City Council Hard at Work on Pro-Parking Bills

14_Baez_Maria.jpgMaria Baez wants all teachers to hit the road.

Transit-riding New Yorkers, take heart. In these tough times, your City Council members are at this moment pushing a slew of bills that will make your lives easier. All you have to do is trade your MetroCard for a set of car keys.

In December and January, reports Gotham Gazette, no fewer than four bills surfaced that would facilitate parking in some way, whether or not it’s actually legal.

Streetsblog has already written about the most egregious of these: Simcha Felder’s on-street "grace period" proposal, which would effectively abolish time limits set by parking meters. But Maria Baez has slipped in a bill that could, if adopted, be more damaging. Baez, who represents District 14 in the Bronx (where three-quarters of households are car-free), wants the city to issue a parking permit to every New York City public school teacher. Not only would Intro 894 be disastrous in its own right, as Cap’n Transit points out, the net effect could be even worse.

If her bill passes, it’s likely that the police, firemen and every
other category of government employee will want their entitlements
entrenched in law.

The Baez bill, of course, comes as the city has cut down on parking permits in order to reduce driving by government employees. Last year about 52,000 teachers had their permits rescinded, leaving some 11,000 with free on-street parking privileges, in addition to those who use 15,000 designated off-street spots.

Other parking-friendly proposals now in the hopper include Intro 897, from Daniel Garodnick, which would allow drivers who don’t make their muni-meter receipts visible to challenge tickets by producing them later. A somewhat more encouraging bill is Intro 901, from John Liu, to order parking garages to set aside spaces for car-sharing programs like Zip Car. Great, Councilman Liu, but where’s the bike parking mandate?

It’s interesting to note common co-sponsor names on these bills. The "outer-borough" usuals like David Weprin aside, one stood out: Alan Gerson, representing traffic-choked Lower Manhattan, has signed on to Intros 894, 897 and 901.

  • east sider

    Here’s a question for a CPA or a tax lawyer: if teachers got official parking permits, wouldn’t the fair market value of the permits be taxable income, and wouldn’t the City have to withhold the value of the permits from teachers’ paychecks? That would make this perk prohibitively expensive for the recipients.

    More generally, you’d think that any parking permit that’s not required for the job itself but just makes commuting by car easier is, under federal law, taxable income. How can we get the IRS to go after placard abusers in that way?

  • as cycling in the city quickly approaches the level of personal automobile traffic especially in Manhattan the city needs to make that visible to the average person. Maybe some of those subway stat ads like the “MTA greeness” or NYC public school ads. The NYC DOT could sponsor them and MTA should be glad to put them up because they benefit from less drivers as well.

  • I \v/ NY

    these pander to motorists more than mccain’s gas tax “holiday”

  • Ian Turner

    East Sider,

    You are correct. The city includes the market value of employee parking as a taxable fringe benefit, if that market value exceeds the excludable limit of (I think) $220.

  • fdr

    Not only would “the police, firemen and every other category of government employee” want their permits codified into law, but every other profession that can claim to be as useful to society as teachers – doctors, nurses, whatever – will want permits too. As for taxable income, I don’t think the City now withholds the value from current permit holders, but they are supposed to report it. Enforcement is something else.

  • In fairness to Garodnick, I don’t think 897 is pro-car, its just a due process meausre. No one deliberately obscures the muni-meter receipt, they just fail to display it properly. Absent the danger that a reciept bearing the time and date of the violation could be forged after the fact, I don’t see a problem with allowing the motorist to present the muni-meter receipt as evidence.

  • The muni-meter receipt is an unfortunately weak link in the chain.

    I can’t leave my car parked with the windows cracked anymore, because the wind will blow the ticket around; this limits when I can leave my dog in the car. If I’m not looking closely, and leave the ticket upside-down, I’ll get nailed.

    There’s also a problem whereby on long avenue blocks, the cops will nail you immediately after parking, while you are walking to the muni-meter to pay for the space.

    People who attempt to cheat do it by leaving thirty separate muni-meter receipts in the dashboard, so the cop can’t read them all, and has to assume the truck’s legally parked.

    These things are easy to fix, though. 897 is part of it.

  • oscar

    Maria Baez is a clueless idiot

  • > Maria Baez is a clueless idiot

    No, she’s craven and is serving her /real/ constituency, the “public servants” who’ll scratch her back, during and after her tenure in the council.

    She probably needs teachers’ union support for something coming up, or owes them for whatever reason.

  • Carsharer

    Hey John Liu:

    How about giving car-sharing some free on-street parking instead? This would lower the cost for participants and encourage still more families to live without a car.

    Also, Zipcar usage is charged a 5% car rental tax on top of the regular 8%+ sales tax. I’m guessing this was meant to get a few more bucks out of tourists, but it’s counterproductive to charge it to residents who may factor this into the decision to car share vs. buy a one-family car.

  • MIndy

    good points all….but Kaja, actually you oughtn’t be leaving your dog in the car at all…it’s unsafe and California even has a law against it.

  • anon

    My e-mail to the bill’s co-sponsors (gerson@council.nyc.ny.us, koppell@council.nyc.ny.us, weprin@council.nyc.ny.us), after a similar e-mail to Baez herself:

    Dear Council Members:

    As a spouse of a NYC public school teacher, I appreciate Council Member Baez’s wish to make the lives of NYC teachers easier.

    But giving NYC teachers the privilege to park a private car anywhere (which authentic placards usually do, despite their explicit restrictions) would do far more harm to the city than it would help teachers.

    Cars’ air pollution is a known factor in New York City’s shamefully high rates of childhood asthma. The overbroad parking privileges Int 894 would provide would encourage many teachers to drive who would not otherwise, and would increase air pollution in the very vicinity of our most vulnerable residents–school children. And cars’ air pollution doesn’t only contribute to asthma, it has been shown to cause chromosomal damage in children’s lungs. That may implicate it in cancer and chronic illnesses.

    At this time of environmental and economic crisis, the City, as well as the State and U.S. for that matter, must not encourage people to drive their cars more, especially when viable alternatives exist, like in most of New York City.

    Other New Yorkers have provided other strong arguments against the bill at http://www.streetsblog.org/2009/01/27/city-council-hard-at-work-on-pro-parking-bills/

    Teachers need respect and a safe environment, and some perks here and there are certainly warranted too. But this bill is not the way to help them or anyone.

    Please immediately withdraw your sponsorship from this good-intentioned but potentially very harmful proposed law.

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