Sanitation enforcement officers to shoot the violation

Councilman James Vacca (l) and Councilman Michael Nelson of Brooklyn announce a bill that would require Department of Sanitation enforcement agents to photograph violations, during an announcement ceremony on the steps of City Hall.

Broadening his campaign to stem the City’s raging ticket blitz, Councilman James Vacca announced the introduction of a bill that would require Department of Sanitation enforcement agents to photograph all offenses and attach the photograph to individual tickets.

Vacca joined his co-sponsors, Council members Michael Nelson and Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, on the steps of City Hall on Sunday, February 8, to announce the legislation.

“This is a matter of fairness, and this is a matter of due process,” said Vacca. “Lately, this City has gone ticket-crazy, and the onus is on average New Yorkers to prove that they’re not guilty. Challenging sanitation summonses often boils down to a matter of ‘he said, she said,’ and this bill gives homeowners a much-needed leg to stand on when they feel they’ve been ticketed unfairly.”

The bill was inspired by a stream of complaints from local residents that Sanitation Enforcement Agents, like traffic agents, are handing out costly fines for either relatively minor offenses or for conditions that do not actually amount to violations. But many homeowners say they would rather pay the fine than take a day off from work to argue the ticket.

In addition to providing a safeguard against excessive ticketing, the bill would also reduce the number of guilty property owners who clog up the city’s already overcrowded Environmental Control Board. The equipment and standards to be used under this legislation would be left up to the Department of Sanitation.

The Sanitation bill comes on the heels of two bills Vacca has introduced to rein in overzealous Traffic Enforcement Agents. Intro 886 would require agents to photograph offenses to prove that a motorist was in violation. Intro 907, known as the “Gotcha Bill,” would provide a five-minute grace period for drivers who overrun a Muni-Meter or alternate-side parking and school zones.

Vacca also voted against two bills on January 28 that would have strengthened the City’s regulations on engine idling, arguing that empowering traffic agents to dole out fines for idling would create a nightmare for parents dropping off or picking up their children from school.

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