Full alternate side parking rules take effect after hiatus, residents tired of ‘walking in filth’ are okay with it

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Full alternate side parking rules take effect after hiatus, residents tired of 'walking in filth' are okay with it


This week, New Yorkers living in residential neighborhoods that have street sweeping twice a week will be required to move their vehicles semi-weekly once again, ending a policy enacted during the pandemic as a way to avoid unnecessary trips outside.

The old alternate side parking rules go back into effect on July 5th. For Erin Rheiner of Prospect Heights, Brooklyn the return of alternate side parking (ASP) signals a return to an unwanted weekly ritual.

“I think it’s a bummer; I think everyone got used to potentially only having to move their car once a week,” Rheiner, 34, said on a recent Thursday as she waited for the street sweeper to pass. “Obviously, we all want clean streets, but it’d be great if they could figure out a way to keep the streets clean and not have alternate side parking in effect twice a week.”

The reversal comes as Mayor Eric Adams attempts to address frequent complaints about trash and dirty streets, and an increase in the rat population. Kickstarting the program also fully restores a reliable revenue generator for the city. Most available statistics from the city comptroller’s office show the city generated $515 million in annual revenue from parking fines in Fiscal Year 2016, a steady increase compared to prior years. A parking ticket for ignoring ASP rules can cost $65 million.

The twice-a-week alternate side suspension began in late June 2020, as the number of COVID cases from the first wave of the pandemic was subsiding. At the time Mayor Bill de Blasio — who enacted the policy — even suggested it could become a permanent change, telling New Yorkers “we need to rethink the whole model.”

But Adams says the return of the old model serves as a way to address the growing trash problem. “New Yorkers tell it like it is, and everywhere I’ve gone in the last couple of years, they’ve told me the streets don’t look the way they should,” Adams wrote in a statement to Gothamist. “We have heard the complaints loud and clear: we need to get trash off our streets, and by restoring alternate side parking, as well as investing $22 million in additional litter basket pickups, New Yorkers will get the clean streets they deserve.”

The city is also spending $11 million on more street cleaning equipment, including smaller street sweepers that can clean protected bike lanes, according to an announcement by the city in April.

The city sanitation department said the return of full alternate side parking regulations will make the work of its crews easier and more effective too.

“Most New Yorkers are in agreement that the city has been less clean since the pandemic, and part of this stems from the partial suspension of alternate side parking. Not only did this cut street sweeping in half, but in many cases, it impeded our abilities to clean streets even once a week,” Vincent Gragnani, press secretary with the sanitation department, wrote in a statement.

Gragnani notes that one street sweeper can collect 1,500 pounds of trash per shift.

East Flatbush resident Sabine Osias welcomes the return and believes it’s needed.

“If we were able to keep the neighborhood clean, I’d be in favor of the one day [alternate side parking], but unfortunately during the pandemic New York has become very filthy,” Osias said. “I can understand the need to bring back the two days, otherwise we’ll be walking in filth, unfortunately.”

But there could be other consequences of having people move their car more frequently each week: more driving around looking for a spot, and more double parking waiting for alternate side to end, which often leads to blocked streets, and cars honking.

“My apartment faces the street, and it’s definitely been nice for it to be quieter since COVID started,” Jed Dougherty, 35, who lives in Prospect Heights, doesn’t own a car, and isn’t looking forward to the honking again , said. “Whenever they did alternate side parking during school days in the morning, it’s insane.”

Sam Schwartz, a New York Daily News columnist and former transportation commissioner known commonly as “Gridlock Sam,” said he expects the restoration of ASP rules could also result in a 1 to 2% increase in traffic.

“As a result of some people saying, ‘hey, if I can’t find a parking spot I’ll just drive to work,'” Schwartz told Gothamist.

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said he strongly supports the changes and notes there are still 42 alternate side parking suspension days each year, which means there are streets where cars could be parked for as long as two weeks before they have to move.

“That really is a set back for sanitation, but it also means that [other] cars circle around looking for parking endlessly. So, I don’t see that as a win for anybody,” Levine said.



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