Muni-meter bill fast-tracked through City Council

It won’t make it easier to find a space, but a bill in the City Council may give drivers their personal parking meters – the right to use up time on their muni-meter receipts in other spaces.

The City Council Transportation Committee chaired by Councilman Jimmy Vacca held a hearing on the proposal last Monday, April 23.

Vacca said the bill, which he sponsored, has wide support in the Council, and is being “fast-tracked” with the support of Speaker Christine Quinn.

“Many traffic agents are giving tickets to people who purchase time at one muni-meter and then move to another location,” Vacca said. “We want to make sure that people get the time they are paying for.”

The issue arose with the installation of muni-meters, which should be city-wide by the end of the year, Vacca said.

“Before, if there was 15 minutes left on a meter, you got to use that time,” Vacca said, adding he thinks a similar freebie should exist on purchased muni-meter receipts if a driver moves their car around a particular shopping district or to neighboring districts.

Some business leaders from the Westchester Square and Throggs Neck shopping districts agreed.

“The city has been very unclear with the rules and regulations on extra muni-meter time,” said Joseph Regina, program director for the Westchester Square Merchants Association. “The city shouldn’t be able to double-dip with parking fees in a commercial district. As a motorist, I should be able to use all of my parking time after I have paid my 25 cents for 15 minutes.”

Regina called the proposal a common-sense approach.

Allowing people to use all their muni-meter time would probably help increase parking space turnover on commercial shopping strips, something important for businesses, said Throggs Neck merchant leader Jim McQuade of Schuyler Hill Funeral Home at 3535 E. Tremont Avenue.

“I think the bill is fairer to the consumer and allows them to come in and out of different stores without having to worry about finding more pay stations,” McQuade said. “It takes the confusion out of it. I like the idea.”

Drivers have gotten a number of breaks on parking recently, including a five-minute grace period for muni-meter parkers that was passed in a City Council vote 47-2, overriding a veto by Mayor Bloomberg, in December 2009.

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