City Council Members: Down With Parking Enforcement

council_members_rip.jpgCouncilmen Weprin, Felder, and Gentile protest the injustice of enforcing the law. Photo: Daily Politics

Sick of walking around cars parked on the sidewalk? Fed up with the excessive traffic cruising for parking spots in your neighborhood? Tough luck. A gaggle of City Council members has got nothing for you, but they do want to ease up on the car owners who contribute to these problems.

A new bill has surfaced that would tack on a five-minute "grace period" to time restrictions on parking spots. It would codify the contention of a certain class of New Yorkers who believe the law doesn’t really apply to drivers.

The anti-enforcement contingent behind the bill includes Vincent Gentile and Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, David Weprin of Queens, and James Vacca of the Bronx. Who are the people these elected representatives are sticking up for? The Daily News, in a story that openly cheers for the new bill to take effect, tells us about one driver who would love some extra time to drop off her pet for a doggie manicure:

Meryl Blackman,
57, a Realtor in Brooklyn Heights, says she needs even more time to
unload her dog. She admits leaving her SUV in no-parking zones to deal
with the pooch.

"A five-minute grace period is great, but we
need more time," she said. "Ten to 15 would be fabulous. It would make
the quality of life so much better."

Give ’em five minutes, they’ll take an hour. I can already hear the whining about getting a ticket just after the "grace period" expires.

According to the Times, Council Speaker Christine Quinn has not taken a position on the bill, nor has transportation committee chair John Liu, whose support for other bills that let drivers off the hook has apparently given the lax enforcement movement some momentum.

Parking violators have something of a champion in Gentile, who wants to see enforcement relaxed all over his borough:

"We’re under siege," he said. "It’s high time for this mayor, who wants
to get reelected, to … step in and say cut it out, enforce the law in
a reasonable manner."

Gentile may be getting a few calls from constituents (like the fellow who demands the untrammeled right to block the sidewalk because he has a curb-cutting driveway), but his so-called "slew" of ticketing is a mirage. Another story in today’s Daily News reveals that parking tickets declined city-wide by a full 11.5 percent last year.

I don’t usually get into New Year’s resolutions, but there’s one I’m considering for 2009. Every time I see someone double-park, overstay the allotted time at a meter, run a red light, pull an illegal U-turn, or speed like a maniac down the street where I live — and not get a ticket — I’m going to call my Council member.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If I’m not mistaken, these are three members of the policial class which have imposed on New York City residents what would be the highest state and local tax burden as a share of their personal income if the city were its own state in FY 2006, all while mortgaging the future and setting public services and benefits up for collapse, while handing out all kinds of privilege and benefits for the limited number of people they are prepared to consider as such.

    Presumably also among the people who matter are those who register their insurance out of state to avoid paying the costs inflated here by the lawsuits of other people who matter.

    Not to those under 30 and/or thinking of starting a business — the more you contribute in New York, the more people like them suck out, and you can never get ahead.

  • I don’t usually get into New Year’s resolutions, but there’s one I’m considering for 2009. Every time I see someone double-park, overstay the allotted time at a meter, run a red light, pull an illegal U-turn, or speed like a maniac down the street where I live — and not get a ticket — I’m going to call my Council member.

    You are going to run up quite a phone bill.

  • Bike Dude

    Where’s the lax enforcement for cyclists who ride on the sidewalk to get to the Williamsburg Bridge? Or for bicycles chained up to NYC property?

  • I’m confused. If the issue is that people want more time, why is the law not being amended to change all time limits? 1 hour parking = 65 minute parking. No parking = 5 minute parking. Since parking is undervalued at current meter rates, giving everyone 5 more minutes will undervalue it some more, but at least won’t require enforcement agents to check every space every 5 minutes.

  • Streetsman

    Seriously, as long as we’re de-criminalizing annoying traffic regulations, lets amend the laws so cyclists only have to STOP at red lights and YIELD at stop signs like they have in Idaho

    http://www.oregoncycling.org/2008/12/are-we-ready-for-an-idaho-style-bicycle-yield-law/

  • Rhywun

    > I’m confused. If the issue is that people want more time,
    > why is the law not being amended to change all time limits?

    Because that would be *too* clear an expression of our leaders’ pandering.

  • Rhywun

    > lets amend the laws so cyclists only have to STOP at
    > red lights and YIELD at stop signs like they have in Idaho

    Uh huh. And 99 percent of bicyclists will ignore that law too.

