Alternate Side: Tickets Mandatory, Street Sweeping Only When It Isn’t Needed

The City of New York gives tickets on my block for not moving cars out of the way during alternate side parking days, to make room for the street sweeper, all year long. Those who give the tickets, and those who operate the street sweepers, are paid all year long.   And then paid for another one or more years in retirement for each year they are on the payroll. But the fact is on my residential block we don’t need the street to be swept once a week all year long. Once month, or less, would do, except at certain times when street sweeping is absolutely

As it happens the past four weeks are one of those times. The city-owned street trees are shedding their leaves, which are building up in the street. Right when we need it, however, the street sweepers are refusing to sweep the street. Not once in the last four weeks have they been swept. A neighbor saw one sweeper blow through at top speed while avoiding leaves wherever they were concentrated. This shows the extent to which government has become a racket, with the damage increased by the fact that the government refuses to admit that it is a racket, preventing people from making the required adaptations.

Why is it so important that the leaves be swept up? Because otherwise they work their way down the catch basins, which are blocked by leaves wherever I go in Brooklyn, and down into the sewers, which become blocked themselves. Flooding results. Last summer a sudden thunderstorm caused the sewers in the part of Park Slope on TOP of the hill to clog, and sewage to explode through the basement level sinks and toilets all over the area, including my Catholic parish and the home of a friend of mine. Why did basements end up full of excrement? My guess is the sewers were blocked by last year’s leaves.

This year’s leaves are threatening to do the same to the homes on my block in Windsor Terrace. I did my best to sweep up the leaves in the street in front of my house, as well as the sidewalk. But the fact is most of us are at work during alternate side, from 11:30 am to 2:00 pm on Monday and Tuesday. The street in front of my house is blocked by parked cars otherwise.

If the political/union class want to tell the serfs that it’s their responsibility to sweep the streets, it should do so, and let them know that they’ll need to use three of their scarce vacation days per year to make it happen. Or get down on their hands and knees and crawl under the cars. The damage caused by not sweeping the streets is compounded by not admitting they are not going to sweep the streets.

What is going on? My guess is this. While the street sweepers may often claim overtime to pad their pensions, the profusion of leaves in the street means that to clear them they would actually have to work those extra hours. Dumping the leaves multiple times on the way to completing their work. So they just don’t bother.

It isn’t my tendency to blast working people. So I gave them the benefit of the doubt for one week, two weeks, three weeks. Now its four weeks. I had thought perhaps they were waiting for most of the leaves to be off the trees before making a big effort. But now most of the leaves are off the trees. Moreover, I saw a comment on a blog post on WNYC indicating that the same thing is happening in other neighborhoods.

At this point it is obvious what the NYC Department of Sanitation and the politicians its union controls think of us.   Even though the DOS has far more employees, per 100,000 population, than similar agencies elsewhere, and has employees that are much better paid than similar employees in public agencies elsewhere. Even with adjustment for the higher general pay level here.

No wonder the Sanitation Workers Union fought successfully in the state legislature, over the objections of the City of New York, for the right to move out of the city and keep their city jobs. So they wouldn’t have to live with the conditions they and the other members of the political/union class intended to create here.

There is still time for the City of New York to make an announcement. “We have no intention of sweeping the streets, so you’d better take a day off and clear the leaves, or the excrement you deserve will be pouring into your house.” And tell them they are expected to shovel the streets too, as they are the city-owned sidewalks. The city could also put all the information parents need to teach their own children online, in case some of the UFT members decide to fully take advantage of their union rights and not bother. The PBA says that 2.8 times the U.S. average number of police officers relative to population is not enough for its officers to be expected to keep us safe. So perhaps we had better pay up in taxes, and then organize community patrols. Finally, people should be told to start getting around by bicycle, because they can’t depend on public mass transit.

The private sector has to con the serfs to steal their money. The government can just take it. At least fess up to the realities, and give the serfs a chance. Damnit, if the leaves in the street will not be swept, the City of New York should fess up.


  • Larry Littlefield

    The good news is there seems to be some kind of road repair, and the cars are gone. So I was able to at least sweep up the leaves near my house, and hopefully the neighbors will do the same.

    This situation, however, which gets worse every year, has convinced me that alternate side should be on Saturday and Sunday, every week from late October to late November, and once a month the rest of the year. And people should be told to sweep up themselves.