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City Council Bans Alternate Side Parking Shame Stickers

By Jill Colvin | January 18, 2012 5:00pm
The City Council has voted to ban the Department of Sanitation from affixing parking violation stickers to cars.
The City Council has voted to ban the Department of Sanitation from affixing parking violation stickers to cars.
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DNAinfo/Jill Colvin

CITY HALL— They’re sticky. They’re impossible to remove. And they’re soon to be history.

The City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to ban the so-called “shame stickers” the Department of Sanitation slaps on the windows of cars that violate alternate side parking rules, as part of a package of bills intended to ease the pain of parking in the city.

While Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the stickers, arguing they serve as an added deterrent against rule-breaking, supporters argued the unsightly signs do nothing but embarrass drivers and make a mess. The stickers are notoriously difficult to remove, often leaving a coating of stubborn adhesive on windows that requires multiple tools to clean.

“You have to chisel it off of the side of the car,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who said that when she was slapped with a “nasty” sticker years ago “it was a multi-day effort” to get it off.

“What’s more, it’s extremely embarrassing to walk out to your car and find this huge… sticker on the side of your car,” she added. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

The fluorescent stickers, which have been a city fixture since 1988, read, “This vehicle violates New York City Traffic Rules. As a result, this street could not be properly cleaned. A cleaner New York is up to you.” Approximately 80,000 cars are stickered by the city each year, bill sponsor Davis Greenfield said.

Mark LaVorgna, a spokesman for the mayor, said Bloomberg was still reviewing the legislation as of Thursday afternoon and had not yet decided whether to sign the bill. Quinn said she has enough council support to over-ride a veto threat.

The council also passed new legislation, proposed by Quinn during her State of the City address last year, designed to prevent drivers from getting parking tickets while they’re in the process of paying at muni-meters.

Under the new rules, traffic enforcement cops will be required to cancel tickets on the spot if a driver presents them with a receipt time-stamped no later than five minutes after the ticket was issued. Today, traffic cops aren't allowed to cancel tickets for any reason, forcing drivers to dispute them at a later date.

While proponents, including Quinn, hailed the ruling, the administration slammed the bill, saying it leaves the door open to fraud. They say crafty drivers will be able to cheat the system by parking for free until they get a ticket, at which point they can quickly buy time and presenting a receipt to cops.

They also worry the legislation will open the door to disputes with drivers.

“It increases the likelihood of on-street confrontations with Traffic Agents and creates a system that is ripe for abuse,” LaVorgna said.

Quinn said the council, which passed the bill 46-to-1, will override the mayor's veto, just as it did when Bloomberg opposed granting drivers a five-minute grace period to move their cars for alternate-side parking rules.

The council also passed new legislation, supported by the mayor, that will prevent the city from charging drivers late fees on parking tickets until 30 days after a ruling is made.

The way the law currently works, drivers begin to accrue fees 30 days after a ticket is written, regardless of whether they’re fighting the ticket in court.

The city makes about $600 million from parking tickets a year.