(This story has been updated as of June 6, 2023)
Finding recreational vehicles in the northwest Bronx parked overnight has become a game of whack-a-mole.
By law, trucks with 53-foot trailers are not supposed to be on residential streets, residents such as Judith Veder and Dawn Eaton ask why the city cannot get rid of them.
Last year, large vehicles called Riverdale their home. But this is not just a Riverdale or Bronx issue. The problem has become a citywide issue.
“It was ridiculous,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said.
“There were parked trailers for the longest time. Former FedEx trucks, former ambulances, Vermont plates, expired plates — none were New York.”
The problem is catching the vehicles, mainly along Henry Hudson Parkway and Douglas Avenue, and West 236th Street near Seton Park. Calling for a tow truck takes time, and by the time the truck arrives, the vehicle can be on the other side of the neighborhood.
Tickets and summons mean nothing, the Assemblyman said. There have been 325 parking summonses issued to trucks from Jan. 1 through May 15.
Writing down the license plate of a vehicle is imperative. Many vehicles have a similar style in design and body which can trick the eye into believing its the same vehicle in another location. However, according to both the Assemblyman and the 50th Precinct, they got them all.
But the complexity of finding them also goes further than that.
“Let me tell you the issue that we have,” said Capt. Filastine Srour. “We’re not allowed to call whichever (New York Police Department) tow company we want. We need to wait a few days.”
The precinct worked with a few companies in “the rotation,” she said.
“I have received a lot of complaints about mobile homes and illegal parking, and I think we did a really good job with the little manpower we have.
“We got rid of a lot of RVs, mobile homes — ambulances that were used as houses.”
Overall, from January, there have been 439 five heavy tows. Five of them were heavy-duty. When a heavy-duty car is towed, the fee is $375, while a regular tow is $185. And if the vehicle is not retrieved the same day, an overnight fee of $20 is charged.
“We only have two companies. Things take time,” Srour said.
But that didn’t stop the Assemblyman from visiting the vehicles on Henry Hudson Parkway on West 254th Street. He had a small altercation with one of the owners.
“I was taking pictures of him because — what is he going to do? I was being bold,” Dinowitz said. He asked to see my ID — I don’t need to show him my ID. I live here, and I represent this neighborhood; he acted like we didn’t belong here.
“Passing legislation isn’t only our job — we respond to complaints and get them done, but it might be slow depending on the issue.”
On March 1, the Assemblyman and Councilman Eric Dinowitz sent a letter to Jessica Tisch, the commissioner of the sanitation department, requesting the agency approve once-per-week alternate side parking along Henry Hudson Parkway East and West between 239th and West 254th streets.
Veder is not confident once-per-week will solve the problem. It would need to be every day to get rid of them for good. Because in New York City, drivers won’t receive a ticket when they sit in their car. This includes moving out of the way for the sweeper only to return five minutes later.
The sanitation department responded on April 21 to the Dinowitzes' letter and Vincent Gragnani, a spokesperson, confirmed the council member's office confirmed receipt of the letter.
“Thank you for your letter regarding implementing alternate side parking regulations along specific sections of the Henry Hudson Parkway,” Tisch responded on April 21. The sanitation department, “cleans city streets, the New York City Department of Transportation regulates parking.”
The commissioner suggests reaching out to Ydanis Rodriguez — the transportations commissioner — to address the parking problem.
She also added, the request must go through Community Board 8, as the community needs to vote if they favor the decision, in their neighborhood.
CB8 chair Laura Spalter told The Riverdale Press this specific issue will not be brought up at the environmental and sanitation committee meeting, in June.
“I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that the streets and sidewalks, in your district and throughout the city , are kept clean for our residents and visitors,” Tisch stated.
The Assemblyman knows that residents won’t be happy to move their car. However, it can only increase the quality of life since the overnight vehicles are taking advantage of Riverdale-area parking.
“The Department of Sanitation has made the cleanliness of our streets a priority and is cracking down hard on both of these thefts of public space,” said Joshua Goodman, the agency’s deputy commissioner, public affairs and customer experience.
At the same time, it is still a mystery where the owners dispose of their waste. By law, they are required to take their waste with them to an RV park where they can easily dispose of it.
Goodman said if the vehicle owner leaves garbage on the side of the road, it is considered illegal dumping. This means both a $4,000 fine and impounding the offending vehicle.
This is not the Assemblyman’s first attempt to change alternate side parking. Almost 18 years ago, he requested the sanitation department suspend or limit alternate side parking to one day per week throughout his district.
“The lack of parking is one of the most pressing problems in my district,” he said back then. “Alternate side parking in every area of the community is not necessary, particularly in neighborhoods with single-family dwellings and neighborhoods that stay relatively clean.”