Quinn’s Top Transpo Priority in 2011: Convenience For Car Owners

City Council Speaker made increasing the convenience of on-street parking a top priority in this year's State of the City. Photo: City Council

In her State of the City address this afternoon, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn laid out her priorities for the year ahead. Her speech focused on four issue areas: balancing the city budget, creating jobs, preserving affordable housing and parking.

Quinn’s parking platform isn’t aimed at making parking cheaper or more plentiful — though she’s taken action on that front recently — so much as eliminating some of the inconveniences car owners face when they park on public streets. To that end, she’s drawing on ideas like Brad Lander’s call to reduce the number of alternate side parking days on the city’s cleanest streets.

While the Council seems poised to advance important bills opening up data on traffic safety, Quinn’s transportation platform for the year only provides benefits to a privileged minority of New Yorkers. In a high-profile moment as she gears up for a 2013 mayoral run, Quinn offered nothing to the 54 percent of households which don’t own a car.

The parking related section of Quinn’s prepared remarks is excerpted below:

We’ve taken on everything from potholes to bedbugs, noise complaints to stalled construction sites. This year we’ll focus on an issue that plagues New Yorkers in many neighborhoods – parking.

Look, we still want to get more folks out of their cars and onto public transit. But for families in many neighborhoods, that’s simply not an option. So under the leadership of Transportation Committee Chair Jimmy Vacca, we’ll pass a package of legislation to make their lives a little easier.

First, we’ll take simple steps to free up additional parking space. For example, many blocks have more than one day of alternate side parking restrictions. Cars have to clear the way for street sweepers, even if the street isn’t dirty. We’ll change the law, so areas that receive the highest cleanliness rating for two years in a row will have the option of one less day of alternate side.

We’ll also help you find out where you can and can’t park – before you get a ticket. We’ll pass legislation sponsored by Council Member Dan Garodnick creating an interactive online map. It’ll show what blocks are closed for filming, construction, or street fairs – and where parkingrules have temporarily changed.

Making it easier to park is only part of the equation. We’re also going to take on drivers’ biggest complaint – unfair tickets. Ticketing is supposed to help us enforce the law – not help the city make a quick buck. But almost every New Yorker has a story about getting tickets they clearly didn’t deserve.

Here’s one that’s especially infuriating. Have you ever parked your car, then gone to the munimeter to pay – only to come back and find an agent is writing you a ticket? And when you complain, they say they’re not allowed to cancel a ticket once they started writing it – and you’ll have to fight it in court.

This is bureaucratic red tape at its absolute worst – the stuff that makes New Yorkers think government is just out to nickel and dime them. We’re going to pass a bill sponsored by Council Member Jim Gennaro, so if you show your receipt to the agent, they have to tear up your ticket on the spot.

These problems may seem small – after all, searching for a parking spot can be frustrating, but it’s hardly a matter of life and death.

But when you stop to think about it, you realize most problems seem small – until they happen to you.

A 65 dollar parking ticket seems like a small problem – until it makes you 65 dollars short on the rent.