Nelson Pursues Amnesty For Delinquent Drivers

Councilman Michael C. Nelson is pushing a new bill that would give a free pass to recipients of parking tickets that have wracked up late fees. You can read the press release below.

I’m not a driver, so I don’t have parking tickets. My general reaction to this is that it’s plainly unfair to give forgiveness to people too irresponsible to pay their bills on time. Parking tickets are a problem in this city, for sure, and the city could use the immediate revenues this would produce. But none of this is a real solution. Instead, it seems to me the city should lean on those who haven’t paid and get every penny the taxpayers are owed. Simultaneously, there should be reform in the way parking tickets are given out to reduce excessive and abusive ticketing processes.

But again, I’m not a driver, so maybe it looks different from your side of the windshield. I welcome your opinion.

Here’s the release:

Councilman Nelson Introduces Parking Violations Amnesty Program Legislation
(City Hall) – Council Member Michael C. Nelson proudly announces the introduction of legislation which, if passed into law, will initiate a forgiveness program for parking violation penalties.  Introduction 22-2010, which is co-sponsored by Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, is modeled after the same concept as the ECB forgiveness program implemented by the Council last year.  The ECB bill provided an opportunity for individuals, who were issued violations by various city agencies (Department of Buildings, Consumer Affairs, Sanitation, etc.) and were currently in default to eliminate their debt with the city by paying only the base fine, thereby avoiding all penalties.
Councilman Nelson’s legislation will present New Yorkers with the rare opportunity to do the same with parking violations issued by the Department of Finance.  Specifically, Introduction 22-2010 would provide a temporary, 90 day program that allows respondents to resolve parking violations that are “in default” and for which the default judgment was issued before January 1, 2010.  Applicants can resolve their default violations by paying the base fine and will not have to pay additional penalties, late fees or interest.  The dates of the program will be determined by the Department of Finance and will only be effective during Fiscal Year 2011 (July 1, 2010-June 30, 2011.)  The bill has been referred to the Council’s Committee on Finance for further review.
To date, there is approximately $700 million in overdue parking fines, dating as far back as 2001.  Although initial parking violations can be costly, late fees and interest charges can quickly add up if the fine is not paid within the allotted time.  After the first 100 days and the accumulation of three late fees, interest begins to accrue at a rate of nine percent per year. Similar amnesty programs implemented in other major cities such as Chicago have proven successful resulting in the collection of millions of dollars in paid parking fines.  Last Month, the City of Savannah, Georgia again had implemented a month-long parking penalty amnesty program since its past amnesty programs proved very popular and successful.
“The near collapse of Wall Street coupled with every other economic problem accompanying the Great Recession has taken a financial toll on New York City.  Tax revenues are down and thousands of New Yorkers are jobless with thousands more, specifically police officers and firefighters, facing the grim possibility of lay offs,” said Councilman Nelson.  “Take all that and combine it with the frustration and anger New Yorkers feel over the thousands of parking tickets issued to them every year and you have a recipe for a very depressed city.  A parking violations amnesty program would be a fantastic way for New Yorkers to pay off their debt to the City in a cost effective way and at the same time generate much needed revenue that can pay the salaries of hundreds of police officers and keep other critical city agencies afloat.”
“In these tough economic times, this legislation would give New Yorkers a much needed reprieve from parking fines.  Excessive over-ticketing has created a real burden for residents across the five boroughs — the least we can do is give them some breathing room to pay off their debts.  I look forward to working with Councilmember Nelson on this important bill,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
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