Hey, I'm Parking Here

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - 06:05 PM

New York City Council Member Jimmy Vacca (2nd from right.) Photo by Kate Hinds

The New York City Council Transportation Committee met Wednesday to discuss a slate of bills designed to make life easier for New Yorkers who park.

Three bills are under consideration: Int. 762 would make it easier for vehicles to stand near a school or day care center; Int. 527 would require the DOT to post notice of permanent street sign changes that affect parking, and Int. 824 would make it expressly legal for homeowners to park in front of their own driveways -- something committee chair Jimmy Vacca called "a simple bill -- quite frankly, it should be a no-brainer."

That last idea didn't fly with Kate Slevin, the New York City Department of Transportation Assistant Commissioner testifying on behalf of the NYC DOT.

"It's unclear what issue the bill attempts to address," she said, adding it was "particularly troubling" that the bill, as written, could effectively provide 'blanket forgiveness" for a variety of parking violations.

Slevin also said the DOT wouldn't support the other two bills. The no-standing regulations near schools, she said, are necessary to protect children. And as for posting advance notice for permanent parking sign changes: Slevin said the DOT maintains over 1.3 million signs -- of which 20 percent are devoted to parking. Providing advance notice, she said, would "essentially double the workload" of staff people who change signage, which would result in increased costs.

Rather than debate if people should read signs, or signs about signs, the hearing first focused on a topic not on the agenda: prices, specifically an already-rescinded rate increase notice the DOT had sent out to people who use municipal parking facilities.

Jimmy Vacca, reading from the letter, said "Effective January 1st, the City Council has approved rate increases for all New York City DOT municipal parking facilities."

"This City Council never approved any rate increase," Vacca said, adding that the same letter had been sent out last year. "This is two years in a row that this is a mistake."

He took the occasion to argue for more Council control over parking regulations, and said he wanted the City Council to be brought in as a partner when it comes to parking rate increases -- not an afterthought. "I don't appreciate agencies telling me what they're going to do, after they've decided what they're going to do."

The often-tense hearing did deliver some choice exchanges that reveal a persistent tension in city transportation planning.

"What do people do who have cars in this city?" Vacca wanted to know.

"Well, luckily for us, we have a wonderful transportation system," said Slevin, "and less than 50 percent of the households in New York City own cars, so there's a lot of other options people use to get around town."

This did not placate Vacca.

"Some people who live in boroughs outside Manhattan do need a car," snapped Vacca. "I hate to break that to DOT. Some people who do not live in Manhattan, especially, need a car. We do not have mass transit options that you think we have, or that we should have."

Slevin told him the new municipal parking lot rates were going into effect in February 2013.




Comments [7]

Diamond Joe

I take serious issue with the councilman's description of the car as a necessity, when less than one lifetime ago hardly anyone in New York City had one and the city had basically the same transit system it does today. Take a look at a city bus map. You'd be very hard pressed to find any area of the city that is more than a 10-minute walk from a bus line, not to mention subways, taxis, and biking as other options. Most people don't NEED cars, they just prefer them and have gotten accustomed to them. But car ownership and driving is NOT something we should be looking to encourage here. There is enough traffic and pollution already

Dec. 06 2012 12:14 PM

Ridiculous. Doesn't Jimmy Vacca have anything better to do? I have a daughter who attends a local school and crossing the street is unsafe due to all of the selfish drivers double parking.

Mr. Vacca, please come with me one day as I walk my daughter to school. Maybe you'll change your focus to matters of real safety.

Dec. 06 2012 09:54 AM
Steve F

My son bicycled to Brooklyn Tech. The only bike crash he had was when he was doored by a student opening a car door after his rushing mother drove her car to close and too fast as my son approached the school. She deliberately cut in front the cyclist just to save herself a few seconds, guaranteeing he would be hit by the opening door.

These giant SUVs double parked in front of every school make crossing the street by kids and parents and every other pedestrian and cyclist in the neighborhood a hazard.

Neighborhood schools? Then why do all these people need to drive in? Do they all have phony addresses out of district but drive in every day?

Enforce a ban on double parking around schools, not encourage it; have any drop-off and waiting areas at least a block away from the schools.

Dec. 05 2012 11:54 PM

James Vacca is intolerable. He seems to view drivers in this city as some sort of underprivileged group when in fact they enjoy huge benefits at the expense of pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. This in spite of the fact that they make up a minority of city residents. And even many of those who do own cars (myself included) only use them sparingly and not for commuting. Vacca needs to get a clue.

Dec. 05 2012 11:07 PM

Every single day I drop off my kids at school, there is a school bus stuck behind double parked cars. This makes the kids on the bus late. This makes the cars behind the bus, which is now having to let kids off in the middle of the street about 100 yards away from the entrance of school honk. This puts the kids in danger, every single day.
Sometimes we have parent volunteers that can stand outside with cones waving people on so the bus can get through. But often, the double parking parents just stop and park anyway, some have even driven over the cones.
This happens every morning, and it is illegal, dangerous and unhealthy. Why should this behavior be made legal?

Dec. 05 2012 11:02 PM

Let's just rename the NYC City Council's Transportation Committee the Driving Committee and then everything will make perfect sense. The rest of us can go suck an egg.

Dec. 05 2012 10:36 PM

As a parent of a young child in daycare, I can assure you that the LAST thing I need is more drivers double parking near her daycare, blocking crosswalks, making it impossible for us to be seen as we try to cross the street. This is INSANITY, James Vacca. Shame on you.

Dec. 05 2012 09:18 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.