  • Patsfan630

    I think people who park in places that they are not allowed to park should be ticketed the second a cop sees them. Not 3 minutes, not 5 minutes – immediately. No grace period. Same with people who “block the box” or who run red lights – ticket them all. And make tickets much more expensive. Parking in a no parking zone? $200. Blocking the box? $350. Maybe then people will pay attention to what they’re doing and be more responsible on the road.

  • So, car owners are above the law? I don’t own a car. If I complain to my city councilperson about MTA fares, will they propose a bill to allow leniency on turnstile jumping? It’s only fair!

  • D’oh. Just noticed that someone said virtually the same thing earlier today in the headlines post. So much for originality!

  • This is a foolish stunt and I expect the politicians that are proudly waving their credentials of law-breaking—of a kind that causes congestion forces other people into danger—will be properly rewarded for it. They’ve got some gall to highlight as unwarranted a ticket where the car was parked on the sidewalk, but whose owner “insists it wasn’t blocking the way.” I’ve shared a block with one of these types, blocking more than half the sidewalk but with room to squeeze by—if you are skinny and no one is coming the other way. Yeah, sure, I didn’t need the other half of our narrow sidewalk, and I love marching out of my way so that someone else can plop a car for free. Good luck with this whole proudly being terrible neighbors thing.

    And lo, it was merely a year ago that drivers inc. were championing $1000 parking tickets and stricter enforcement (“of existing laws” was the refrain?) as a solution to congestion. The were full of it, but I would not like to see how much worse our streets function with a blanket authorization to stop for five minutes wherever you dang well please, to drop your animal off for grooming. For serious, Lew? Or is this a ruse to distract Streetsbloggers while you try to undermine the real congestion relief that we in Brooklyn have coming our way in the form of bridge tolls?

  • fdr

    Of course this proposal is ridiculous but again it shows that these elected officials think this is what their constituents want. And if it helps them get re-elected, that’s what they’ll do.

  • “For serious, Lew?”

    Oops I mistook Felder for Fidler; unfortunately they agree on bridge tolls. At least, as far as anyone can tell from the clownish quips NYC pols offered as responses to Ravitch’s plan to relieve the MTA of otherwise unavoidable service cuts and systematic deterioration.

  • Obviously this is a brilliant pander. It’ll never happen so there’s no need to have any kind of serious discussion and everyone hates parking tickets and TEAs. It would be nice to have a serious conversation about parking but you’re not going to get it from these clowns.

    I’d be willing to make a deal. I’ll give them the grace period if they agree to double all parking fines in the city. Five minutes extra is free, but that sixth one is gonna cost you.

  • Ray

    Four clowns. Just adjust meters to give 65 minutes for every 60 minutes purchased. That’d be easy.

    But I don’t think they’d take it. I believe they want their boroughs declared suburbs.

    Let’s let them have their wish. Let’s rip out the parking meters in the Bronx and Brooklyn. And reposition the police from their streets for more productive use here in Manhattan.

    In exchange for granting their wish let’s set up ZONE pricing for the subway and bus system – and congestion pricing.

    Happy Now?

  • Ray, don’t drag the Bronx in to this. We don’t even drive up here for the most part.

  • This is crazy. Ticket Agents are supposed to stand around for 5 minutes and do nothing during this grace period. Are they supposed to negotiate with drivers. That is why we have hearing officers!

  • You know what? Someone ought to park their car right in front of these council members driveways, for just 5 min, then drive off. Only to be replaced by someone else for another 5 minutes.
    that might show these nimrods that laws ought to be enforced for a reason, and letting people disregard the law, if for even a few minutes, leads to a fundamental breakdown in the application of the law. Which leads to chaos.
    -j

  • You have very good intentions here, but i can’t stand reading another biased article that takes little pieces of information, misinterprets it, and adds in anger and rage, you are giving your own community a bad name, and you are attracting the attention of the worst of both avid bikers and conservative pricks as well.

    I assume the time extension will not connect to no parking anytime no standing anytime, and parking on sidewalks, and double parkers, they will get tickets immediately… well i mean, they should.

    also with the city in dire need of income, when they hired like 30k more traffic/ticket agents, and with a mayor who is pro bike, pro congestion pricing. there is no way he will bend and give a longer grace period. i thought in the times it was mentioned that the city is now making a lot more perhaps double what it was making 6 years ago, in parking tickets. whatever. i give up. i am no longer reading your opinionated garbage, thinly veiled as news.

  • zach

    Noah- this is a blog. No one promised it wouldn’t have any opinion. If you want to make a blog for New York drivers and argue that double parking and sidewalk parking should be legal, go right ahead. Just don’t complain when traffic is gridlocked at rush hour because the streets are full of double parkers and pedestrians who can’t use blocked sidewalks.

