City Council Members: Down With Parking Enforcement

council_members_rip.jpgCouncilmen Weprin, Felder, and Gentile protest the injustice of enforcing the law. Photo: Daily Politics
Sick of walking around cars parked on the sidewalk? Fed up with the excessive traffic cruising for parking spots in your neighborhood? Tough luck. A gaggle of City Council members has got nothing for you, but they do want to ease up on the car owners who contribute to these problems.

A new bill has surfaced that would tack on a five-minute "grace period" to time restrictions on parking spots. It would codify the contention of a certain class of New Yorkers who believe the law doesn't really apply to drivers.

The anti-enforcement contingent behind the bill includes Vincent Gentile and Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, David Weprin of Queens, and James Vacca of the Bronx. Who are the people these elected representatives are sticking up for? The Daily News, in a story that openly cheers for the new bill to take effect, tells us about one driver who would love some extra time to drop off her pet for a doggie manicure:

Meryl Blackman, 57, a Realtor in Brooklyn Heights, says she needs even more time to unload her dog. She admits leaving her SUV in no-parking zones to deal with the pooch.

"A five-minute grace period is great, but we need more time," she said. "Ten to 15 would be fabulous. It would make the quality of life so much better."

Give 'em five minutes, they'll take an hour. I can already hear the whining about getting a ticket just after the "grace period" expires.

According to the Times, Council Speaker Christine Quinn has not taken a position on the bill, nor has transportation committee chair John Liu, whose support for other bills that let drivers off the hook has apparently given the lax enforcement movement some momentum.

Parking violators have something of a champion in Gentile, who wants to see enforcement relaxed all over his borough:

"We're under siege," he said. "It's high time for this mayor, who wants to get reelected, to ... step in and say cut it out, enforce the law in a reasonable manner."

Gentile may be getting a few calls from constituents (like the fellow who demands the untrammeled right to block the sidewalk because he has a curb-cutting driveway), but his so-called "slew" of ticketing is a mirage. Another story in today's Daily News reveals that parking tickets declined city-wide by a full 11.5 percent last year.

I don't usually get into New Year's resolutions, but there's one I'm considering for 2009. Every time I see someone double-park, overstay the allotted time at a meter, run a red light, pull an illegal U-turn, or speed like a maniac down the street where I live -- and not get a ticket -- I'm going to call my Council member.