Federal prosecutors say city and NYPD have duty to keep NYC sidewalks clear for pedestrians

Federal prosecutors say city and NYPD have duty to keep NYC sidewalks clear for pedestrians

The NYPD and different city companies should implement parking legal guidelines and keep sidewalks clear of obstructions or threat violating federal legislation, federal prosecutors wrote this week in an ongoing swimsuit introduced by disabled residents of a Bronx neighborhood.

The “statement of interest” filed by prosecutors within the Southern District of New York may have broad implications for the NYPD’s much-criticized strategy to parking enforcement.

Prosecutors wrote that the People with Disabilities Act has clearly established that “ensuring access to public transportation and public rights of way” is a precept focus of the legislation.

“Providing and maintaining a network of walkways for pedestrians to get around town is a quintessential government service,” Assistant U.S. Legal professional Zachary Bannon wrote within the 25-page memo filed Wednesday in Manhattan Federal Courtroom.

The submitting, first reported by the transportation information website Streetsblog, got here in a swimsuit introduced by the advocacy group Incapacity Rights New York and two Bronx residents — a lady with impaired imaginative and prescient and a person with cerebral palsy who makes use of a wheelchair. They allege that the city hasn’t addressed widespread parking violations in an jap part of the Mount Eden neighborhood close to the BronxCare Well being Providers Hospital regardless of repeated complaints.

The pedestrian pathways are “regularly blocked by both ambulances and other emergency vehicles, which are often forced to park in bus lanes when drivers park their nonemergency vehicles in ambulance lanes. Emergency and non-emergency vehicles alike park in crosswalks and other areas that make pedestrian pathways inaccessible,” the prosecutor wrote, summing up the allegations.

Christina Asbee, a lawyer for Incapacity Rights New York, stated the submitting by prosecutors despatched an necessary message to the city.

“We want the city to recognize that this may be a problem elsewhere and to resolve the problem by not allowing cars to park on sidewalks or in crosswalks,” Asbee stated.

The NYPD has lengthy confronted criticism for ignoring parking violations and flouting visitors legal guidelines. After the city introduced a crackdown on obscured license plates, Gothamist witnessed a state trooper declining to concern a violation to a van with an obscured plate. The van had an NYPD placard on the sprint. Parking violations by cops are so commonplace that Streetsblog has an annual March (Parking) Insanity contest that determines which police precinct stationhouse is “the worst neighbor.”

“As we know, NYPD generally refuses to act against placard abuse because its members are among the prime malefactors, and they view impunity from parking regulations as a perk of employment,” stated lawyer Steve Vaccaro, who makes a speciality of representing cyclists, pedestrians, and different crash victims. “They extend the same ‘courtesy’ to other government employees, or even those simply posing as government employees or other ‘essential workers,’ on an unclear rationale.”

The parking violations in Mount Eden obtained worse within the early days of the pandemic, when the city issued on-street parking permits for well being care staff, the swimsuit alleges. The disabled residents who introduced the swimsuit say they’ve met with the NYPD, different companies and an elected official and filed 311 complaints however nothing has been achieved.

Legal professionals for the city have argued that most of the allegations needs to be tossed out of court docket as a result of they had been already introduced in a earlier lawsuit, which was settled.

“The city is committed to upholding the ADA and improving sidewalk access for all New Yorkers, but the legal claims in this suit lack merit. The city will review any submissions SDNY makes in this case and respond accordingly,” the Legislation Division stated in an announcement.

A NYPD visitors sergeant within the forty fourth Precinct masking Mount Eden additionally filed a sworn declaration opposing a request for a court docket order that police tow autos obstructing pedestrian pathways. The sergeant cited latest shootings within the neighborhood, however didn’t instantly clarify how the gunplay associated to visitors enforcement. He famous that between July 2020 and June of this yr, the precinct issued 6,085 parking violations and towed 484 autos close to the realm that’s the topic of the swimsuit. Earlier than the swimsuit was filed, cops on the precinct had inspired Incapacity Rights New York to name concerning any accessibility considerations.

However Bannon, the prosecutor, writes that if a trial establishes the allegations are correct, then the city is probably going in violation of the People with Disabilities Act.

“The city cannot characterize vehicles blocking intersections, garbage cans on sidewalks, or curb cuts in disrepair as ‘temporary or isolated’ issues,” Bannon wrote. “This is particularly the case if, as plaintiffs allege, the city repeatedly fails to enforce accessibility requirements.”

With reporting by Stephen Nessen.

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