  • Chris

    I just had a moment of clarity.

    Blogs inflate articles to be something they are not. In this case, Streetsblog is taking this article and the City Council members who are in it to be supportive of car rights, to the detriment of other forms of transportation.

    That is not the case.

    This article is a response to the Traffic Police who are very aggressive when it comes to writing tickets. And it really isn’t the people itself, its the agency and the drive (no pun intended) for revenue.

    This blog is becoming a bit facist (defined as making things conform to a singular world view) and rather shrill. I understand the need for content, but this isn’t creating an intelligent dialogue.

    Sorta done with Streetsblog.

    Signed,
    A daily NYC bike-commuter

  • This article is a response to the Traffic Police who are very aggressive when it comes to writing tickets.

    Meanwhile, the facts are that ticketing is down. You’d prefer that the traffic police weren’t aggressive?

    <blockquote.This blog is becoming a bit facist (defined as making things conform to a singular world view)
    That’s a very broad definition of “fascist.” Fascism is making everyone conform to a singular worldview. Streetsblog is expressing its own, fairly consistent, worldview, not imposing it on anyone else.

    Nowhere near done with Streetsblog,

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I would not like to see how much worse our streets function with a blanket authorization to stop for five minutes wherever you dang well please.”

    Actually, if it were possible to block moving lanes, and if the City Council rather than Bloomberg and the Police would be blamed for what ensued, I think I might like to see that.

  • Chris

    @ Angus GSMITH – “That’s a very broad definition of “fascist.” Fascism is making everyone conform to a singular worldview. Streetsblog is expressing its own, fairly consistent, worldview, not imposing it on anyone else.

    Fair enough, but when the filter doesn’t engage the real issues, then it becomes worrisome.

  • Kaja

    Chris,

    Word. They’re definitely a one-note bunch. But that’s also the _point_ of a blog. I come to Streetsblog for my political-bicyclist’s view of the day’s events.

    Anyway, I’m not about to believe exactly what Streetsblog tells me to. I clicked and read, like you did.

    But I guess I also RSS up Streetsblog ’cause I sense they agree (and are trying to say) that this here parking kvetching is a symptom like sneers at street diets are a symptom, of a cultural sickness (or sadness at any rate), that we maybe stand a shot at curing via nudges to friends, demonstration to citizens, and proper American politics.

    So it ain’t always literature you’d want to link to all your friends. They’re moderate-output vertical-interest bloggers; some of it will be shrill. It’s not like they’re /actual fascists/.

  • Jaywalker

    You know what, maybe I’m OK w/ a five-minute grace period, provided fines are DOUBLED!

    Message would be: “We gave you an inch, you took a mile. Now pay up and STFU!”

  • Isaac

    Go ahead, Ben. I agree with everything here. Why is there some notion that drivers deserve extraodrinary protection or relaxed law enforcement when our entire society is constructed to beneift their cars?

  • Max Rockatansky

    What’s unreasonable about getting a ticket on an expired meter? You put in your money, you know how long you’ve got to park, you go over the time and you pay. It doesn’t get much simpler.

  • NattyB

    @ Chris,

    I’m calling BS. No “daily NYC bike-commuter” could possibly say that the “[t]raffic Police . . . are very aggressive when it comes to writing tickets.”

    What about all the cars and taxis double parking in bike lanes?

    What about all the livery trucks clogging up bus lanes, which also make for good bike lanes?

    I saw about 7 towncars illegally parked in front of Goldman Sachs office yesterday, in the no standing zone, while 2 police officers, who are there as part of general extra security in the FinDist, just stood there.

    And open a GRE prep book and/or a history book or something. If you want to call someone out for being “narrow-minded,” then say, “man, streetsblog is becoming real narrow-minded.” But Facist, really?

  • Staten Islander

    I drive a car and think that the ‘grace period’ is a bad idea. The meter time periods are noted on the meter, but in small type. A grace period will only lead to more confusion.

    I think the real issue is that the meter times were recently shortened and more motorists are getting ticketed because many of the parking signs no longer include the meter time period like they once did. For example on New Dorp Lane the meter periods were shortened from 30 to 20 minutes. But the signs just say “2 Hour Parking 9am to 5pm” with no mention that it’s now 25 cents for 20 minutes, so people get caught because they are used to the longer time period.

    It’s also hurting businesses on the Lane because shoppers are getting tired of paying more to park when you can drive to any shopping center or the S.I. mall and park for free. I park a block or two away where there are no meters and walk to the Lane. But not everyone can do that especially drivers with small kids or older drivers.

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