James Vacca’s Pet Peeve Committee Is Back in Session

Hate to break it to Jimmy Vacca, but the City Council's parking bills aren't making New York City any safer. Image: ##http://twitter.com/TransportNation/status/276393639553425408##@TransportNation##

The City Council transportation committee met today, and if you thought the council was due for a break from dreaming up motorist entitlements, think again: this afternoon’s agenda was all about parking.

On the docket were three bills: one to require DOT to provide notice before changing street signs that affect parking; one to allow residents with vehicles to block their own driveways; and a third to relax rules against double parking near schools and day care centers.

Judging by the Transportation Nation Twitter feed, today’s discussion was full of gems like this one from committee chair James Vacca.

It has been nearly 10 months since the City Council held its last hearing on traffic safety. In the four months since council members introduced the Crash Investigation Reform Act, some 5,000 pedestrians and cyclists have been injured in crashes that were not investigated by police, and at least 48 people have died after being struck by drivers.

  • Eric McClure

    I hope the bill that would “relax rules against double parking near schools and day care centers” isn’t as idiotic as it sounds.

  • Voter

    Most ppl in NYC do not own cars. I hate to break that to Jimmy Vacca.

  • Voter

    Most ppl in NYC do not own cars. I hate to break that to Jimmy Vacca.

  • Anonymous

    What’s wrong with blocking your own driveway?

  •  @EricMcClure:disqus We both know it will be far, far more idiotic than you could imagine.

    No one capable of recognizing that double parking causes, like, traffic problems could penetrate a mind that wants to encourage those problems near schools and day care centers.

  • Anonymous

    Pretty snarky comment to make about the agency that “is responsible for the operation and maintenance
    of 6,300 miles of streets and highways, nearly 800 bridges, 1.3 million
    street signs, 300,000 streetlights and 12,000 signalized intersections”, probably 98% of which is just to move cars around. Why is it so hard for people like Vacca to get that it’s all this driving they support so vehemently that is causing all the traffic that they complain about? It’s like Vacca telling the NYPD that “some people out there are committing crimes” while defending the right to own assault weapons. Pure idiocy

  • Ari

    Parking in front of your own driveway is practically legal already.  And I agree with @qrt145:disqus that it a problem (assuming owners follow the other rules on that curb, like street cleaning, etc.).

  • Mark Walker

    Someone should break it to Vacca that the 2010 U.S. Census shows NYC with a more than 50 percent car-free majority.

  • Voter

    @qrt145:disqus there’s nothing wrong with blocking your own driveway in theory, but there are a couple of things wrong with giving this space to over to homeowners exclusively.

    1. The space in front of a driveway belongs to the city. It’s called the street. The city pays to pave it, to sweep it, and to plow it.  So this would be the ultimate in subsidized parking: we the taxpayers will be paying to maintain thousands of private parking spaces.

    2. In the case where a person has created an illegal curb cut to create parking on their property, the city would now be rewarding that behavior with…more parking.

    3.  No one wants the NYPD to be in the car-towing business, but the department would probably have to devote even more public resources than it already does to solving private property disputes between private car owners.  Right now most drivers know: no parking in front of driveways, even your own. Change that and you open up a lot of room for confusion.

    How discouraging that Jimmy Vacca can’t think one level deeper than just, “More parking!”

  • Anonymous

    A empty space in front of a driveway does no one any good just by sitting empty. I doubt that it improves safety, traffic, or helps the environment. Yes, it’s a “free” space, but you can address that via taxation (add a certain amount to the assessed value of properties with a driveway). And as for towing of cars in front of other people’s driveways, you can leave that to the private sector. Many places do it that way: it falls upon the owner of the driveway to call a private towing company, and the towing fees are charged to the car’s owner. No need to involve the police.

    The only reason I can think of for not allowing people to block their own driveway is simply to reduce the parking supply. But I think that’s taking it a bit too far.

    What I do oppose is blocking the sidewalk by parking on a driveway.

  • Anonymous

    How long before people start renting out the space in front of their driveway?

  • The parking-in-your-curb-cut bill is incredibly silly and selfish. Who gets to park in front of the curb cut — the person with the deed to the property? Anyone who lives there? Designated “friends of the homeowner”? I pity the people who have to enforce the new rules. 

