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Tuesday’s Headlines: Trouble in Mayberry Edition

Free illegal parking.

It's kind of a funny story.


At 10:57 a.m. yesterday, our old man editor disconnected his nose from the grindstone to get a cup of coffee. Once outside, he noticed a big Ford SUV blocking a pedestrian ramp in front of a kid's medical center in his neighborhood. Normally, our old man doesn't like to wage war with his neighbors, even the scofflaws, but something about blocking a ramp at a corner where lots of parents are pushing strollers stuck in his hirsute craw. (Not to mention that the car has accrued 11 tickets for illegal parking, and one for speeding in a school zone, since Oct. 25!)

So he reported the car to 311.

That generated the standard email that the NYPD was on the case and would notify him when the service request "has been updated." It was a sunny day, so he waited.

Exactly 20 minutes later, his phone rang. It was a sergeant at the 72nd Precinct who wanted to know — sincerely, we believe — whether the car was still illegally parked. When told it was, the sergeant said he'd send a car right over.

Ugh. To get a ticket on a dangerously illegally parked car, two cops from a station house 40 blocks away have to get in their car, drive over, and make it there in time before the scofflaw driver departs.

Which is, of course, what happened. At 11:23, the illegally parked driver pulled out (using an illegal maneuver, no less). And at 11:55, the sergeant called again to say that the officers had been delayed by "an emergency" and would be heading over now. Our old man told them not to bother because the driver had left.

So what did we learn?

    • Wow, this is a flawed system.
    • There has to be a better way to enforce dangerously parked vehicles than having members of the public remain on the scene for 20 minutes — and then another 40 minutes — to update police on the status of the complaint.
    • Indeed, if it's going to take so long for a cop to respond to a dangerously parked vehicle, wouldn't it be more efficient if people could update their 311 calls in the event that the driver moves?
    • Even more efficient: The Council needs to pass a bill that then-Council Member Steve Levin proposed last year to allow residents to report scofflaw drivers themselves and then pocket a bit of the summons money (as the city does with "Billy Never Idles" offenses). The bill didn't pass before Levin left office, but his successor, Lincoln Restler, told our own Julianne Cuba on Monday that the bill is a priority for him, and he resubmitted it to Speaker Adrienne Adams, who will assign it to him or another member.

In other news from a reasonably busy day:

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