Brannan Shelves Bill That Would Forbid Charging SUV Owners More to Park

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Brooklyn Council Member Justin Brannan on Monday withdrew his controversial legislation that would have prohibited commercial parking garages from charging more for SUVs than for compact cars — after it landed him in hot water with safe-streets advocates, who said the one-sentence legislation failed to acknowledge the dangerous, and often deadly impacts of such monstrous four-wheelers in the city.

Brannan, who represents car-friendly Bay Ridge, introduced the one-sentence bill, Intro 0009, on Feb. 10: “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.” But hours after Streetsblog posted its story on the bill, Brannan 86’d it entirely, citing again what he said was misleading language.

“I agree with what the advocates are saying, based on the language on that bill. The language as introduced did not reflect what I was after. We withdrew it to amend it,” said Brannan.

Brannan, who told Streetsblog last week that the bill was a holdover from 2018 and that he just “automatically” reintroduced it without first tweaking the language, at first defended the legislation, saying initially that its intention was not to make it easier for owners of Hummers and other assault vehicles to park in the city, but merely to address the issue of alleged “price-gouging” based on a quick glance of a car’s shape or model to determine its cost to park.

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? (Unhypothetically, Brannan drives a Ford Escape.)

Brannan could not say on Monday how he plans to alter the language, or when he plans to reintroduce the bill.

“What I’m trying to do is get away from the arbitrary charging of vehicles,” said Brannan. “If a vehicle is gigantic and heavy, it should be charged more, and there should be a mechanism for what we’re charging folks — not just eyeballing it.”

The very same day Brannan introduced the bill last week, 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. And Streetsblog has reported on the disproportionate amount of injuries and death caused by SUVs — 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.)

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