Want a More ‘Civilized’ Parking Experience? Raise Meter Rates

A Times analysis of parking enforcement trends is raising the hackles of local pols, who see the rising number of citations as evidence supporting pet theories about traffic agent quotas:

City officials say their parking enforcement is not driven by revenue goals. But City Councilman Vincent J. Gentile said his district in southwest Brooklyn has been so overrun by traffic agents that it is hard to conclude otherwise.

"It's a growing recognition that the city is using parking enforcement as a means of revenue generation, not as a means of traffic management or safety management," he said.

City Council Transportation Committee chair John Liu went so far as to issue a press release calling on the city to scale back parking enforcement:

Liu said he and his fellow Transportation Committee members have worked to reduce unfair ticket writing, increase transparency in the world of parking enforcement and make parking in the city "a more predictable and civilized experience" through efforts like a bill that required DOT to post on its Website all parking restrictions for each block.

Here's another way to cut down on the number of citations for double-parking, blocking fire hydrants, and obstructing bus lanes: raise meter rates.

DOT is moving in this direction with its PARK Smart pilot program in Greenwich Village. Of course, higher meter rates would still raise revenue and depend on adequate enforcement to achieve the desired effect. This seems like a fair price to assess on vehicles that take up scarce public space and impose billions of dollars in costs on the population of New York. But if PARK Smart ramps up and expands to other parts of the city, will any New York pols be bold enough to recognize it as "civilized" parking practice, or will it, too, get branded as a cash cow?