In the city’s red zone, where COVID-19 cases remain stubbornly high, residents still have to go outside to move their cars to make way for street-sweeping.
That’s angered residents and local politicians who contend unnecessary additional danger and strain are being placed on people in the swath of Brooklyn where schools and non-essential businesses have been ordered closed.
“The mayor is so out of touch with what daily life is like in the red zone,” charged City Councilmember Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn), whose district includes sections of the restricted area. “Leaving alternate side parking in effect is like stomping on the backs of people who are already near breakdown.”
Deutsch said he knows parents who have “schlepped four or five children” into the backseat of their car, each taking a different Zoom class, to avoid getting a ticket.
“It’s insanity,” he said.
One of his constituents tried to fight a $65 parking ticket he got for failing to move his car, records show. The man, who asked to remain anonymous, argued that the city suspended alternate side parking rules for most of March, April, May and June, when restrictions similar to those in the red zone were in place citywide.
But a city administrative law judge rejected that appeal.
“This is not a valid legal defense,” the judge ruled. “It is a violation for a vehicle to be parked in a No Parking Street Cleaning zone while the regulation is in effect. City records indicate that alternate side parking rules were in effect on this date. Summons sustained.”
The motorist, who shared the judge’s decision with THE CITY, is not alone in his plight.
NYPD traffic enforcement agents issued 1,347 parking tickets in the 66th Precinct’s coverage area, which is largely in the red zone, from Oct. 8 to Oct. 22, according to latest records posted on the city’s OpenData website.
That’s more than the 1,268 tickets handed out during the same span in 2019.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Yossi Eliav, 22, as he moved his sedan Wednesday morning in Kensington.
“They want businesses to be closed,” he said. “They want you to stay home as much as possible. How am I supposed to do that when I need to leave my house for parking?”
Eliav said he knows people who fled the neighborhood to avoid the virus spike “but they had nowhere to leave their car,” he said.
When the first wave of COVD-19 hit New York, de Blasio initially resisted calls to cancel alternate side parking. The city ultimately suspended the requirement on March 18.
At the end of June, the mayor moved to have the city’s Department of Sanitation clean streets once a week instead of twice in some spots.
“We have to change the status quo,” he told reporters at the time. “Alternate side parking has been done the same way for a long, long time.”
He described the policy of cleaning twice a week in certain areas as a “super hassle.”
But the city has no immediate intention to ease the rules in the red zone, according to de Blasio spokesperson Mitch Schwartz.
“No news to share on this today,” he said Wednesday.
The COVID-19 red zones took shape on Oct. 6, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a limited shutdown plan for virus hotspots and released a color-coded map to detail the areas in Brooklyn, Queens, and in Broome, Orange and Rockland Counties.
Last week, Cuomo adjusted the map, easing restrictions in two areas in Queens and keeping them in several Brooklyn neighborhoods, including much of Borough Park, Midwood and Gravesend. The map will be updated every 10 days, according to the governor.