Upper West Side’s CB 7 Wants To Pay For Sunday Parking

The Upper West Side wants parking rules to apply on Sundays, too. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/dumbonyc/2386960117/##dumbonyc/Flickr##

According to a report in DNAinfo, Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side is taking the rare step of asking the city to end the giveaway of free curbside parking. The community board approved a resolution calling for paid Sunday parking in its meeting last night by a vote of 21 to 12, with five abstentions, DNAinfo’s Leslie Albrecht reports.

Sunday parking has been free all over the city since a 2005 vote by the City Council (inspired by a Freddy Ferrer mayoral campaign gambit) decreed that no one should have to “pay to pray,” overriding a Bloomberg veto. (Note to out-of-town readers: NYC churchgoers who ride the subway or bus to worship still pay to pray.)

After living with the results of the law for a few years, CB7 is looking to reinstate meter rates and increase turnover in scarce spaces.

“The result of the ‘pay to pray’ law has been almost zero turnover on many commercial blocks on the Upper West Side on Sundays,” explained CB 7 member Ken Coughlin, who voted for the resolution. “Merchants have been complaining that their driving customers can’t find parking spaces.”

Given that a 2008 study by Transportation Alternatives showed that in one 15-block area of Columbus Avenue, cruising for cheap metered parking adds up to 366,000 miles a year, free Sunday parking must add an incredibly destructive volume of traffic to the neighborhood’s streets.

To reinstate metered parking on Sundays, however, the Upper West Side needs permission from the City Council. Gale Brewer, who represents the area, said she has no plans to introduce such legislation. “It’s not going to move,” she explained. “The City Council passed legislation only a few years ago on the topic and my colleagues in Brooklyn and Queens feel very strongly on the subject.” Brewer believes that it wouldn’t be possible for legislation to carve out an exemption from the “pay-to-pray” law for one neighborhood, though she says her staff is looking into it.

Coughlin, however, suggested that there’s precedent for allowing different rules in different neighborhoods. “For example,” he suggested, “sidewalk cafes are allowed in some neighborhoods but not others.” If Brewer’s right that the council isn’t going to reverse itself on citywide Sunday parking, this legal point becomes the central question for Upper West Side residents looking for relief from excessive Sunday traffic.

  • How about not charging for parking until 11 am so the churchgoers aren’t affected. With free parking left for people attending church and less congestion when they go out later, churchgoers might get behind it. Most people don’t start to go shopping or run errands until later anyway.

  • kevd

    Doesn’t the Upper West side have a pretty significant Jewish population?
    Last time I checked, they don’t go to church (or whatever) on Sundays.

    While do only Christians get to avoid paying to park their cars prior to praying?

    If they are going to have such a stupid rule, shouldnt that alter it for local populations?
    Like how there is no alternate side parking in orthodox neighborhoods on saturdays.

  • Glenn

    Shoup’s concept of local areas keeping what they collect in parking revenues is the best idea.

  • MRN

    Anyhow, the pray-to-pray thing is just a handy title. Free Parking is the Opium of the Voters.

  • The whole concept of a “pay to pray” law is ridiculous and offensive. First, anyone can pray for free at any time–it does not require driving to church and parking. (Besides which, the church is going to charge membership dues and take a collection, so there’s nothing free about going there.) Second, why are only car-driving churchgoers rewarded while those who take transit to church have to pay? (Is this a violation of the equal protection clause?) Third, why are Christians benefited and Jews not? (Is this indirect state sponsorship of religion?) What ever happened to separation of church and state?

  • JK

    First, praise for CB 7. Nice to see some facts penetrate the usual veil of hyper parochialism. Speaking of which, Gail Brewer should introduce the repeal even if it’s “not going anywhere.” Most bills introduced in council aren’t going anywhere, it hardly matters to their sponsors. Come on Gail.

    Lastly, pay to pray is a great political slogan, and utterly, intrinsically bogus. It’s really about local car owners not wanting to move their cars on Sunday. Thanks to pay to pray, the reality is that church goers can’t find curbside parking on metered streets because local motorists have already taken the spots. The NYC solution is that there is unlimited Sunday double parking “allowed” in front of many if not most churches.

  • Suzanne

    “Pay to pray,” What a piece of deliberatly misleading crap. The poor, put upon Christians are being suppressed again… Bullhooey! If you don’t want to pay for parking, then walk or take the train like everyone else. Or if you really want to be able to park your car, your church can buy land – at the going rate – and build a parking lot. Why the hell should all of society have to pay so one particular religious group can get free parking… and clog up our streets, endanger our kids and grandparents, and pollute the air with their noisy, stinking pieces of crap.

  • fdr

    Be careful about reminding people that Jews still have to pay to park on Saturdays. Someone will introduce a bill to eliminate meters on Saturdays too, and the Council will again pass it over Bloomberg’s veto.

  • I remember when it was a dime

    While do only Christians get to avoid paying to park their cars prior to praying?
    Jews generally do not drive to service, they are not supposed to drive or operate machinery during the Sabbath.
    If I remember correctly, one problem churchgoers had with meters on Sunday was having to leave the service to ‘feed’ the meter. Metered parking on Sundays was fairly new at the time, it was implemented by Bloomberg to squeeze out a bit of extra revenue. Traditionally meters were in effect Monday through Saturday.


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