2012-01-27 / Top Stories

The Muni-Meter Unfairness Outlawed

By Nicholas Briano

The City Council passed a law last week that will prohibit ticket hungry Traffic Enforcement Agents from writing you up for a parking ticket while you’re at the Muni-Meter paying for parking; instead, it would be possible to cancel those tickets on the spot if proof of parking purchase is shown.

The bill is part of the Council’s Fair Parking Legislation package which also includes actions to ban those bright yellow sanitation stickers slapped on your car window after alternate side parking violations, and late fees on parking tickets prior to a determination of liability. Under current law, late fees may start accruing 30 days after a ticket is issued, rather than 30 days after a determination is made in these cases.

The Muni-Meter bill, presented by Council Speaker Christine Quinn during her 2011 State of the City address, would prohibit traffic cops from writing tickets to people in the process of paying for their spot at a Muni-Meter. Under the legislation, Traffic Enforcement Agents, with electronic ticketing devices, will be required to cancel the ticket immediately if the time stamped on the Muni-Meter receipt is within five minutes of the ticket being issued.

This is welcome news to many shoppers on the busy commercial strips of Mott Avenue, Beach 116 Street and even Beach 129 Street where residents complain that they see Traffic Enforcement Agents waiting for people to get out of their cars and head over to the Muni-Meter just to be issued a parking violation while they pay for parking.

But Mayor Bloomberg has already said publicly that he’s against both the Muni-Meter and sanitation sticker bills and plans to veto both. The City Council, however, as long as they have a twothirds majority on the bills, can override the mayor’s veto, a move that’s expected by the Council as both bills passed with the necessary majority.

“It increases the likelihood of on-street confrontations with Traffic Agents and creates a system that is ripe for abuse,” said Mayoral spokesman Marc LaVorgna in defense of Bloomberg’s planned veto of the bills.

The Muni-Meter bill could take as long as six months to go into effect because the traffic agent devices need to be reformatted with the built-in capability to cancel tickets on the spot.

The New York City Department of Finance, which will also train the Traffic Enforcement Agents to use the reformatted devices, estimates that the changes in formatting will cost the city $250,000.

The Council’s bill also requires the city to annually report the number of parking tickets which were cancelled by Traffic Enforcement Agents. This will help the Council analyze any trends that develop after the changeover is implemented.

The city makes approximately $600 million per year from parking violations.

It’s unclear how these bills will impact the city’s bottom line. Quinn says, however, that the purpose of the bills is to encourage proper enforcement tactics, not to raise the city’s revenue.

Bloomberg, while he says he will veto the sticker and Muni-Meter bills, plans to sign the bill into law that restructures the late fee schedule for the contested tickets.

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