By Phil Corso
The rush to the Muni-Meter is over.
A new law giving drivers the chance to fight unfair parking tickets should boost local businesses, City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) said Monday.
“This is a common-sense law. If you park your car at a metered spot and you walk to the Muni-Meter to pay for it, you’re playing by the rules,” Gennaro said. “And if there’s a parking agent close by or you’re elderly and walk slowly or there’s someone in front of you at the Muni-Meter terminal, you shouldn’t be penalized as if you were trying to cheat the system.”
The law, which Gennaro sponsored, requires that tickets be terminated when a resident shows a valid receipt to the ticketing officer no later than five minutes after it is issued. Gennaro said the measure would save drivers the trouble of having to slog through the appealing process.
“This absolutely had to happen,” Gennaro said.
Business owners and area leaders joined the councilman Monday at a news conference outside his Fresh Meadows office, at 185-10 Union Tnpk.
Queens Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jack Friedman said it was a long time coming for Queens shoppers and merchants.
“This law is great news for small business owners in Queens and throughout the city,” Friedman said. “When drivers are unfairly ticketed for parking on the street, small businesses suffer, too. The shoppers effectively blame the merchant — they don’t come back.”
The Council passed the bill in January, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed it in February. The Council overrode the veto by a 47-2 vote last month, allowing the law to take effect Sept. 24. Gennaro said it would take about $270,000 and 180 days for the city to reprogram its hand-held digital parking scanners to cancel violations on the spot.
“It’s going to make a difference,” said Wendy Marsh, of Marsh Optical and former president of the Union Turnpike Merchants Association. “It’s enough that they get tickets all the time here anyway. When people get tickets, they don’t want to shop here.”
Gennaro said the law would provide consumers with the piece of mind they deserve while shopping in Queens.
“It’s a very common-sense way to go about this,” Gennaro said. “No one has to worry now.”
The councilman added that another bill making its way through the Council complemented his law. The new bill, which has received support from both Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan), would let drivers use their purchased parking time anywhere in the city until it expires.
Under the bill, scheduled for a Council hearing April 23, drivers would be allowed to transfer parking time throughout city Muni-Meters as long as their meter rates are consistent.
“That was always the intent,” Gennaro said. “Everyone is on the same page with this and no one wants to replicate trips to the Muni-Meter. The bill is going to sail through.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.