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Vallone wants softer rules on parking

City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said he will continue to push for laws that protect city residents from overzealous traffic agents after the Council passed one bill he sponsored that would give a grace period for alternate side street parking.

Vallone said he co-sponsored two bills after hearing stories of traffic agents in Astoria using excessive means to hand out tickets.

“These bills are an attempt to legislate common sense and discretion,” he said. “We are sending a message that we will not tolerate overly aggressive traffic agents. It’s turned into the biggest source of complaints in my office.”

He said he has been relayed stories from constituents in which agents gave a ticket to a driver who dropped off his elderly mother at a doctor’s office, a fine to a car in a funeral procession that just barely blocked an intersection and numerous occasions during which drivers were ticketed for being stopped to wait for a parking space.

One of the worst corners of the neighborhood for parking tickets is close to his office on 31st Street near Ditmars Boulevard.

“It’s a pursuit of revenue that’s gotten out of control,” he said.

One of the bills, introduced by Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) and sponsored by Vallone, gives drivers a five-minute grace period for alternate side of the street parking and Muni-Meters before traffic enforcement agents issue parking tickets. The Council passed the bill last week.

Another bill, which was sponsored by Vallone and Councilmen Vincent Gentile (D-Brooklyn) and James Vacca (D-Bronx), would require the city Department of Transportation to provide written notification before changing parking rules and to wait 30 days before changing meters rates.

The legislation would also give a five-day grace period to drivers who receive parking violations after the regulations have changed as well as allowing them to challenge the ticket and have it dismissed if they receive it within five days of the city’s regulation changes.

Vallone is also in the process of writing a bill that would prevent traffic agents from giving drivers double-parking tickets as they wait to pull into a spot or while they are momentarily stopped in a “No Parking” zone to drop off a passenger.

“These are hardworking taxpayers who are just trying to shop,” he said. “They shouldn’t be penalized because the person standing in front of them on a shopping line was digging for exact change.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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