    It’s just an invitation to let people think that they really do own a piece of the street. Once you do that, not only are you increasing the parking supply, you are sending a big signal that anyone with their own curb cut has even more special privileges. If this becomes law, watch the ensuing gold rush for curb cut applications and the mounting political pressure to loosen zoning restrictions on curb cuts.

    These people already have driveways. Park in your freakin’ driveway.

  • Joe R.

    @BenFried:disqus I can think of one plus to allowing people to park in the curb cut in front of their residence-when it’s occupied it’s one less place where you’ll have a car driving across the sidewalk. But yes, I tend to agree that this and the other proposals (relaxed double parking in front of schools/day care centers????) are so ridiculous it defies belief.

    Parking is a huge traffic generator. In some places fully have the traffic is just people cruising the streets for a free parking spot.

  • Joe R.

    @BenFried:disqus I can think of one plus to allowing people to park in the curb cut in front of their residence-when it’s occupied it’s one less place where you’ll have a car driving across the sidewalk. But yes, I tend to agree that this and the other proposals (relaxed double parking in front of schools/day care centers????) are so ridiculous it defies belief.

    Parking is a huge traffic generator. In some places fully have the traffic is just people cruising the streets for a free parking spot.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “The parking-in-your-curb-cut bill is incredibly silly and selfish.”
    Right.  In Bay Ridge and Windsor Terrace they went about banning curb cuts for this reason.  People put in a curb cut to “reserve” parking for themselves, then use the driveway/garage for something else.  Or their second car.

    Meanwhile, other DRIVERS are screwed.

  • Phil

    just one guys opinion here but:
    I live in Hoboken and you can park in front of “your own” curb cut. There don’t seem to be enforcement issues that I know about. Maybe some are rented out, I don’t see that as a bad thing either.
    However, every additional free and guaranteed spot of parking has a very significant social cost in terms of traffic, pollution, health/obesity, and accidents (externalities). Streetsblog has reported on research that shows that people with a free guaranteed parking spot at the end of their journey are much more likely to drive and not exercise (walk).
    Therefore, all curb cuts should be taxed significantly heavier than they are currently. This would discourage developers/owners from making them in the future and may even result in some being returned to the city, increasing the supply of shared parking (not as bad as private parking).
    Is anyone up for writing the draft bill for this new city tax?

  • Phil

    just one guys opinion here but:
    I live in Hoboken and you can park in front of “your own” curb cut. There don’t seem to be enforcement issues that I know about. Maybe some are rented out, I don’t see that as a bad thing either.
    However, every additional free and guaranteed spot of parking has a very significant social cost in terms of traffic, pollution, health/obesity, and accidents (externalities). Streetsblog has reported on research that shows that people with a free guaranteed parking spot at the end of their journey are much more likely to drive and not exercise (walk).
    Therefore, all curb cuts should be taxed significantly heavier than they are currently. This would discourage developers/owners from making them in the future and may even result in some being returned to the city, increasing the supply of shared parking (not as bad as private parking).
    Is anyone up for writing the draft bill for this new city tax?

  • Andrew

    @EricMcClure:disqus @twitter-951559544:disqus Here is the text of the bill (which doesn’t appear to address double parking at all):

    Int. No. 762 By Council Members Barron, James, Levin, Vann, Williams, Wills, Foster, Dromm, Reyna, Recchia, Dickens, Mark-Viverito, Gentile, Arroyo, Rivera and Rodriguez  A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to permissible standing near schools and child day care centers.  Be it enacted by the Council as follows:       Section 1.  Subchapter 2 of chapter one of title 19 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 19-175.4 to read as follows:      §19-175.4  Permissible standing near schools and day care centers.  (a) For purposes of this section, “child day care center” shall be defined as set forth in subdivision d of section 17-502 of this code.(b). Notwithstanding any provisions of this code or the rules of the city of New York, it shall be permissible for an individual to stand a motor vehicle with its engine off for up to five minutes against the curb immediately adjacent to any school or child day care center where such person operating the motor vehicle or a passenger in such motor vehicle is waiting for a person to enter or exit such school or child day care center.  This section shall not apply where movement of such vehicle is required by an on duty emergency service vehicle, nor shall this section apply to locations within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant.      §2.  This local law shall take effect immediately after its enactment into law.

