Simcha Felder Defends Parking Violators From Enforcement “Vultures”

In this clip from NY1’s "Road to City Hall," City Council member Simcha Felder defends his proposal to give drivers a five-minute "grace period" before they can be ticketed for overstaying the time limit at parking spots. Taking the law-and-order view is Transportation Alternatives director Paul White, who points out that codifying parking ticket excuses will simply sow confusion about what constitutes a violation.

Felder appears unconcerned that his bill will clog up streets with even more double-parked vehicles and drivers cruising for spots. What’s most discouraging, perhaps, is his repeated reference to parking agents as "vultures." Given the violence and aggression that parking agents already contend with, you would hope that elected officials would refrain from heaping derision upon these all-too-convenient targets.

  • Doug

    There is already a five-minute “grace period” before a driver can be ticketed for overstaying the time limit at a parking spot: it’s called the last five minutes the driver has paid for on the meter. How hard is it to know that if you have one hour on a meter you should probably head back to your car after 55 minutes?

    If parking agents are “vultures,” in Simcha’s opinion, the drivers must be babies, unable to tell time. And besides, how many drivers already get a grace period of sorts, due to the fact that the amount of parking agents on duty at any one time is insufficient to monitor one hundred percent of the city’s meters? As a sometimes driver, I’ve thanked the parking gods when I have arrived back at my spot five or ten minutes late to find that I haven’t been ticketed, especially when I see a parking agent just down the street.

    It’s an idiotic idea. Would the city then have to install timers to show how long it’s been since the meter expired? Should drivers also get a five-mile-per-hour “grace speed” on the speed limit? (Which, one could argue, they already have since only egregious speeders are typically pulled over.) Sometimes, the law calls for absolutes in the interest of efficiency.

  • Is this guy talking about the cars and the people who drive them, can’t quietly or aggressively give me 1.75 seconds to pass a double parked fellow car? This guy pisses me off so bad I can’t watch enough to get to the PSW part. The playground bell has rung, you are late, move your #$&%ing car! Mr. Felder, you and constituents shouldn’t leave moving your car, until the last minute!!!

  • In other news, Council member Felder said he is thinking about introducing legislation that would “give bank robbers a five-minute head start,” and he also insisted that Bernie Madoff “should get to keep the last 5%” of the money invested in his fund.

  • Rhywun

    Let ’em pass the law and watch it backfire. Learning by mistake is the only effective way to learn to stop proposing mind-numbingly asinine legislation.

  • Christopher

    I used to work as a judge at PVB, and while we were trained that no five-minute grace period existed, we were also advised to keep in mind that not everyone’s watches were in perfect synchronization. In other words, if a rule went into effect at 4 pm, the ticket was issued at 4:01, and you credibly testified that your watch said it was still 3:58, we were inclined to dismiss. This isn’t the same as a grace period, just and acknowledgment that in the real world reasonable people can differ (a little) as to what time it is.

  • Aaron

    This doesn’t even have anything to do parking or livable streets: if you institutionalize a grace period, it’s not a grace period – it’s just five extra minutes! People will just leave to move their car or put more money in the meter five minutes later and the same poor slobs will get ticketed. This is beyond stupid. I wouldn’t be at all bothered by some unspoken rule giving drives 5 minutes. But when people know about it, there’s no point!

  • Larry Littlefield

    Where does Felder stand on people fraudulently registering their cars in other locales to avoid paying the higher insurance costs here, thereby sticking those who are honest with the cost of all the fraud here?

    It seems like such people are an important part of the political coalition.

  • I wonder what Felder’s motivation is?

    Is he just trying to legislate irresponsibility?

  • Is he still trying to make up to the hard-liners for his congestion pricing vote?

  • What does Felder really expect agents to do when they find a car that’s in violation but for less than five minutes? Stand there just hanging out till the car reaches the five minute mark (while the rest of the street(s) they’re responsible for get none of their attention)?

    Why, that would be positively vulture-like, wouldn’t it?!

    If that’s not the idea, then how is an agent realistically supposed to keep track of all the 5 minute grace periods they have running on a particular street? Are they going to carry a bunch of egg timers that they can wind up and set on the hood of every car that’s IN violation, but for less than 5 minutes?

    Seriously, it seems that the rule would make TEAs jobs extremely difficult. I can see them being tempted to not bother any write tickets at all in parking zones/conditions at issue. A frustrating feeling, when doing so would get you fired.

    Just because a lot of rules don’t get enforced doesn’t mean that a culture of non-enforcement should be promoted, entrenched. Quite to the #$@%, @#$%, @#$% contrary, actually.

    Besides, step back for a second and consider how stupid a path this is for any government to follow: We’re going to take an existing law, not repeal it or amend it, but add on top of it another law that says you can’t enforce the prior law. K-R-A-Z-Y.

  • Pursuant

    Look, if you want to hold drivers responsible to the letter of the law and beat your chests about how they need to get a watch that’s fine. However if the NYPD starts writing tickets to cyclists for violations I would expect your full support. Likewise when bikes are rounded up when locked to public fixtures I would expect you to applaud the enforcement actions.

    Just don’t want you looking like a bunch of hypocrites.

  • Who is holding motorists to the letter of the law? Certainly not the NYPD. Are you comparing the locking of a 25lb, human sized bicycle to say a 4000lb car that sitting in the street? I am sure not.

  • Pursuant, you make a good point, but if you’re responding to my comment, you’re siezing on one tangent I indulged in, rather than my main point which was that this particular proposed law seems nonsensical and impossible to implement or enforce.

    And I’ll defend my tangent anyway: yes, a culture of non-enforcement is a bad thing, including how it manifests in non-enforcement of bike rules. I might indeed applaud thorough enforcement if everyone, including motorists, were subject to it–but not if they weren’t while bikes were. That would still be a culture of non-enforcement.

  • RoadRage

    Pursuant, you have a good point. And Council Member Felder has a point about traffic cops being vultures. Getting a ticket 30 seconds after a meeter expires contributes to road rage. Cops speed around my neighborhood, in their little go-carts, trying to catch illegally parked cars in the first 5 minutes of street cleaning rules, also creates a hazard. But it’s funny in this city. You can speed and run red lights, scott-free. But if you park illegally, you’ll get a ticket in the blink of an eye. What is more dangerous? A parked car or a car speeding through a red light?
    People commenting on this site are only looking at this issue form the perspective that all cars are evil. Now, I don’t own a car and ride my bike all the time. But, I do know a few small business owners who rely on their cars so they can do their job. And having traffic cops circling around their cars like vultures isn’t fair to them. As bike riders, we often break traffic laws, don’t have the proper bells or lights, and park our bikes illegally. So, who are we to cast the first stone?


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