The City Council recently passed a package of bills that will help to address the quality of life issues plaguing southeast Queens, toughening current civil penalties and criminal fines for unlawful commercial dumping.
Community Board 13 District Manager Mark McMillan hopes that with the new legislation and enforcement, truck drivers will be less inclined to park in the area.
“This is such an abuse that we’ve been going through for many years,” added Councilwoman Adrienne Adams. “These constituents in southeast Queens have been victimized year after year with illegal dumping, a lot of it contributed by the 18-wheelers. They’re piled up on a daily basis.”
It's an issue across the borough, with neighborhoods like Kew Gardens, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill dealing with large trucks taking up valuable parking spots.
But it’s Southeast Queens neighborhoods, according to Adams, that have been most affected by the illegal commercial parking and dumping. The trucks line up near parks, playgrounds, schools, homes and Montefiore Cemetery.
The parked trucks also cause other issues, including blocked fire hydrants and air pollution.
“The emission from all of the idling trucks and other sources make this the borough’s hotspots for asthma and other respiratory illnesses,” said Councilman Costa Constantinides. “Going after the illegal dumpers and the illegal trucks will improve the quality of life and make our neighborhoods safer and better for everyone.”
Leroy Gadsden, president of the Jamaica branch of the NAACP, said the right to live in a safe and healthy environment is a civil rights issue.
“When I go to other neighborhoods like Floral Park, Bellerose and Glen Oaks, I don’t see these trucks,” Gadsden said. “Only in my neighborhood do I see that.
“These trucks can hold up to 100 cubic feet of waste each,” he added. “These trucks our turning our neighborhoods into temporary waste disposal sites on every block.”
“It’s difficult to walk along Springfield Boulevard because it becomes a public safety hazard,” added Councilman I. Daneek Miller.
Miller has introduced legislation that would increase fines and shorten the time that a commercial truck can legally park in the area.
Currently, trucks can be fined $250 for illegally parking, but for many companies, simply taking the ticket would still be cheaper than renting a parking space.
Miller’s legislation would up the fine from $250 to $400, and would increase to $500 to $800 for subsequent violations within a six-month period.
And while trucks are allowed to park for a three-hour period now, the legislation reduces the time to 90 minutes.
The elected officials called out the NYPD for their lack of enforcement, and Adams also criticized the Department of Transportation for “giving commercial trucks permission to park because it may too much of a heavy lift to get them to move.”
“Protecting our communities isn’t a spectator sport, we need everyone to get involved,” Miller said.