Mayor Bloomberg is defending the city's decision not to suspend parking restrictions during this week's snowstorm amid complaints from New Yorkers whose cars are getting tickets while encased in ice.
Mr. Bloomberg dismissed the complaints yesterday, saying that while it might be annoying, moving cars to alternate sides of the street is allowing the city to clear the roadways more quickly and get life back to normal.
"This, in all fairness, was not more than a few inches of snow in most places, so it wasn't like you had a couple of feet of snow where you physically couldn't move your car," Mr. Bloomberg said while visiting Sanitation Department crews in Queens who were working overtime to deal with the snow and ice. "You had to put on galoshes and get out there and move it."
"I don't like to get up early in the morning either. I'd like to sleep in, too," he said. "But it was the right thing to do."
The decision to make New Yorkers move their cars in a mess of slush, ice, and snow is not, however, sitting well with those who have to dig out and deal with finding spaces to deposit their cars.
A retired postal worker in Bay Ridge, John McGuire, 81, said that while he moved his 1991 Chevy Corsica after the initial storm, his car is now "in a block of ice" and can't be moved. He is expecting to be ticketed Friday.
"He's decided that I'm lazy because I can't get my car out," Mr. McGuire said. "He should remember what happened to Lindsay."
Mr. McGuire — who told The New York Sun that he has chronic pulmonary problems and that shoveling snow could prompt a heart attack — was referring to an oft-cited political blunder of 1969, when Mayor Lindsay nearly lost his re-election after botching snow removal following a major storm.
Several City Council members sent out statements via e-mail yesterday, citing the frigid temperatures and saying it is unreasonable to penalize people whose cars are stuck. Some called for the tickets that have already been issued to be revoked.
"The senseless decision not to suspend alternate side parking when cars are covered with snow from the city plows is just another example of the Manhattan-centric method of management of this administration," Council Member Vincent Gentile, a Democrat who represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and other parts of Brooklyn.
Mr. Bloomberg touted the job that Sanitation workers have been doing. The mayor, who has stuck by unpopular positions in the past, said all roads have been paved at least once and that the city has already sprayed the streets with 50,000 tons of salt. He also noted that streets need to be clear to get emergency vehicles through.
When asked about elected officials who have been fielding complaints, Mr. Bloomberg was not sympathetic. "You just have those guys call me and I'll be happy to explain to them what we've done," he said.
Meanwhile, the number of calls to the city's 311 hotline — 165,202 — was more than four times higher than average. During a snowstorm last February, the city received 137,000 calls. City officials said more than 70% of callers to 311 during this week's storm hung up after the pre-recorded greeting, which includes information about parking rules. Of those who stayed on the line, 5,913 asked about parking, 7,560 about school closing and delays, and 2,651 about ice and snow removals. The number of complaints filed was not available.
"With just a few inches falling, the decision was made not to suspend asp so that the streets could be fully plowed and more easily cleaned," the commissioner for the Department of Transportation, Iris Weinshall, said in a statement.
Mr. Bloomberg said: "If you want dirty streets that aren't plowed you won't have those problems, but that's the trade-off."
Correction from February 20, 2007:
Plowed at least once is what the mayor said had been done to all streets. An article on page 1 of the February 16-18 New York Sun misstated the mayor's comment.