  • Andrew

    @EricMcClure:disqus @twitter-951559544:disqus Here is the text of the bill (which doesn’t appear to address double parking at all):

    Int. No. 762 By Council Members Barron, James, Levin, Vann, Williams, Wills, Foster, Dromm, Reyna, Recchia, Dickens, Mark-Viverito, Gentile, Arroyo, Rivera and Rodriguez  A Local Law to amend the administrative code of the city of New York, in relation to permissible standing near schools and child day care centers.  Be it enacted by the Council as follows:       Section 1.  Subchapter 2 of chapter one of title 19 of the administrative code of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 19-175.4 to read as follows:      §19-175.4  Permissible standing near schools and day care centers.  (a) For purposes of this section, “child day care center” shall be defined as set forth in subdivision d of section 17-502 of this code.(b). Notwithstanding any provisions of this code or the rules of the city of New York, it shall be permissible for an individual to stand a motor vehicle with its engine off for up to five minutes against the curb immediately adjacent to any school or child day care center where such person operating the motor vehicle or a passenger in such motor vehicle is waiting for a person to enter or exit such school or child day care center.  This section shall not apply where movement of such vehicle is required by an on duty emergency service vehicle, nor shall this section apply to locations within fifteen feet of a fire hydrant.      §2.  This local law shall take effect immediately after its enactment into law.

  • Anonymous

    Time to rename it The Driving Committee and stop expecting anything else from these tools.

  • Anonymous

    @BenFried:disqus : I don’t have a car or a curb cut, but I’ve lived in places where parking in front of your curb cut was allowed (I’m not sure if by law or just de facto). And the answer to your questions is: yes, anyone who lives there or has the permission of anyone who lives there can park in front of the curb cut. If there is disagreement among the residents, they have to work it out the same way they work out the use of any common resources. Obviously this only works with small houses: you wouldn’t park in the curb cut to a 100-car garage!
    You don’t need to pity the enforcers because they don’t exist. In practice, the system works pretty well, and is often not used for permanent parking but for visitors, deliveries, or loading and unloading.I completely agree with market price for parking, and with getting rid of parking minimums or even instituting parking maximums for developments. I’d even agree with eliminating parking altogether on a given block, if it’s for a good reason, and if that’s the case, obviously I’d say that parking in front of the curb cuts in that block should be disallowed too. I’d also agree that if a curb cut is in a metered block, you’d have to pay the meter if you park at the curb cut. But I don’t agree with mandating that no one can park in front of the curb cut based on a slippery slope argument or an argument based on the psychological state of the homeowner. If you have a curb cut, you already “own” the space in front of it in the sense that no one else can park there so that *you* can traverse it. What difference does it make to everyone else if *you* park there? No difference, other than possibly causing parking envy. You are not getting on anyone’s way.

  • zach

    When you own a house you don’t own the street in front of your house. We
    all own that together, and you can rent it from us if you want. Charge a yearly fee for having a curb cut that is roughly equivalent to the cumulative meter fee for parking on that block, and put meters on every block in the City, even if in residential areas they only charge $1/24 hours.

  • Adam Anon

    So what’s the problem with parking in front of your own driveway? I don’t get it. Nobody can park there anyway so it’s not like I’m preventing someone from parking there anyway. There is no street cleaning and alternate parking days in many residential areas either so your car won’t get in the sweeper’s way. If you prevent people from parking in front of their driveway, they will park elsewhere and take a spot away from someone else. So what if they use the driveway for parking AND park another car in front? It still doesn’t make sense to prevent them from doing that because, again, they will have to park elsewhere. I really don’t see a problem here.

  • Here is the currently driveway law (as far as I can tell):

    “Standing or parking in front of a public or private driveway. The owner or renter of a lot accessed by a private driveway may park a passenger vehicle registered to him / her at that address in front of such driveway provided the lot does not contain more than 2 dwelling units and that such parking does not violate any other rule or restriction.”
    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dof/html/parking/park_tickets_violations.shtml

  • Anonymous

    The parking spots in driveways bill that Jimmy Vacca is proposing stands to, in one swoop, add probably hundreds of thousands or even millions of new free on-street parking spaces two New York City. Something that broad-ranging and likely to induce that much driving should absolutely have to undergo a full environmental review to evaluate it’s impact

  • krstrois

    I really don’t know how they will find a way to make it easier to idle in front of a school or daycare center. There is no current enforcement of this sort of double parking (of any double parking?). Maybe they’ll just let people drive up the stairs right into the lobby of the  school itself or park right on the sidewalks to clear up the roads. 

    What an enormous waste of time and money.  

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