Tapley Avenue resident Eric Lampedecchio came to the City Council meeting Monday night with what he felt were good intentions during a global pandemic: the reduction of parking and code ordinances across the city.
“I’m not looking for a blanket of not enforcing code ordinances. I’m just looking for some relief for our residents,” said Lampedeccio. “A lot of residents are hunkered down and quarantining in their homes and as a result of this, we’re seeing a lot of folks get tickets that they might not have ever gotten before around parking and trash.”
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers wss the first to speak against Lampedecchio’s proposal.
“I’m sure this is very well intended on behalf of Mr. Lampedecchio,” said Powers. :”However, I think the city is functioning and operating the way it is now in regard to code enforcement, etc., addressing those violations and that’s because we’ve been able to have a crew out there doing that work. Our departments are out there and they’re finding violations and that’s the only way you’re ever going to correct anything. I just can’t see us not enforcing traffic violations when people are parking on crosswalks, in fire lanes, or in front of hydrants. Those must be enforced 100 percent.”
Lampedeccion wanted to defend his position immediately but Council President Patrick Keefe called on Ward 2 Councillor Ira Novoselsky for his remarks,
“I’m sure this all good intentioned,” said Novoselsky. “I can tell you that the parking enforcement has been backed off as far as permit parking in neighborhoods and they’re not tagging meters on Shirley Avenue because of the construction, But I’d hate to see them back off for [sanitary] code enforcement. We want to keep our city clean, too. I have second thoughts of trying to force this down people’s throats. I appreciate his thought but there’s a limit.”
Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto said he’s not “100 percent against not giving a ticket for an overtime parking violation, [but] safety violations for handicapped parking, hydrants) have to be enforced, and I’m definitely against any relief on code violations. We’re not going to back off on code enforcement. That’s very important.”
Councillor-at-Large Gerry Visconti who had sponsored a similar proposal at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, spoke against Lampedecchio’s request.
“We’ve just gone back to enforcing some of those restrictions now,” said Visconti. “While I appreciate the motion and feel for the residents, I think it’s time that we start to get things back to normal. I agree with my colleagues with the code enforcements as well.”
Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino said he was against the removal of code enforcement violations. “However I do think with a lot of people working from home and working remotely, I really don’t see the issue with relaxing the street sweeping violations. I know we did it at the beginning of COVID-19 in March and April, but people are still working from home. Yes, there are signs posted, but sometimes people are working from home and may not remember to remove their cars [during street sweeping.”
Serino noted that the City of Everett is not enforcing street sweeping restrictions. “And I know with the casino over there, they’ve lost millions of dollars since COVID-19 hit. I think if the City of Everett can afford it for their residents, I don’t see why we can’t afford to stop the street sweeping enforcement for the remainder of the season,”
Ward 3 Councillor Arthur Guinasso said, “I strongly oppose the idea of reducing code enforcement. There is no time where we should disrespect our laws, park where we shouldn’t park, not move our cars when we try to clean up our community. We’re all in the same boat. We all know what’s due of us. This is a trying time for our community but it’s not time to disrespect our neighbors and our community by doing any other violation of law.”
Lampedecchio offered the final word on the subject. “I am first and foremost a huge proponent of accountability especially when it comes to safety violations. What I am asking for here is the Council resume the relief that Councillor Visconti had put forth on the onset of COVID-19. As COVID-19 has ramped up again in our city, so has this enforcement. And it seems contradictory that both messages are misaligned like that.”
The City Council decided to place the matter on file.