NEW YORK (AP) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized on Friday to drivers all over the city who were outraged that parking rules were upheld during this week’s winter storm, resulting in thousands of tickets on stuck cars.

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience to people,” he said, “but you’ve got to make decisions and try things and each storm is different.” Bloomberg added that the tickets would be thrown out.

A day earlier, Bloomberg had dismissed drivers’ complaints as mere laziness.

“This was not a lot of snow. It was easy to move your car,” he told reporters on Thursday. “I don’t like to get up early in the morning and have to do anything either – I’d like to sleep in, too.”

During snowstorms, the city often suspends what are known as alternate side of the street parking regulations. The rules dictate on which side of the street drivers can park at certain times during the day, a schedule that allows cleaning vehicles to sweep along the curbs.

The rules were not suspended for Wednesday’s storm. Although just a few inches fell, the combination of sleet, snow and ice formed rigid crusts around curbs and vehicles in some parts of the city, and many motorists could not chip it away to get their cars out.

Mayors are ever mindful of snow removal politics.

A 1969 storm resulted in a 15-inch snowfall and a ton of fallout. Some streets in the outer boroughs were clogged for days – a symbol, some said, of Mayor John Lindsay’s Manhattan-centric attitude and disregard for certain neighborhoods. Lindsay barely won re-election that year.

Bloomberg usually gets good marks for clearing the streets. As snow rolls in, thousands of sanitation employees are put on overtime, salt trucks are dispatched, extra shovelers are hired.

But this storm was sneaky, catching the city off guard with the ice and freezing rain.

“It did make it especially challenging,” the mayor said Thursday.

Friday’s newspapers took up the cause: with a front page headline of “Give Us A Break,” the Daily News called for citywide ticket dismissal. And the New York Sun reminded Bloomberg about the unfortunate tale that followed Lindsay for years.

A contrite-sounding Bloomberg began his weekly radio show Friday with the apology and an announcement that the 4,000 tickets given out on Thursday would be dismissed. The parking rules were suspended for Friday, and if anyone received a ticket in error, it would also be waived, he said.

“In retrospect, in some parts of the city there was not that much snow, and in other parts there probably really was an imposition,” Bloomberg said.

For most Manhattan neighborhoods, the violation costs $65, and throughout the rest of the city, it is a $45 penalty.

Tara Seawright, whose white Jeep was lodged in the ice and snow on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, was relieved to learn that she could ignore the ticket she received Thursday.

“That’s really nice, it’s fair,” she said. “It’s great that he’s excusing all the tickets.”


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