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City Council Takes to the Streets
November 4th, 2011

On the same day, it tackled the issue of undocumented immigrants (for that story, go here), the City Council took on something really controversial: the battle for spaces on the city’s crowded streets.

At its stated meeting Thursday, members enacted two measures.

One reflected concerns that the Bloomberg administration, in its zeal for bike lanes, has sometimes ignored wishes of local residents. Intro 412, which passed unanimously, would require that the city Department of Transportation provide community boards with at least 90 days notification of any planned bike lanes in their area, allowing the board to hold hearings. If the board wanted, transportation officials would have to make presentations to the affected boards.

This does not mean the board could veto bike lanes, but simply that it be informed and consulted.

More on the bike law bill and residential parking permits after the jump.

The bill’s sponsor, Councilmember Lew Fidler, whose district has been roiled by some bike lane disputes, said it does not take a position on bike lanes themselves but is “pro community input.”

Some bike advocates, though, disagree. Caroline Samponaro of Transportation Alternatives told NY1 the bill is simply “a way to just slow down safety improvements.”

“Bike lanes are loved by some neighborhoods and not so much by others,” Council Speaker Christine Quinn said, adding she hoped the bill “would calm some of the bike lane debate.”

One can always hope.

The other bill — a home rule message actually — could set in motion a plan for residential parking permits in the city. In some other parts of the country — Washington, D.C. — for one, residents of a particular neighborhood purchase a parking sticker that gives them priority for parking places close to their homes. The impetus for the resolution, SLR14, came from people living near the new Barclay Arena at Atlantic Yards, who worry they won’t be able to find parking once the Nets begin playing there next year, as well as residents of the Yankee Stadium area who already complain of difficulty parking.

The bill, according to transportation committee chair James Vacca, does not institute the permits but merely asks the state legislature, which has jurisdiction over this, to allow the city to look into whether the permits would make sense in some parts of the city. “We want people who live in local communities to be allowed to park somewhere near their homes,” Vacca said.

Councilmember Letitia James, who represents areas near Atlantic Yards, said the parking could serve as a “disincentive” for people to drive to the new arena. “Individuals who come to Barclays Arena should use mass transit,” she said.

The bill though, attracted considerable opposition (by the council’s standards), particularly from members who represent communities whose residents drive to other neighborhoods neighborhoods where they do not live and park for the day before getting on a bus or subway. Eight members voted against the resolution and one abstained.

One, VIncent Ignizio of Staten Island, dismissed the notion that people who live in an area have more of a right to park on the streets there than residents of other areas. “The spot in front of my home is not mine,” he said. People from his district should be able to park near Yankee Stadium, he said, and residents of the Bronx should feel free to park in Tottenville. (Don’t all drive there at once, folks.)

Some raised the specter of the fee that the city might charge for the permits. “I’m just concerned we’re now going to start taxing open space and the right to park in front of our homes,” Fidler said.

While opponents lost yesterday’s round, the residential parking has to make it through many hoops before becoming a reality in New York. Councilmember Gale Brewer, who voted in favor, said she did not think it would pass in Albany.

The two Republican state senators from the city oppose the measure, making its passage in the GOP-controlled Senate unlikely, the Daily News reported today.

By on November 4, 2011, 1:20 pm
In category: City Hall,Gotham City,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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One Response to “City Council Takes to the Streets”

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