City Council’s “Grace Period” Sparks Parking Agent Assault. What’s Next?

slashgrab.jpgA serial tire slasher, shown here in a video still, has targeted the vehicles of TEA agents. What effect will the meter "grace period" have on what is an already volatile environment? Image: Daily News

Before it’s even signed into law, the City Council’s inane parking meter "grace period" is already making the job of traffic law enforcement that much harder. Last week a Bronx TEA agent was allegedly assaulted by a 23-year-old motorist named George Collazo, who was under the impression that the new rule had already taken effect. The Daily News reports:

When [Collazo] returned to his parked car in Westchester Square on Thursday afternoon and found an agent about to slap a ticket on his windshield he allegedly went nuts.

Collazo wrestled a hand-held computer out of agent Sophia Sewer’s hand, bending her finger back as he shouted that he couldn’t get a ticket, authorities said.

"I get a five-minute grace period. It was in the media, today on the news," he yelled, according to court papers.

Collazo, who allegedly threw the computer to the ground, has been charged with menacing and assault.

Just as area merchants tried to justify recent acts of TEA vehicle vandalism in Westchester Square, even in such a clear case of motorist aggression, the News (which dubbed the TEA tire slasher a "Rubber Robin Hood") can’t resist an attempt at rationalization.

A witness to the incident said Collazo had just bought parking time at a muni-meter and was bringing the ticket back to put on his windshield when the agent swooped in.

"That’s why they need a grace period," said Aurora Susi, an employee at nearby Metro Optics.

With parking enforcers already subject to regular harassment and physical attacks, expect more confrontations between emboldened drivers and "swooping" TEAs once the latest giveaway kicks in, most likely with the continued tacit approval of city media. Nice job, Chris Quinn and City Council.

  • NYC at usual. Crazy drivers attacking agents over a new law, that isn’t even law yet. TEA always get attacked by drivers which again reinforces the attitude and moral that drivers have a fundemental right to do what they want, when they want.

  • Nice rationalization there, News.

    There’s something much deeper wrong with this type of person. Who else does this sociopath attack when things don’t go his way? Woe be upon the next deli counter clerk who mishears his order, huh?

    Civilized people don’t do things like this, regardless of whether they believe they’re being ‘wronged’ or not. This tacit approval of “Robin Hood” (lol)-style outlaw-ism (sp?) is deeply disturbing.

  • KU Steve

    If someone is being ticketed while they are walking to or from paying their ticket at the muni-meter, the system isn’t working. That said, people who assault a TEA should be facing a prison sentence.

  • Boris

    The pool of potential TEA agents just shrunk a bit as it is now seen as a more dangerous job. The small but nonzero wage premium that would now be required to keep the same number of traffic agents as before- that we have to pay through taxes- is probably larger than any savings drivers may see in ticket reductions.

  • Josh

    “They need to give you time to walk back to the car.”

    Because, you know, it’s just SOOOOO difficult to factor time to walk back to your car into the amount of time showing on the meter.

  • I was waiting for this to happen when this jackass law was approved. And even though I expected it, I am still amazed at just how little time it took before an act of assault took place.

    Thank Simcha Felder.

  • J. Mork

    Josh — what was alleged to have happened is that the driver got out of the car, walked to the muni meter (one per block) and then by the time he walked back to the car to put the receipt on his windshield, he was getting a ticket.

    Even as a member of the choir, I have to say that’s pretty lame.

    Not that that’s an excuse to assault anyone, of course.

  • Charles

    Why not let someone leave their car in the space for as long as they want, then send them a bill for the time they used? Yes, this would require something like an E-ZPass for parking, but we ought to be able to manage that.

    Rates that start at, say, 2 dollars and hour and skyrocket to 70 bucks if you go overtime don’t make any sense. By no means am I excusing thuggish behavior by motorists. I’m just saying, the system they’re using is also irrational.

  • Charles –

    Who would have to pay to implement that, though? How much would such a city-wide system cost to start up? Sensors on every street light or telephone poll, operations people in what would certainly be an insanely large center (probably not based in NY, or even in the US), etc…

    And how would anybody park in NYC if they lacked readable tags? Toll booths at all entrances selling temporary e-readable parking tags?

    As for me, I think the best thing would be to give these people a taste of their own medicine. Suspend all parking laws for one week, see how well that works. See how quickly they come clamoring back on their knees, begging for rules and enforcement…

  • Yes, the problem is the agent is ticketing you while you’re at the muni-meter, which on Manhattan avenue blocks can be as much as a 900-foot round-trip.

    This has nearly happened to me but I got the agent’s attention with some yellin’. It is really stupid that they haven’t trained agents to look at the meter, and see if anyone’s standing there or walking to or from it, before writing the ticket.

    It is however not the agent’s prerogative; they’re promoted by tickets written, and screwing you is in their interest. More systematic problems…

  • “They need to give you time to walk back to the car”

    No…that’s because you’re supposed to plan AHEAD of time to pay your meter BEFORE time expires…some people.

  • I agree with Brad that the grace period is inane policy; it’s time to get serious about finding better solutions here. Tensions are running high because parking policies really suck in this city, and you top that off with the loons that are out there (and some of the idiotic traffic agents, who are also in no short supply), and nonsense like this is bound to break out. I’m almost amused at the tire slashing except that WE have to pay for it now!

    On the one hand you need strong enforcement, especially in Manhattan — it’s literally critical to keeping the city moving. On the other hand, in the borough where I live, the street cleaning rules, and the regular no-notice modifications, are designed to make it damn near impossible to stay on the good side of the law — pretty regularly the local precinct simply marks all legal spots on a morning as No Parking, Temporary Order so there’s no where to move your car to out of the way of street cleaning. We’ve got plenty of parking, but we’re constantly being screwed with by the local board and the precinct.

    I realize that it’s part of city life – parking is gonna be tough, and if you don’t like it, you shouldn’t have a car. But I think there’s a better balance to be achieved and we’re way off of it. It’s one thing to use parking enforcement to achieve good transit goals, it’s something else entirely to just make rules for the sole purpose of making money off people who are doing their best to get by.

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