Parking tickets way down Downtown


By J.B. Nicholas

New York City’s deficit is the largest in years, yet city traffic agents issued far fewer parking tickets last year than they did in 2007. In all, millions of dollars in revenue may have been lost.

In one area of Downtown Manhattan, for example, the West Village, the number of tickets issued was down 29 percent, from 19,859 in 2007 to 14,105 last year. Parking tickets range from $65 to $105, so, assuming an average of $85 per ticket, that’s $489,090 less revenue — not counting towing or other fees that may be associated with a violation — in the West Village’s Sixth Precinct alone.

“How is Bloomberg letting them get away with that?” asked Wazim Aziz, 30, who was idling his car on First Ave. on Monday morning when told of the dramatic decreases. “I can’t believe it, though — I’ve gotten several tickets down here in the last year,” he said.

The numbers were provided by a source familiar with the information, who spoke on condition of anonymity. They come from a year-end compilation of police statistics known as CompStat, short for “computer statistics.”

Besides the West Village, most other areas of Lower Manhattan showed similar significant decreases in the amount of parking tickets issued, as well. The Lower East Side’s Seventh Precinct saw a steep drop-off of 24 percent, down from 16,618 tickets issued in 2007, to 12,606 in 2008, followed by the 10th Precinct, covering Chelsea, down 22 percent, from 22,176 tickets in 2007 to 17,283 last year.

Not all Downtown parkers have cause for celebration, however. Two of the heaviest ticketed areas in Lower Manhattan, the First and Fifth Precincts, saw minimal increases of less than 1 percent. The First, which includes City Hall, the Financial District, Tribeca, the Seaport and Soho, went from 32,229 tickets in 2007 to 32,430 last year. The Fifth, which covers Chinatown and Police Plaza, went from 20,020 to 20,114.

The East Village, covered by the Ninth Precinct, saw a slide, but compared to some other Downtown areas, the reduction was modest, only 14 percent, down to 25,540 parking tickets in 2008 from 29,695 in 2007.

News of the overall reductions was greeted with broad approval across Downtown this week. 

“I’m really happy about it,” said Bill, 46, an East Village resident moving two cars on Monday morning in order to comply with alternate-side-of-the-street-parking regulations.

Sayed Haque, 44, a Queens resident who works in the East Village, expressed far more than mere happiness; he was relieved at the prospect of having less interaction with traffic agents and police officers.

“They’re really aggressive,” Haque said of the parking enforcement agents. “And the cops — forget it. I’m afraid of getting shot by them sometimes. I’m very happy tickets are down.”

This trend toward fewer parking tickets was consistent with citywide numbers that saw a plunge in the total amount of tickets across the five boroughs, from 1,639,368 in 2007 to 1,437,438 last year, a 12.3 percent fall-off.

On Monday at 10 a.m., a reporter visited the Traffic Control Division garage on Essex St. between Delancey and Rivington Sts. He observed parking spots marked for eight cars — and four cars, half of the fleet, were still parked in the garage.

Asked to explain why fewer parking tickets were being issued overall, a Police Department spokesperson referred questions to the Department of Finance, which did not comment.