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Justin Brannan

Brooklyn Pol’s Bill Would Prohibit Higher Parking Costs for SUVs

12:01 AM EST on February 14, 2022

He’s just looking out for the little guys in big cars.

A Brooklyn pol is under fire for proposing a new law that would prohibit commercial parking garages from charging more for SUVs than for compact cars — a bill that appears to be letting SUV drivers off the hook for the far greater impacts of their monstrous four-wheelers.

“Strong no on this. SUVs are lethal in an urban setting. We need to make them expensive to bring into the city at every opportunity,” Jehiah Czebotar wrote on Twitter, echoing many activists' concern about a bill introduced on Thursday by Council Member Justin Brannan, who represents car-friendly Bay Ridge.

Brannan's Intro 0009 has just one sentence: “This bill requires parking garages to charge the same rate for all light duty vehicles weighing 8,500 pounds or less, including sedans, vans, sports utility vehicles, and pick-up trucks.”

Brannan, who says the bill is a holdover from 2018 and that he just “automatically” reintroduced it without first tweaking the language, defended the legislation, telling Streetsblog on Friday that its intention is not to make it easier for those in Hummers and other assault vehicles to park in the city, but merely to address the issue of “price-gouging” based on a quick glance of a car's shape or model to determine its cost to park.

"The idea is not to give monster trucks a break from parking ... but about preventing garages from arbitrarily charging folks,” said Brannan.

For instance, Brannan said, what if someone is driving a Ford Escape, which weighs roughly 3,500 pounds. Why should that driver have to pay more to park a car in a garage than the owner of a BMW 7 series sedan, which can weigh up to 5,159 pounds?

Of course, it's not even a hypothetical question for Brannan ... who drives a Ford Explorer, he said.

“If you’re parking a gigantic monster truck tank, the price should be certainly prohibitive," Brannan said. "But driving a compact SUV, like a lot of people drive, the price is just not fair. The idea is to make it fair for people who choose to drive."

Of course, one man's fairness is another man's carnage, given that SUV's cause a disproportionate amount of injuries and death. As Streetsblog reported last month, the share of pedestrians killed by behemoth-like cars is up 42 percent compared to 2014, contributing to the bloodshed and record-shattering number of fatalities on city streets in years. (The same trend is happening nationally as SUVs become the largest segment of the auto market.)

The very same day Brannan introduced his bill to make things more fair for drivers, a woman behind the wheel of an SUV slammed into a 10-year-girl on the sidewalk in Queens, killing the girl and injuring another woman.

The real issue Brannan should tackle, advocates say, is not so-called “price-gouging" in parking garages, but traffic violence, and helping to break the city's car culture, not emboldening it.

“However well intentioned, this is just a bad bill from Council Member Brannan," said StreetsPAC's Eric McClure. "Mandating that a garage must charge someone the same amount whether they’re parking a 13-foot-long, 3,000-pound Mini or a 20-foot-long, 7,500-pound Ford F350 just doesn’t make any sense. We don’t insist that storage facilities charge the same for a four-foot-by-eight-foot unit as a 10-by-20 unit, or that landlords have to charge the same rent for a studio or a two-bedroom. We shouldn’t be bending over backwards to further subsidize someone’s choice to drive an SUV or pickup truck in New York City. We hope that Council Member Brannan will shelve this bill.”

Brannan does not intend to shelve it, but admitted to Streetsblog that the bill needs to be rewritten and fully fleshed out.

“If we decide to move forward with other drafts of this one, we will make it more clear," he said. "The language in the bill is basically not what I wanted.”

In addition to his defense of the bill, Brannan also pointed to another of his bills that would require that 40 percent of all parking spaces in existing garages and open lots be capable of supporting electric vehicle charging stations by 2030. That 2018 bill had massive support in the Council. It was reintroduced late in 2021 and hasn't been taken up yet.

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