Today’s news:

Baysiders hail removal of street cleaning signs from Bell Blvd.

Bayside officials said they were relieved the city removed the street cleaning signs along Bell Boulevard that had enraged area residents because the city had not swept Bell Boulevard for at least a decade but had continued to ticket drivers who parked in the areas the city said were designated for cleaning.

“Thousands of my constituents have been ticketed by the city for a service they aren’t even getting,” City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) said. “The outer boroughs regularly get ignored by the inner borough. And my district, especially, seems to get the shaft from our city government.”

Halloran said that for at least 10 years residents have received tickets during supposed street cleaning periods from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. on most weekdays. Community Board 11 is one of two boards in the city that does not have a designated street sweeper from the city because officials said it scored too high on cleanliness to receive one.

The city’s decision to get rid of the signs last week comes after a particularly contentious meeting with Council legislators and the city Department of Transportation in mid-November, during which Halloran blasted city officials for what he said was an egregious disregard for people who live and work in Bayside.

“Bell Boulevard is one of the commercial centers of northeast Queens,” Halloran said. “Its restaurants and shops are the backbone of Bayside. Excessive ticketing along Bell is killing these local businesses, which are our primary job creators.”

Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece also said he was pleased the city had started paying attention to residents’ concerns about ticketing on Bell.

“I’ve been crying out about this for at least a decade,” Iannece said. “We’re an affluent area. The ticket takers, the meter maids go out there and ticket our residents into oblivion. They know we can afford to pay it. That’s why they do it.”

This change makes a big difference in being able to attract shoppers to Bell, which is lined with independently owned stores, residents said.

“I park on Bell all the time so I can meet friends at the bakery or to get a bagel in the morning, and I’ve definitely gotten hit with tickets,” said Esther Jian of Bayside. “I’ve probably paid a couple hundred dollars because I’ve forgotten about the street sweepers. I kept coming, but I can imagine plenty of people got a ticket and just didn’t want to come back. All of this because of imaginary street sweepers, how ludicrous.”

Halloran has called on the city Department of Finance to dismiss any outstanding tickets for no parking violations due to the non-existent street cleaning on Bell.

“I won’t stand for my constituents getting pushed around by city government,” he said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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