Another Year, Another David Greenfield Parking Bill

The City Council is again looking to placate scofflaw drivers. This time, Council Member David Greenfield of Brooklyn wants to limit cases in which the city can tow vehicles belonging to drivers who have racked up hundreds of dollars in unpaid parking fines. DNAinfo has the story:

“Any driver who has been towed knows that a trip to the impound lot can be one of the most frustrating experiences in New York City,” Greenfield said.

Under the new legislation, instead of towing, vehicles would be locked with devices called “boots,” which prevent drivers from moving until they call in and pay their outstanding fines, plus a $50 processing fee. Once paid, drivers receive a code that allows them to unlock the boot and drive away, as long as they return the boot.

Cars left booted for 72 hours could be towed under the bill, as could cars parked in tow zones, bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants or driveways.

Greenfield said the bill comes after numerous complaints from residents who accused the city of unfairly targeting them to make cash.

Drivers whose cars are towed under the current system have to schlep to an impound lot and then pay $185 in towing and $20 in storage a day, in addition to tickets, Greenfield said.

“This bill would give drivers a chance to pay their debts to the city without wasting an entire day trying to retrieve their vehicle,” he said. “It’s a simple and fair way for the city to enforce its parking laws without excessively punishing drivers.”

Retrieving a car from impound has got to be a frustrating ordeal, which is pretty much the point. Not that the boot itself isn’t a deterrent, but if nothing else this is further evidence of a City Council preoccupied with making life easier for motorists who believe laws should not apply to them.

Of course this is old hat for Greenfield, whose obsession with loosening parking regulations seemingly knows no bounds, and who a year ago went online to rant about the city clearing snow for safer walking and biking. Yet when reckless drivers inflict serious injury and death in his district, Greenfield has nothing to say.

Greenfield’s bill has been referred to the transportation committee, with support from council members including Brad Lander, Tish James, Lew Fidler, Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez.

  • vnm

    This bill would create more motorist agita than it eliminates. If a car is booted during alternate side of the street parking, first of all it is going to impede street cleaning. But Greenfield wouldn’t care about that.  Second, it will subject its owner to another ticket. Of course the driver would then waste everyone’s time and resources in a Kafkaesque farce fighting the ticket they got for violating alternate side regulations while their car was booted for earlier unpaid tickets.

  • Art Brisbane

    “Greenfield said the bill comes after numerous complaints from residents
    who accused the city of unfairly targeting them to make cash.”

    Really? The city is targeting specific car owners to make cash?  Car owners who are otherwise doing nothing wrong?  What is the proof for this statement?  Who has been targeted and why?  This seems like an incredibly irresponsible and immature accusation for a City Council member to make. 

    Perhaps one of our journalistic “truth vigilantes” can uncover the real story.

  • I’m getting pretty sick of the attention that gets paid to whiners who think they own the roads (and the parking spaces) and claim it’s an outrage simply because the city collects revenue from tickets. As if a city collecting revenue from tickets (and taxes and permits and licenses) is some sort of illegal and unethical outrage. 

    237 traffic deaths in this city in 2011, and this clown is wasting the people’s time placating scofflaw drivers. 

    On the plus side, it makes me feel  good to know that Staten Island isn’t the only borough that has car happy city council members. (I guess misery loves company).   “Jimmy” Oddo (SI Dist. 50) and “Vinny” Ignizio (SI Dist. 51) seem to think Robert Moses is still alive and the city’s future is going to feature wide parkways full of Pontiacs and Buicks. 

  • $20/day storage for towed cars? At that rate it could be cheaper for occasional drivers to leave their cars at the pound than park them in a garage or private lot.

    The basic idea behind parking regulations is supposed to be to clear the streets for cleaning. If illegally parked cars are simply booted doesn’t that defeat the purpose of alternate side of the street parking rules?

    Targeting drivers who continually break the rules seems like a good use of limited resources. If they haven’t learned to park legally maybe its time to increase the penalty.

  • Glenn

    I’m sorry, but this seems to be aimed at helping…HELPING…the worst offenders and those that frequently violate the parking rules and actually get ticketed. Let’s say that for every time you break the parking rules you have a 10% chance of actually getting a ticket. This law would be aimed at helping those that have perhaps 5-10 outstanding violations against them. That means that on average they probably violated the parking laws 50-100 times before they got towed. Yes, that person should not have access to their car and should have to pay all of that money back to get their car. And on the ride to the impound lot, they should feel shame and they should reconsider how they are selfishly behaving badly to their neighbors.

  • Seth

    If this reduces the costs to the city of towing, then do it.  If you want to replace the agitation, just raise the fines even more.

  • Ed Ravin

    One enforcement agent in a vehicle can probably boot five times as many offenders in a day than can be towed.  So booting might be a more effective enforcement tool.  Having the driver unlock the boot themselves and bring it back also saves staff time for the city.

    BUT things aren’t so simple.  Why isn’t the city already doing this, if it saves money?  Are boots with unlock codes already in use anywhere, and have they proven to be cost-effective?   That extra computer hardware costs money.

  • Driver

    I have two simple ideas to solve the towing problem. 
    1.  Don’t get parking tickets.  It’s really not that hard, although occasionally even the best intentioned of us will forget to put a quarter in the meter or misread a sign or run late to move the car, so there is solution 2.
    2.  Pay your tickets in a timely fashion.  I think they give you 20 days or so to pay.  It’s really not that hard. 

