Q Poll: Chris Quinn’s Parking Agenda Out of Touch With New Yorkers

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her city-owned Chevy Suburban in 2008. Photo copyright ##http://www.stevenhirsch.com/##Steven Hirsch##.

To hear Christine Quinn tell it, New Yorkers are crying out for relief from unjust parking policies. Over the last two years, it seems that when City Council members weren’t flogging legislation to add layers of bureaucracy to DOT’s street safety program, they were tripping over themselves to absolve motorists of one responsibility after another.

No matter that most New York commuters don’t drive to work. Or that drivers would be best served by rational prices for on-street parking, not endless cruising for free spots. Or even that one bill, prohibiting the sanitation department from placing stickers on vehicles parked in the path of street sweepers, would put an end to a practice that has benefited the entire city by improving street cleanliness. Nothing has stood in the way of Chris Quinn’s mission to free the put-upon car owner from the tyranny of onerous city edicts.

Including public opinion, it appears. According to a Quinnipiac poll released today, a majority of city voters disagree with Quinn and the council that city sanitation stickers are “unnecessarily punitive.” The poll found that 60 percent of voters, including 57 percent who park on the street, support the use of the stickers.

Support for the yellow stickers ranges from 56 – 40 percent each in Brooklyn and The Bronx to 66 – 26 percent in Manhattan. Men are stuck on the stickers 63 – 33 percent while women want them 57 – 37 percent. There is little partisan difference.

“Even voters who park on the street and do the Alternate Side Parking dance are stuck on the stickers by a wide margin,” said poll director Maurice Carroll in a Quinnipiac media release.

You’ll recall that the sanitation sticker bill was the brainchild of Brooklyn Council Member David Greenfield, who promoted it with characteristic zeal (“I mean, what’s next? We’re going to start slashing people’s tires when they don’t park on the correct side?”). It was also championed by transportation committee chair James Vacca, who called the stickers “cruel.” Weighed against the reality of voter sentiment, such inflammatory rhetoric makes the council look out of touch. It could be that New Yorkers aren’t as worked up about this stuff as their electeds think.

You don’t have to be a political scientist to know that governing by pet peeve is not likely to result in sound policy. Now that Speaker Quinn and the council have impartial evidence that a small number of gripes doesn’t necessarily reflect the opinions of the electorate at large, maybe they will turn their attention to actual problems, starting with the hundreds of fatalities and thousands of injuries suffered on city streets every year.

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