Also Votes to Improve Notification Procedures for Parking Restriction Changes Around the Five Boroughs

City Hall, November 16, 2009 – At today’s Stated Council meeting, the City Council will vote on several pieces of legislation to improve parking rules and regulations around the five boroughs. Specifically, the Council will vote to adopt legislation that will:
• Create a five minute grace period for alternate side parking and muni-meter violations;
• Improve notification about temporary and permanent changes in parking restrictions;
• Improve DOT notification about various parking meter changes; and
• Update parking permit rules for members of the clergy.

The Council will also vote to approve the construction of a new police academy in Queens’ College Point as well vote on a comprehensive environmental protection resolution in support of a variety of actions to protect New York City’s water supply from the dangers of natural gas drilling.

Responding to many New Yorker’s frustration with parking tickets being issued so close to the time that a parking violation occurs, the Council will vote to create a five minute grace period for New Yorkers who violate metered or alternate side parking restrictions. In FY 2008, the City issued close to 10 million parking tickets; of these tickets, 28,000 were issued at the exact moment that alternate side parking restrictions went into effect and 276,000 were issued within five minutes of alternate side parking going into effect. To address these types of infractions, the City used to have an informal grace period policy but this policy was subsequently eliminated. This legislation would take effect 90 days after being signed into law.

“Taken together, these parking bills will make parking around our city both clearer and fairer for all New York City drivers,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn.

“Tickets should only be issued to promote compliance,” said Council Member Felder. Anyone with common sense and decency understands the need for a five-minute grace period to eliminate ‘Gotcha tickets.’”

To minimize confusion surrounding often times complicated parking rules, the Council will vote to require notice before certain permanent and temporary parking restrictions go into effect. With limited curbside parking and many confusing parking restrictions, parking in New York City can be very challenging. Adding to this confusion are parking restriction changes, both permanent and temporary, that may happen for reasons such as parades, filming, road repairs or permanent parking restriction changes prompted by DOT.

Specifically, this bill would:
• Allow motorists who receive parking tickets for violating newly implemented parking regulations within five days of the regulations going into effect to defend their ticket in traffic court;
• Require DOT to post parking change notices immediately when doing road repair work and provide information on how to retrieve towed vehicles;
• Require someone who gets a permit for temporary parking restriction changes from the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting to post parking change notices immediately and provide information on how to retrieve towed vehicles;
• Require the sponsor of a planned event, such as a street fair or parade, to post notice of parking restriction changes on a form provided by the Mayor’s office at least seven days before the parking restrictions take effect.

This legislation would take effect 90 days after being signed into law.

“It is unreasonable for the City to change parking regulations and restrictions without letting the public know first,” said Council Member Simcha Felder. “Simple notification would ensure that drivers park safely and would reduce the number of unfair parking tickets.”

In conjunction with various parking meter changes being made by the Department of Transportation (DOT) throughout the City, the Council will require DOT to provide 30 days written notice when changes to parking meter rates or parking meter types are made. Specifically, DOT will now be required to notify communities through regular mail, electronic mail, and through DOT’s website. Parking meter changes include increasing meter rates, implementing new “Park Smart” pilot programs, and replacing single coin meters with muni-meters. Many times, these changes are made with little or no notice to the community affected by the change. This local legislation would take effect immediately after enacted into law.

“Local communities are going to get the heads up they deserve when it comes to how some of the rules of the road are changed by the Department of Transportation,” said Council Member Vincent Gentile. “When rates change on meters, for example, drivers won’t find out with an orange ticket on their windshield – they’ll know it’s coming long beforehand. Thank you to Speaker Quinn for making addressing the concerns of drivers a priority by supporting this bill.”

To address clergy concerns about parking permits, the Council will vote to fix inequities in obtaining and using clergy parking permits. Specifically, new changes will allow clergy members with parking permits to park for up to five hours near their place of worship, allow vehicles registered in any state to qualify for permits, and allow vehicles associated with a religious group which employs the clergy member to qualify for permits. Additionally, qualifying clergy members must work an average of 20 hours per week to qualify as a member of the clergy.

