First Post-Election Business for City Council: Making Traffic Worse

Looks like the City Council is ready to assert itself in the wake of Michael Bloomberg’s underwhelming re-election to a third term. They’ve chosen to draw a line in the sand, apparently, by creating more congestion on New York City’s streets.

council_members_rip.jpgTo signal their displeasure with law enforcement, Council members David Weprin, Simcha Felder, and Vincent Gentile ripped up parking tickets on the steps of City Hall. Photo: Daily Politics.

This morning, the transportation committee, still helmed by Comptroller-elect John Liu, considered bills to create a five-minute "grace period" for muni-meter and alternate-side parking, and to hand out more parking placards to members of the clergy. The Post and AM New York report that both bills will likely sail through the council with enough votes to override Bloomberg’s expected veto.

According to Council Member Peter Vallone, Jr. the bills are "an attempt to legislate common sense and discretion." But really, what we have here is old-fashioned pandering combined with a failure to comprehend the consequences of giving away curb space.

The council calls it a "grace period," but what does it really mean to ban parking agents from issuing a ticket until five minutes after the allotted time expires? Well, if you drive somewhere and pay for 40 minutes of metered parking, now you get 45 minutes. The bill gives on-street parkers more bang for their buck — a subsidy for the minority of New Yorkers who get around by private car.

With less turnover of metered spaces, drivers will double-park more and cruise around longer as they search for open spots. Whether you’re walking, biking, riding a bus, or driving, you’ll have to contend with more traffic clogging up the streets.

The expansion of parking placards for clergy will have the same effect
— more free curb space for an entitled class of drivers, with less to go around for
everyone else. The bill flies in the face of placard-reduction policies that the Bloomberg administration began enacting in 2008 with an eye toward cutting congestion.

City Room reports that Bloomberg, predicting "chaos and enormous increases in contested tickets," is ready to veto the grace period bill. A council override would not augur well for the next four years of New York City transportation policy.

  • How about a five day grace period on my monthly Metrocard? Or for turnstile jumpers to go back and buy a fare?

    But seriously, here’s a better idea: give the parking times a pre-determined end of the grace period. If they buy an hour, give them 65 minutes (similar to the Metrocard bonus), but for god’s sake, put the actual time they need to be back on the ticket so the agent can hold drivers accountable

  • And on the clergy thing, I have no problem with the clergy getting their placards if they could tell their congregations to leave their cars at home and not double park all over the place. Not likely, but worth asking more of them…

  • And on the clergy thing, I have no problem with the clergy getting their placards if they could tell their congregations to leave their cars at home and not double park all over the place. Not likely, but worth asking more of them…

    I think NYPD stepping up enforcement of moving violations would really increase public safety!

  • Only God should get a placard.

  • Pursuant

    Wait, God doesn’t bike?

  • Josh

    Pandering is absolutely right.

  • Looks like it was already voted out of committee with CM Dan Garodnick the lone dissenting vote. Everyone should thank Dan for this courageous vote.

    The Council’s Transportation Committee approved the bill by a vote of 7 to 1 on Monday morning. Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick, a Manhattan Democrat who voted against establishing a grace period, said that “you cannot legislate the issue of good judgment, common sense and grace” and that the Council “be encouraging the mayor to direct agents to act practically and with good judgment.”

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/16/bloomberg-will-veto-grace-period-for-parking-meters/

  • Clergy placards–one of the reasons why the M96 is one of the slowest buses in town.

  • Seriously, if there anything to prevent the Administration from printing the end of the grace period on the receipt?

  • jsd

    Echoes of the gas tax holiday. Give me a damn break. This makes me want to move.

  • fdr

    Printing the end of the grace period on the receipt won’t accomplish anything. As Bloomberg has said, people will next want an extension of the grace period. If my receipt was good until noon and I have a grace period until 12:05, I’ll plead with the cop that it’s only 10 seconds after 12:05. And on and on.

  • vnm

    Why can’t the City just do what Glenn says but reduce the length of meters everywhere by 5 minutes? So wherever motorists now have 30 minutes, they would instead have 25 minutes plus the 5-minute grace period?

  • I kind of like the “bonus” plan politically, but vnm makes a good point…

  • Ian Turner

    I’d think it makes more sense not to print the grace period anywhere at all, on the sign or the ticket, so that people are less likely to complain about aggressive ticketing. That way the ticket agent can say, “Well, I gave you a 5 minute grace period, stop complaining.”

  • J. Mork

    I think it would cost a fortune to change all of the signs to make them five minutes less. But it would be a satisfying outcome should this legislation pass.

  • The Dynamic Mumeshantz

    Well looks like the Council is laying a big fat egg with this one. Of course this is part of THEIR windshield perspective since I would wager that over 90% – if not 100% – of the council own cars. Of course that is far higher and elitist then the less than 50% of households in NYC who don’t have a vehicle.

    Why are they pandering to drivers?

    Why don’t they go to work on a bill now that would allow you to board a bus for free if it is more than 5 minutes late? That would help far more New Yorkers. And that’s only a mere $2.50, not $50 or more dollars for an expired meter ticket.

  • Car Free Nation

    Who cares about the grace period? Just increase the rates so that people don’t sit in the spots all day. Accept credit cards only, and keep charging until the car leaves.

  • 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 New Dorp Lane. But not everyone can do that especially drivers with small kids or older drivers.

  • Doug

    I think they should propose another bill: add a five minute grace period to the five minute grace period. Imagine it! It could go on forever.

    Seriously, it can’t be that hard to park your car, pay the meter, look at the receipt and think, “Hmm, I have to give myself enough time to get back in an hour.” I could care less whether a meter runs for 60 minutes or 65 minutes, but the idea that people are such children that they need a grace period — oh, wook who can’t wead a cwock — is silly.

  • God, what imbeciles. Can’t we just enforce the laws that are on the books? Doug is right — if you can’t make it back to your car at the appointed time, then you probably shouldn’t be driving.

    Why don’t we start giving bank robbers a five-minute head start, in order to give them a fighting chance?

  • Car Free Nation

    As much as I hate the parking entitlement (and as you can imagine, I don’t have a car), I’m not against this law. As far as I’m concerned I’d rather have all the parking enforcement focused on parking infractions that really cause problems, such as double parking, parking in bike lanes, or parking in sidewalks.

    When the Times did their analysis of tickets a few months ago, you could see that most of the tickets were for alternate side parking violations, or expired meters, which are the easiest ones for NYPD to catch. But for other users of the streets, these are the least important.

    The real issue here is the price for on street parking. We need to charge more for parking to free up available space, and we need to charge everywhere, not just in commercial districts. By doing that we’ll help eliminate the double parking problem, and the parking in the bike lane problem. Now that would be something.

  • Can streetsblog do a survey of City Council Members and how they get around town?

  • This doesn’t bother me, because as others have pointed out, motorists will simply view the expiration of the grace period the way they viewed the expiration of the meter before, and blow the grace period almost as frequently as they blew the meter period. As for alternate side, 9/10 of the people are sitting in their car and don’t get ticekted unless they refuse to move when the sweeper comes. Like CFN says, there are not the most important violations to enforce, just the easiest.

  • Any reasonable court would strike this down. How on earth can the city enforce a grace period? Traffic police should ignore the grace period altogether and ticket people as the always have. The Council is proving how un-serious and foolish they really are.

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