    ““This bill would give drivers a chance to pay their debts to the city
    without wasting an entire day trying to retrieve their vehicle,”
    These drivers have already had plenty of opportunity to pay their debts to the city.  Why should we feel any sympathy for them? 

  • Amy Park

    I don’t think Mr. Greenfield is trying to make scofflaw’s lives easier although that may happen for some as a result of this proposal. There are many circumstances where people (including myself) receive erroneous tickets or switch apartments and do not receive reminder’s at their new address after forgetting to pay a ticket that could have been received after an unintentional violation such as forgetting to renew inspection, a block without a sign near the parking location, broken meter ticket etc and many other cases. People who have many kids and work multiple jobs to make ends meet such as myself do not include paying erroneous tickets on the top of their to-do list and sometimes they forget. I agree that it takes time before a car gets towed but people move apartments, mail can get lost etc. I have experience with such frustrations as I’ve parked by the train every morning for the last 15 years and have had my share of ticket drama even though I never intended to break any laws. Don’t ask how but I once got a ticket on which the address was about a mile from where I parked and I was perfectly legally parked – I contested and won but many put such tickets in their bag and just forget.There are many out there like myself. Towing cars often can damage the car, costs the city money as it is not time efficient and I actually think wheel boots is a very sensible suggestion – the city tows the car to force owners to pay up, wheel boots accomplish the same with lower labor costs to the city, no risk to the car of the violator (watch them lift a car on their trucks, i wouldn’t want my car to go through that) and a lot less heartache and monetary loss for those that truly had no intention to violate (yet are irresponsible for not paying up). If 3 days with wheel boots pass and no payment is made then being towed is well-deserved.

    And I would think the city would not ticket cars with wheel boots on a day of alternate side parking or an expired meter, that can easily be implemened and only makes sense.

  • Andrew

    @d6518aa4b2fe46540ef3a4d195a6a11e:disqus Keeping track of parking tickets is no different from keeping track of bills.  How is it possible to rack up hundreds of dollars in fines without realizing it?

    According to the bill, cars parked in “tow zones, bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants or driveways” can still be towed.  Does that mean that double parked cars and cars parked in bus lanes, bike lanes, and sidewalks can sit around for 72 hours before they’re removed?  And I thought the whole city was a tow zone.

    But my bigger concern is that Greenfield appears to see it as his primary responsibility as Council Member to pander to drivers.  Why isn’t he serving his constituents who walk and bike and ride the bus and subway?  Why isn’t he serving his constituents who drive responsibly and are willing to pay the penalty when they mess up?  Can’t he find any more important issues to fight for?

  • Bristol Traffic

    I’m going to defend this proposal
     -you can clamp a lot more vehicles per hour than towing, which involves a tow truck and significantly more expense.
     -if clamping costs less, you can reduce the threshold for enforcement.
     -clamped vehicles make a wonderful deterrent.
     -it still takes time to be unclamped -you have to wait- and you have to pay, so it’s still a deterrent.
    Towing can be reserved for parking where you are blocking something, while ticketing and then clamping can be the daily solution.

    To see some examples of bulk clamping here in Bristol, England -for untaxed vehicles- look at

    These vehicles are identified by a van that drives around with 4 number plate recognition cameras hooked to a list of registered vehicles -an van full of clamps. It drives round, gets a beep on an untaxed car, clamps it. This is the van

    Rather than complain, consider supporting this. If it increases enforcement, it’s good.

  • Brooklyner

    People who have many kids and work multiple jobs to make ends meet such
    as myself do not include paying electricity bills of their
    to-do list and sometimes they forget. I’d like Greenfield to introduce legislation making it illegal for landlords to evict me when I forget to pay my rent.

  • This measure seems pretty serious and drivers that have previous tickets can have a lot of problems with the law. Not to mention that all the towing and impounding will be eliminated from the list of problems. Unfortunately, not all drivers will be happy with the new parking bill, considering that the idea of creating more parking spaces would be better. And they may be right about that.

  • Whusuuup

    @Brooklyner – I agree with you – if you receive an erroneous electric bill or are double charged for your rent you should not be evicted nor liable to pay… if this happens often enough maybe propose it to your council member to do something about it. you get my point…

  • Talamop

    Don’t worry the private City Marshals’s won’t let it happen there kick back from the private tow companies is to big.
    plus if the have to boot the cars the private city marshal would have to be there. unlike now when the tow company justs takes the car without the marshal there. this is a misdemeanor offense under the civil court act, it requires the private city marshal to be present to levy on the car. but no one cares about the legal aspect….. That why the Sheriffs Office no longer handles it…. The deputy sheriffs did by the book, private city marshals some of which make several million a year for themselves…and they aren’t even there enforcing these court orders….just to many hands out for payola….

  • Adam

    I don’t think Mr. Greenfield is trying to make scofflaw’s lives easier although that may happen for some as a result of this proposal.

    Very good statement, +100500

  • Anonymous

    I have an idea. Stop racking up tickets.

  • Bernard David

    Blocked Driveway Towing in BrooklynTowing can be reserved for parking where you are blocking something, while ticketing and then clamping can be the daily solution.Last Years i Face Issue of Blocked Drive at My Street.Just I call Blocked Driveway Towing and Within 15 mints My Issue Resolved and that persons Car Hi Jack.I think it is Good Solution.
    Bernard Tyler


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