total revenues of an estimated $70 million.

But some councilmembers said the city need to find other ways to make money.

"I hope that we can be more creative. And we should not be going after working-class and middle-class when the street already has been cleaned," Rodriguez said.

Drivers who spoke to CBS 2 were in favor of the change. They said the city's alternate side parking regulations are outdated and unfair.

"Once it's clean, the rational thing to do would be to be able to park there," said Luke Hawkins of the Upper West Side.

Ronald Walker, a Brooklyn father of two boys, told 1010 WINS' Carol D'Auria he knows the streets need to be cleaned. But he said he would love to see the alternate-side parking rules changed.

"Sometimes they get done early – as soon as it turns 10 o'clock, they're already finished, and you have to wait an hour and a half, when ultimately, still, you've got to get to work and then it's hard to find parking," Walker said.

But Walker wondered how a traffic agent would know a street sweeper has been passed. Unlike, snow plows, street sweepers do not have GPS systems and cannot be tracked.

The proposal must be voted upon by the City Council Transportation Committee, and the full City Council, before any changes would take effect. The bill has overwhelming support, and is expected to become law as early as this fall.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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