“I am so glad to see this bill finally come to a vote and look forward to having it make life easier for the many spiritual leaders from all religions who will now be able to serve their faithful without having to worry about running out to feed the meter in the midst of a sick visit or funeral service,” said Council Member Robert Jackson. “This law will especially benefit the many small houses of worship that are such an important part of our communities. I am particularly grateful to Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, the constituent whose suggestions led me to initiate this legislation.”

The Council will vote to approve the construction of a new, state-of-the-art training academy for the New York City Police Department. This current outdated training academy located on East 20th Street in Manhattan will be relocated and updated so that officers will receive the best training both as recruits and in-service officers. Located in Queens’ College Point neighborhood, this new facility will be able to train up to 1,900 recruits at one time and will include specialty training as well as a relocation of the target practice range, the rifle training unit, and the driving course. Presently located in downtown Manhattan, the Police Museum will be enlarged and relocated to this site.

The Council will vote on an environmental protection resolution supporting a variety of actions to protect New York City’s water supply from the dangers of natural gas drilling. Specifically, the resolution calls for a prohibition of any drilling within the boundaries of the New York City watershed. The resolution also calls on the federal government to regulate the practice of hydraulic fracturing in order to give greater protection to water supplies everywhere from this process and calls on the State government to take a more proactive stance in protecting water supplies from the impacts of drilling.

The Catskill/Delaware watershed, which supplies 90% of the City’s water, lies above natural gas reserves that can be accessed using the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing. The process would involve pumping millions of gallons of water, combined with a mixture of chemicals, some of which are toxic or carcinogenic, into each well in order to free the natural gas. It is possible that some of these materials could migrate into groundwater, and any accidents during drilling operations or during the transportation, storage, or disposal of the fluids could lead to contamination of surface waters that are part of New York City’s unfiltered drinking water supply. Should New York City’s water supply become contaminated, the City would be required to build a filtration plant at a cost of at least $10 billion; such a plant would not be guaranteed to remove all contaminants that are present in drilling fluids, and any contamination could present a grave public health risk.

“History has shown us the consequences of putting the acquisition of fossil fuels ahead of environmental concerns,” said Speaker Quinn. “We simply cannot afford to jeopardize the health and financial well being of New Yorkers by allowing the natural gas industry to undertake large-scale development in the Catskill and Delaware watershed; the assurance of clean, safe and reasonably priced drinking water for millions must take precedence over the desires of the gas industry to drill in areas whose protection is necessary to safeguard our public water supply for future generations of New Yorkers.”

“This resolution represents the voice of 9 million people and their staunch declaration against natural gas drilling in their water supply,” said Environmental Protection Committee Chair James F. Gennaro. “Ever since this misguided proposal was placed on the table, I have advocated on behalf of all New Yorkers who enjoy the city’s world- renowned drinking water and I am pleased to have worked with Speaker Quinn and the Bloomberg administration in uniting our voice against this proposition. I call on Governor Paterson and the state government to take the next logical step in protecting our water supply and banning drilling within New York City’s watershed.”

The Council will vote to amend three tax-fixing resolutions, previously adopted in June of 2009, to reflect changes in State-approved property tax class shares. In June, the Council passed a Home Rule message to adopt a 0% class share cap for Fiscal 2010. The State law in effect at that time capped the amount any class share could be increased to 5%. Subsequent State legislation amended the law to establish a lower cap at 0% and today’s amendments reflect this change. With this change, an owner of a single family home saves $176 and a co-op apartment owner saves $165.

The class share is the portion or percent of the real estate taxes or levy raised each year borne by each of the four classes of property. That percent changes each year, based on formulas and procedures in State law which take into account changes in the relative market value for each class.