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Photos could stop ticket mayhem

With the city showing nearly 10 million parking tickets issued between July 2007 and June 2008, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, is introducing legislation to monitor the quality of the summonses.

In December, Vacca, proposed a bill that would require Traffic Enforcement Agents to take a photo of certain situations that would document such offenses as blocking the crosswalk or parking in a no-standing or bus zone.

This bill would not only protect the citizens, by giving them a chance to fight an unfair ticket, but also prevent guilty motorists from seeking the same relief.

Richard Rodriguez, a Throggs Neck resident, was the victim of overzealous ticketing when he received a violation while waiting to pull into a parking spot where his son works. On Wednesday January 28, around 6 p.m. Rodriguez was pulled over in front of 1314 Blondell Avenue, as he waited to move into a vacated parking spot.

“I saw the traffic agent standing there, and after I pulled into the spot I said to him that I hope he understands I was not double parking, but waiting to move into the spot,” said Rodriguez.

When he returned to his car, Rodriguez had been issued a $115 double parking summons.

“It’s stories like this that repeatedly frustrate drivers in our neighborhood and throughout the city,” said Vacca. “Many of these traffic agents are like vultures, swooping down and issuing fines regardless of whether a particular driver has committed an offense.

“That’s why I’ve introduced legislation in the City Council that would require agents to photograph offenses and prohibit agents from issuing tickets five minutes before or after certain parking rules go into effect. If agents aren’t going to exercise common sense and discretion, then we’re going to have to force them to.”

A second bill proposed by Vacca, in conjunction with Councilman Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, reduces overzealous ticketing would include a five minute ‘grace period’ for certain parking violations.

“This bill aims to add a dose of sanity to a traffic enforcement system,” said Vacca. “When drivers overrun a Muni-Meter by a few minutes, or leave their car in a street sweeping zone for a moment too long, they deserve a little leeway before facing fines that run well over $ 100.”

This ‘grace period’ would assist drivers in cases such as of Pat Macchia’s, who watched an agent waiting at his car to issue a $ 115 fine at 11:03, while Macchia was preparing to move his car.

“Enough is enough,” said Felder. “Parking tickets should not be used solely to generate revenue, with enforcement agents poised to pounce the moment the clock strikes.”

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