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Vacca Watch: Council Allows Parking Meter Rates to Rise to Dollar Per Hour

Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca at a rally against the 25-cent meter rate bump in December. Photo:
Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca at a rally against the 25-cent meter rate bump in December. Photo:

After a grim day, it's nice to be able to head into the holiday weekend with some good news.

In a vote on Wednesday, the City Council allowed a proposed parking meter rate hike to move forward. The cost of parking on the street for an hour will increase from 75 cents to a dollar in Manhattan above 86th Street and in the other four boroughs.

In the last budget fight, council members led by Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca and Brooklyn rep Diana Reyna successfully fought to keep meter rates at 75 cents, though they allowed them to rise in the Manhattan core.

All indications suggested that the council would again fight to keep on-street parking as subsidized as possible. Vacca announced his opposition to the rate hike at a council budget hearing in early June; Vacca and Queens rep Karen Koslowitz promised to fight for the low rates in a Daily News article published later that month.

This time around, however, the council opted against removing the parking meter rate hike from the budget. Neither Vacca's office nor that of council Speaker Christine Quinn would explain why they let the hike go through, though both confirmed that they did.

The council's official press release on the 2012 budget touts their prevention of teacher layoffs or firehouse closures; perhaps council members understood that the roughly $14 million that would be raised by charging more for parking was needed elsewhere.

It's also possible that they finally realized that underpriced parking just makes it harder to find a spot and clogs the streets with drivers endlessly cruising for an open spot. Given past behavior, that seems less likely.

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