Under Proposal, New Yorkers Could Earn Cash For Reporting Idling Cars

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Activists gathered at City Hall on Tuesday morning in support of a new proposal to put citizens on patrol to crack down on idling cars in New York City.

Councilman Donovan Richards is introducing the bill with Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal. Under the new legislation, New Yorkers could earn a cash reward for reporting drivers who leave their engines running.

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“If you see something, you say something, but you get paid for doing it,” Richards told CBS2’s Diane Macedo.

Richards and Rosenthal say too many drivers are ignoring the the city law on idling.

“You can’t idle for more than three minutes. At that point, it becomes a violation,” Rosenthal said. “Outside of a school, it’s one minute.”

Richards and Rosenthal said the problem is too widespread for the NYPD and the Department of Environmental Protection to catch every violator.

“Unfortunately, DEP does not have enough enforcement agents,” Richards said. “They have 40 enforcement agents for a city of nearly 8 million people.”

Instead, they are proposing a new program for citizens to step in.

“They can videotape a violation, upload it onto the DEP website, and then DEP can go forward and issue violations as appropriate,” Rosenthal said.

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The program would require at least three minutes of video. People would also need to attend a special training session before participating.

As for those idling, an initial offense results in a warning followed by a summons with a $350 fine, up from $220. The person reporting the violator could earn up to 50 percent of that money once the city collects.

The bill would also up the fines for repeat offenders.

“It goes up now $1,500, where before it went up to $1,000,” Rosenthal said.

Many New Yorkers had mixed reactions about the proposal.

“I probably wouldn’t do it, but it is for the greater good so if it helps stop idling, I think that’s a good thing,” said downtown Manhattan resident Alan Stapler.

“It’s helpful to the city, good air quality,” said Staten Island resident Justin Yu. “I have allergies so I think it’s helpful to that, too.”

“To get a random ticket in the mail, not realizing that I’m idling for more than three minutes, that would be horrible,” said Brooklyn resident Maria Ramroop. “And then you’re going to make money on me — not cool.”

“I mean, that person sending it in, they’re not a law enforcement officer,” he told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman. “They’re going to be picking and choosing who they’re deciding to highlight.”

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The bill will be introduced to the City Council on Wednesday. If approved, the program could be in place by the end of the year.