What Should James Vacca’s Pet Peeve Committee Tackle Next?

December 2010: Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca rallies to keep parking prices low.

James Vacca is redefining the role of the City Council Transportation Committee.

If you’re concerned about issues such as the gradual collapse of the transit system, the scandalous waste of taxpayer money used to subsidize parking for billion-dollar businesses, or the shocking injustices suffered by victims of traffic violence, there isn’t much on the agenda for you. On the other hand, if you’re a car owner who’s distraught over the appearance of bike lanes, or who perceives the enforcement of parking laws as a personal affront, Vacca’s committee is at your service.

The latest indignity to garner the attention of the committee is the sticker that the Department of Sanitation attaches to the windows of cars that impede city street sweepers. While it seems like a distinctly Noo Yawk brand of poetic justice — your car trashes up the city, the city trashes up your car — according to Vacca and fellow City Council Member David Greenfield, it is insult added to injury.

“A $60 ticket or $65…is enough,” says Vacca (the fine is $45 to $65, depending on location). “The sticker is cruel, the sticker is overkill, it is unnecessary, it is excessive.”

“It’s really cruel and unusual,” agrees Greenfield, who has proposed a bill to eliminate the stickers.

Though sanitation officials say the sticker, in use since 1988, is a more effective deterrent than a fine — a point arguably bolstered by the hyperbole employed to condemn it — the safe money says the council will again bow to drivers who flout the law and order the policy altered or abandoned.

Assuming the suggestion box is open to all New Yorkers, and not just the affluent car-owning minority, what transportation-related policies do you consider “cruel and unusual”? No gripe is too trifling for Vacca’s Pet Peeve Committee.

  • kevd

    In defence of car owning whiners…..  
    The city cleans streets way too often.  It just wouldn’t be necessary if people weren’t such enormous slobs – throwing their garbage and litter everywhere.  Plenty of large, international cities get by with much less frequent street cleaning.
    Most streets that have every side cleaned twice a week could get by with once a week, and some that are cleaned daily could only be twice a week.

    It seems to partially be a WPA style employment program run through the Department of Sanitation.

    And the stickers are obnoxious.  But they come off easily with mayonaise.  Doesn’t everyone know that?  How about no stickers in return for doubling the fine?

  • What about a huge sticker on cars that have hit a pedestrian or bicyclist? 
    to be borne for one year … scarlet letter and all. 

  • EliotBK

    In the list of my favorite things about New York, those stickers rank alongside egg creams, Di Fara’s pizza, and open fire hydrants in the summer. 

    I say that as someone who has gotten one stuck to my car.

  • I once got one of those stickers and I peeled it off by hand, no water, no mayonnaise, nor any actual sense of shame or cruelty.  More like a chuckle.  What a bunch of whining b.s.

  • Larry Littlefield

    1) Vehicles registered out of state taking up scarce on-street parking.

    2) Too many placards taking up scarce parking.

    “In defence of car owning whiners…The city cleans streets way too often.”

    I forgot my other proposed use of parking permit money.  Eliminate alternate side and limit sweeping to an as-needed basis, as after the leaves fall, with posters to announce when it is coming.  And hire locals to sweep by hand in between.

  • Kvetch Greenfield

    Vacca and Greenfield should introduce legislation allowing drivers to park their cars in hydrant spaces.  I mean, how often do you actually see a “fire” on any given block?  Those spaces sit open all the time!

  • Anonymous

    Why not save stickers for those who endanger a life, like for drivers who park in a crosswalk or bike lane?

  • Car Owner

    As a car owner who parks on the street, I’m psyched about this.  If I go away on vacation for a week or so, I have two choices: pay hundreds of dollars to garage my car or leave it on the street for $65.  Seems like a deal to me.

    The only thing that gets me to move my car when I’m at work or away is the prospect of coming home and having to get that ugly sticker off.  Even with all the tricks in the book — mayonnaise, razor blades — it takes a lot of time.

    Vacca and Greenfield’s bill will have the unintended effect of making it harder for street cleaners to do their jobs since thousands of other car owners will likely make the same calculation.  Thanks for the cheap long-term parking, fellas!

  • Ian Turner

    I think doubling the fine in exchange for no stickers is a reasonable trade.

  • Barney

    Why do people have such high expectations of how Councilmember Jimmy Vacca runs the transportation committee? He was a competent Community Board district manage before being elected to the New York City Council, and he runs his committee like a community board. What’s wrong with that?

    What’s wrong with running a democratic legislative body charged with policy oversight of a city of over 8 million like a local fiefdom that is charged with protecting the social status of a few hundred thousand?

  • Anonymous

    “Why not save stickers for those who endanger a life, like for drivers who park in a crosswalk or bike lane?”

    I’ve considered making my own stickers for that and leaving them around town for people to pick up…still might do it.

  • Anonymous

    I’m pretty sure “City Council Transportation Committee” means “City Council Outer Borough Driver Advocacy Committee” in his mind.  Not “City Council Dirty Hippies on Bikes and Poors on the Bus Committee.”

  • Eric McClure

    It’s an outrage to have to walk half a block to purchase parking time at a MuniMeter, and then have to walk back to one’s car to leave the receipt on the dashboard.  The Council should pass a law requiring valet service. Think of the jobs it would create.

    As for street-sweeping, I disagree that it’s too frequent.  On our block last week, which has Monday/Tuesday alternate-side parking, almost every spot was reoccupied when the sweeper came by a full 20 minutes before the hour and a half was up, and on Tuesday, the sweeper never made it.  This week, the same thing happened on Monday, and on Tuesday, ASP was suspended for All Saints Day. Why the hell can’t the streets get swept on All Saints Day?  The street is a huge mess of candy wrappers and leaves.

  • Brooklynite

    I propose that instead of affixing a sticker, the Dept. of Sanitation plunge a pick axe through the windshield of offending vehicles. Can I get any co-sponsors?

  • vnm

    Kevd I agree that doubling the fine — and actually enforcing it regularly — is a fair trade for prohibiting the stickers.  But I disagree that street are cleaned too often.  Streets in this town can get really dirty really quickly. And it isn’t just because New Yorkers are slobs. We don’t have alleys like a lot (most?) of world cities, so every building must leave its garbage out front on the street. It’s the reason NY has a reputation as a dirty, garbage-strewn city. 

    This bill would just make streets even dirtier for everyone, for the benefit of the privileged car-owning few.  It makes me sick to see that this committee is worried about this b.s. instead of actual transportation problems.  Great post Streetsblog. 

  • da

    A lot of the garbage on my Park Slope block seems to have been driven in by car and then dumped in the street.  Lots of fast-food containers, and the nearest fast food joints are many blocks away.  I really doubt that the piles of fast food junk next to the driver’s side doors were carried in and left there by pedestrians.

  • Whiny Sloper

    I live in a nineteenth-century neighborhood and there’s not enough parking on the street.  As my neighbor Marty has said, the situation is “intolerable”.  Therefore, no safety measures should be undertaken that would remove any parking spaces.

  • Anonymous

    My favorite mode of transportation in the city is walking. When my feet get tired, I need to “gas up” and rest. I want Vacca’s committee to supply one bench for every car parking spot on each block. Yup, you might have to turn some of those parking spots into “parklets” to achieve this.

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