“Gotcha” parking ticket bills headed for veto

Councilman Jimmy Vacca thinks there are enough City Council votes to override Mayor Michael Bloomberg if Bloomberg vetoes a trio of parking ticket bills.

Councilman Jimmy Vacca expects Mayor Michael Bloomberg to veto three bills passed by the City Council and designed to avert thousands of “gotcha” parking tickets. Vacca co-sponsored the bills.

The City Council passed all three on Monday, November 16. Together, the bills would establish a five-minute grace period for expired meters, require notice to motorists and residents when parking restrictions change and require notice to community boards and City Council members when the city changes parking rules. The bills are designed to rein in what some motorists consider excessive ticketing, Vacca explained.

“For years, my colleagues and I have been fighting to put an end to the ferocious traffic enforcement that is squeezing our middle class communities and suffocating our small businesses,” Vacca said. “If the city will not instruct its agents to use discretion, we’ll force them to by law.”

Although he expects Bloomberg to veto the bills, Vacca is confident that he has enough City Council votes to override a veto. He would need two-thirds of the City Council to defy the mayor.

“The council is galvanized to fight over-ticketing and I think there are enough votes,” Vacca said. “I think that the mayor is concerned that the bills will open the door for ticket abuses, such as a five-minute [grace period] becoming seven minutes.”

John Bonizio of the Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square called the bills a step in the right direction. There has been widespread over-ticketing in Westchester Square, Bonizio argued.

“I think that all three bills are common sense actions,” he said. “I applaud Councilman Vacca for his effort in the area of curbing parking ticket excesses. [The bills] are all very sound and reasonable.”

Only if the bills become laws will the slogan on the side of ticket agents’ cars ring true, Bonizio said.

“These bills represent what is written on the side of the cars and what [the traffic agents] don’t adhere to: courtesy, professionalism and respect,” Bonizio said. “[If] Mayor Bloomberg is opposed to these bills, it shows that his administration is not showing courtesy and respect to the taxpaying citizens of New York City.”

Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at 718 742-3393 or procchio@cnglocal.com

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