Council set to ease parking regs, over mayor's objections
Reacting to outrage over a perceived ticket blitz, the City Council will vote Monday to ease several parking restrictions, setting up a showdown with Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“This is a message to the mayor that we won't tolerate over-aggressive traffic agents,” said Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria).
One measure would create a five-minute grace period for alternate side of the street parking and muni meters, while another would expand the number of clergy members who qualify for parking permits.
Bloomberg is expected to veto both bills, though council sources say there are plenty of votes to override him.
Two other bills would require the city to give written notification before changing parking rules and wait 30 days before changing meter rates. Bloomberg will likely sign those into law.
Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), who sponsored the grace period bill, said 10 percent of alternate side tickets - about 300,000 annually - are given within five minutes of the cut-off, which he said shows the city is using parking laws simply to raise revenue.
“That's a tax, not a ticket,” he said. “For somebody who's eking out a living and gets a ticket for $100, you're literally taking away a day's pay.”
He said traffic agents were once told to give a five-minute grace period but that ended under Bloomberg.
Earlier this year, the mayor said such a law would be a slippery slope and could lead to the city having “absolutely no ability to collect parking meter payments” or clean the streets.
Vallone said traffic agents' behavior forced the council's hand.
“These bills are an attempt to legislate common sense and discretion,” he said.
Vallone's office is also writing a bill that would protect drivers from double-parking tickets if they are waiting to pull into a spot that someone else is leaving - a problem he has heard about from constituents.
Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), chair of the Transportation Committee, said the clergy bill will even the playing field between large and small institutions by allowing religious leaders to get permits for their own cars - as opposed to only cars owned by the house of worship - and including clergy members who are part-time.
“That legislation was a result of numerous complaints from churches leaders and congregations,” he said.