Ydanis Rodriguez Bill Would Let NYC’s Press Corps Park for Free

City Council Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez thinks the city’s press corps needs a special break: He’s proposing legislation that would exempt drivers with press plates from paying at meters or obeying time limits.

“The news business should have the same privileges as every other business,” Rodriguez said in a release before today’s City Hall press conference, wrongly implying that every other business in New York gets a free parking pass.

Rodriguez, who said today that he hoped the bill would gain the support of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and expressed confidence that it would garner a veto-proof majority, was joined this morning by fellow council members Laurie Cumbo, Daniel Dromm, and Corey Johnson.

I asked Rodriguez if he would give up his parking placard, like State Senator Tony Avella does each year. “I believe that having placard parking is important,” Rodriguez said, saying it came in handy when he drove to the scene of the East Harlem building explosion last year. “I believe that having a parking placard, as other people have — teachers have it, police officers have it, council members have it — people from the media should also have it.”

The legislation would not actually give parking placards to the media, but would exempt them from meters and time limits. (Currently, press plates give special parking privileges in areas marked for NYP plates, typically near courthouses and other government buildings.) As part of its crackdown on parking abuse, the Bloomberg administration eliminated this perk for the city’s press in 2009. Governor Cuomo also cut down on placards around the same time.

The New York Press Photographers Association has been leading the charge to restore this privilege. Association board member Robert Roth said the de Blasio administration has not set up a meeting to discuss a change in policy, despite multiple requests — which is why the association turned to the City Council.

The press parking giveaway is the latest in a string of questionable moves by Rodriguez, who reappointed a notorious street safety opponent to Manhattan Community Board 12, proposed a massive taxpayer-funded bailout of taxi medallion owners, and supports legislation to address the non-existent problem of texting cyclists.

The press is already among the city’s most flagrant parking violators. Press vehicles regularly park on the sidewalk — without receiving tickets — near courthouses in Lower Manhattan, a practice Roth did not endorse. Roth didn’t have any information on how many tickets NYPD issues to press vehicles each year.

Matthew Chayes of Newsday asked Rodriguez if he was worried about the potential for abuse by members of the media who would park for free at meters while on personal business. “We have to legislate knowing that we are working with an adult population. People are responsible,” Rodriguez said. “We are legislating what we believe is the right thing for the city.”

  • Matthew Chayes of Newsday asked Rodriguez if he was worried about the
    potential for abuse by members of the media who would park for free at
    meters while on personal business. “We have to legislate knowing that we
    are working with an adult population. People are responsible,”
    Rodriguez said. “We are legislating what we believe is the right thing
    for the city.”

    Did Ydanis just move to New York City yesterday? Did he say this with a straight face?

  • I’m a member of the press and I don’t own a car. I use a bicycle to get to and from appointments around the city. This came in particularly useful after Superstorm Sandy, when fuel was in short supply and the roads were clogged with traffic. While things are clearly different for TV crews that need to lug around loads of camera equipment, I’d suggest that most reporters could get around more quickly and easily in the city if they followed my lead.

  • Brendan A. MacWade

    Wouldn’t that just open the door to fraudulent “NYP” plates? And furthermore, coming one what I can describe lightly as one of the most corrupt parts of Manhattan (which is also my part), this is quite laughable. Inwood is an undervalued neighborhood dominated by nouveau-riche Dominican-Americans, and populated by hundreds of car owners who drive around endlessly looking for a parking space. Great idea, Senator. You suck.

  • Morris Zapp

    I love the “transparency” b.s.

    “Damn it boss, I could blow this government scandal wide open if only I didn’t have to feed the meter!”

    What a joke.

  • ahwr

    Wouldn’t that just open the door to fraudulent “NYP” plates?

    If I have a blog I haven’t posted to in sixth months can I get unlimited free parking?

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    I hate to say it, but just as we can’t remove those newspaper boxes:

    “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom
    … of the press”

    I am in favor of 100% ticketing every car placard or no and then let the recipients explain why the ticket shouldn’t stand.

  • BBnet3000

    Is Ydanis Rodriguez too stupid to understand the meaning of “free press”?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratis_versus_libre

  • MtotheI

    You know…GOOD. If the press are now legally allowed to park in legit parking spaces without paying then I will expect to no longer see press vehicles parked in the Centre St/Park Row bike lane outside of City f’ing Hall or on the sidewalk anywhere in this city. And, I expect that Councilmember Rodriguez will personally see that any press vehicle that now has the ability to park in any legal parking space will see to it that any illegally parked media vehicles will be ticketed and forced to move.

    I look forward to a clear City Hall bike lane once this bill is passed!

  • Kevin Love

    For TV crews that need to lug around loads of camera equipment, there exist cargo bicycles.

  • Political pandering at its worst.

  • Emmily_Litella

    So he’s just another politician after all.

  • Greg Costikyan

    Minicams are not particularly heavy or bulky. A TV reporter could easily carry one on a bike.

  • Roger87

    “Press” didn’t even refer to journalism in the 18th century. It just meant printing press. Free speech = spoken word, free press = written word.

  • AlexWithAK

    Professional TV gear is more than just a small camera. You need lights and sound equipment, etc. I’ve worked in video and lugging gear can be a real challenge, so I totally understand the need for a vehicle in some cases. That said, there’s no need to give the press blanket parking powers anywhere they go. They can pay the meter or for a garage. It’s called a cost of doing business.

  • Todd maisel, vp nyppa

    Parking for press is “while on assignment only,” not for any time they want to park. The bill says it. A free and unfettered press is necessary to cover the news. Unlike reporters who need only their cell phone to record, photographers and television carry hundreds of pounds of gear and cannot park blocks from assignments. Right now, joe the plumber has more rights than we do.

  • Walt W.

    As I read this the bill allows free parking in metered spaces. How does that necessarily get you closer to assignments?

    Unless the plan is to abuse the privilege by parking wherever you want, which Council Member Rodriguez assures us won’t be the case.

    Please explain how this bill would make it easier for you to find parking.

  • Um no. Joe the Plumber doesn’t get free parking.

  • Reader

    What you need is not “free” parking, but “convenient” parking. “Free” does not equal “convenient.” In fact, the opposite is generally true. The NYPPA should be arguing for progressive parking policies and loading zones that would make the likelihood of finding a parking space close to one’s destination easier.

    A free and unfettered press is necessary to cover the news, yes. But it does not stand to reason that the government has to give you free parking to do your job. Would you argue that without government-sponsored pads, pens, and cameras, reporters could not do their jobs? Nothing stops crews from unloading close to the assignment and then having a driver look for parking. Nothing stops you from, say, leaving early as Joe the Plumber probably has to do if he wants a parking spot.

    And if you think that reporters and producers won’t abuse this privilege for far beyond the time they need to cover their assignment, then I have a parking space in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.

    Call this what it is: a giveaway to the press from a politician looking for good coverage.

  • c2check

    In most parts of New York, he does, actually.

    (Parking reform now! )

  • Menachem Goldstein

    Why don’t we create a class system for parking where we are clear about which professions are more important than others and should be entitled to free parking?

  • Larry Littlefield

    Indeed, that would be “progressive” as the word has come to be defined in New York.

    Whereas that capitalist Bloomberg wanted to ration pricing by whoever was willing to pay for it (variable pricing on streets), we now have proposals to ration parking by political connections. Isn’t that “fairness?”

  • chekpeds

    Next thing you know, press will be exempt from the right of way law, because they provide a service : rushing to catch a glimpse of kim Kardashian..

  • Brendan A. MacWade

    Ouch. For the record, I have a garage. I stay off the streets of Inwood.

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