Snow, Ice And Parking Tickets Impact West End
By Howard Schwach
The storm that hit Rockaway last Wednesday was reasonably modest in terms of accumulation as snowstorms go, but it was messy and icy and led to lots of problems for Rockaway motorists, especially those in the west end, where parking slots are always at a premium.
On Thursday, after the storm had passed by, Mayor Michael Bloomberg told motorists, "This was not a lot of snow, and it should be easy to move your car," adding that he'd rather sleep in and not move his car, but that "if we all do it together rather than griping, we'll all be better off."
That angered many locals, especially those whose cars were plowed in by mounds of unmovable ice and frozen slush and found summonses on their car for not obeying the alternate side rules.
Bloomberg had first refused to lift the alternate side parking regulations on Thursday, saying, "We want to get the snow and ice off the roads as quickly as possible so emergency vehicles can get through, so that you can get to work, so the kids can get to school."
"I can't get my car out because of the ice," said a motorist on Beach 90 Street, who asked not to be identified, as he looked at his car hemmed in by two feet of solid ice. "Even if I could move it, where would I put it? The other side of the street is buried as well."
Bloomberg came under heavy fire from both residents and local politicians for the cavalier way in which he treated the buried motorists. He decided to forgive the alternate side parking tickets given on Wednesday and the latter part of the week.
While city officials declined to give a number to the amount of tickets handed out on the peninsula on Wednesday and Thursday, there were many calls to The Wave complaining of tickets that could not be avoided.
And, while the Mayor decided later in the week that he was wrong not drop the alternate side rules those days, and that those alternate side tickets did not have to be paid, there were other tickets given out in Rockaway that will not be forgiven as easily.
For example, on Wednesday, all of the Muni-meter machines on Beach 116 Street were made inoperative by a thick coating of ice. Motorists parking on the street could not get the mandated receipt to park on the street to pick up a newspaper or some ice melt.
The Wave received numerous calls from locals who received tickets for parking without a receipt in the windshield even though the receipts were not available.
In addition, the entire center mall from the bay to the beach was coated with an inch or two of ice during the weekend, making it for the elderly and the infirm to walk on the mall in order to get a receipt from the machines even after they thawed and were back in operation.
Several people complained of slipping on the ice and injuring themselves in an attempt to get a receipt on Friday and Saturday.
Yet Traffic Enforcement Officers went down the line of cars, ticketing those without the receipts in the windshield even though some people explained to the officer that it was difficult to get one.
A city official told The Wave on Tuesday that they were still studying the question and would notify motorists of a decision in time, suggesting that they plead not guilty to the ticket with an explanation.
One Wave staffer even got a ticket on Friday afternoon even though he had a receipt in windshield.
The editor braved the slippery median to purchase the receipt at 4:03 p.m. He placed six quarters in the machine, getting a receipt that expired at 5:43 p.m., put it in the windshield and then went to get a haircut.
When he returned to his car, however, he found a ticket that was given by Traffic Enforcement Agent A. Easton at 4:30 p.m.
He rounded up the agent, who was still on the street giving tickets and brought him back to his car.
At first, the agent said that the editor must have purchased the receipt after the ticket was given, but the receipt clearly proved that it was purchased a full half-hour prior to the ticket.
Easton then charged that the editor had taken the receipt from another motorist and then that he never saw it on the dashboard. He then drove away.
Others have charged in the past that they received similar tickets from Easton when they were parked legally on Beach 116 Street.
Officials urge anybody who believes that they got an illegal ticket during the storm period to plead not guilty and to append a statement and any proof of that statement to the returned ticket.