Who ever said New Yorkers don't have compassion?
The City Council passed a bill today allowing a five-minute grace period on expired meters in certain zones, with a vote of 47 to 2. The overwhelming support means the Council will have the 34 votes needed to override Mayor Bloomberg's promised veto.
Too many people are slapped with "gotcha tickets," issued just a minute or two after the meter expires, City Councilman Simcha Felder, the bill's sponsor, said.
"People come to meetings five minutes late and that's considered punctual or even early these days," Felder said. "Why are you ticketing people one minute after the limit?"
New York City issued nearly 94.4 million parking tickets in fiscal year 2009, generating $560 million. That's down slightly from about 9.95 million the previous year, which brought in $590 million.
Earlier today, Bloomberg criticized the bill for its basis on the loosely defined concept of compassion.
If there is a demand for an extra five minutes of parking time, meters could offer a purchase time of 65 minutes, instead of the usual 60, Bloomberg proposed, according to the New York Times City Blog. "But that 60 minutes and a grace period doesn't make any sense to anybody."
Chairman of City Council's Transportation Committee, John Liu, tried to explain at a February committee meeting that the bill is less about five minutes than it is about humanity.
"Just don't issue these tickets so quickly," he said. "It is not wrong to have a heart and not get people at the exact moment."
But the Mayor imagines such a vague idea could lead to "chaos."
"Whose watch are you going to use?" he asked. "I think something that is explicit, so there are no arguments, is in everyone's interest."