Volunteer civic leaders will have their complimentary parking permits revoked, starting next month

The Brooklyn Paper
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The perk stops here.

The city is yanking the decades-old parking permits that allowed the 59 chairpersons of its community boards the right to park for free on metered city streets.

Starting next month, those that hold the unpaid position will have to give up the parking perk and beginning looking for — and paying for — street spaces like the rest of us. And that doesn’t sit well with some of them.

“I found it very disappointing and disturbing,” said Community Board 10 chairwoman Joanne Seminara. “We’re volunteers, and we spend countless hours every week traveling throughout the district to attend different meetings.”

Seminara and her peers have lorded it over regular motorists for years by routinely displaying two parking permits from the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit, one for the unpaid chair and another for the salaried district manager, allowing free parking at most metered spots in the city for up to three hours.

But that’s all coming to an end on Feb. 1, and the grass roots gladiators are cringing at the thought of having to cut short their civic meetings because they have to move the car.

“If I park at a meter that only takes an hour’s worth of quarters, I can’t stay at the meetings the whole time,” said Community Board 15 chairwoman Theresa Scavo.

Community board members are largely toothless tigers appointed by council members and borough presidents to field community complaints, provide permits for block parties and street fairs, and manage special projects, including organizing tenants associations and coordinating neighborhood cleanups.

District managers, who get to keep their passes, said the city was victimizing folk who gave their free time selflessly to their neighborhoods.

“They’re doing the community a favor,” said Community Board 18 district manager Dorothy Turano. “I’m doing it as part of my obligation, and there’s no question I deserve to have this pass, but so does [Community Board 18 chairman] Sol Needle.”

One affected activist wasn’t too bothered about getting dumped, claiming that he didn’t have much use for the freebie pass anyway.

“I never used one,” said Community Board One chairman Chris Olechowski. “I’m very close to the community board and when I drive, I always find a parking spot.”

The mayor’s press office didn’t respond to calls for a comment.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4514.
Updated 6:51 am, January 22, 2013
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Reasonable discourse

John from Bay Ridge says:
They could walk to meetings.
Jan. 22, 2013, 8:15 am
mike from GP says:
Walk, bike or take the bus/train like the rest of us.

Next up, NYPD, FDNY and other abusers of parking placards.
Jan. 22, 2013, 8:34 am
Or from Yellow Hook says:
Better yet - unicycles or one clown car.
Jan. 22, 2013, 8:50 am
mike from GP says:
Wait, Dorothy Turano? The one who makes $109,000/year and has a $2 million house? Who is buddies with convicted criminal Carl Kruger?

Why are why listening to her? Why does she even have a job in public service anymore, much less and parking permit?
Jan. 22, 2013, 9:11 am
isa from greenpoint says:
What about the district managers? Gerry Esposito from Community Board One has a dedicated spot on Graham Avenue right in front of the office. Does he get to keep it?
Jan. 22, 2013, 9:25 am
Sue from BR says:
They are not doing the community a favor. They are preserving the status quo for themselves and their peers. If you're poor, don't own a car, or see room for improvement, especially in terms of street safety, many of these chairs have no interest in listening to you.

I'm glad this perk is gone. They don't deserve it.

And even though I don't own a car, anything that forces these people to live a little more like the people they are supposed to represent is a good thing. Make them take the bus every once in a while - you'd see change fast.
Jan. 22, 2013, 9:43 am
Pronger from Farragut says:
First they came for the parking permits...
Jan. 22, 2013, 9:45 am
ty from pps says:
What a whiny bunch of tosspots. Try walking.
Jan. 22, 2013, 9:57 am
Joe from Crown Heights says:
If over half the households in this City can get by without even owning a car, and they are ostensibly able to get to their own community's public meetings without parking permits, then I see no reason why board members or staff should have that perk. Most parts of this city are well-designed for getting around without a private car unless you absolutely have to. Seeing how some boards have shown themselves hostile to improvements like bike lanes, bike racks, pedestrian plazas, bus lanes, etc it does beg the question- if their membership were more active participators in these kinds of transportation as the rest of us are, would they be more supportive of these improvements?
Jan. 22, 2013, 10:15 am
D from Queens says:
Seriously, just take the train or bus, or walk or cab it like the majority of people you're supposed to be representing. What the hey, if its nice out, ride a bike.

(Amen to what Mike from GP already said.)
Jan. 22, 2013, 10:46 am
Mickey Shea from Greenpoint says:
Owning a car in NYC is the biggest pain in the ass in the world. What's wrong with these people?
I ditched the car decades ago, it's just expensive baggage.
Jan. 22, 2013, 11:07 am
Rob from NY says:
“We’re volunteers, and we spend countless hours every week traveling throughout the district to attend different meetings.”

They may be "volunteers" but their compensation is non-financial. It is called POWER.
Jan. 22, 2013, 11:43 am
Peter from Brooklyn Heights says:
The Dorothy Turano stuff.. wow.. Just wow.
Jan. 22, 2013, 11:53 am
Mike from Williamsburg says:
It's a lot to ask of community board chairs to relate to the people of their communities. Giving parking privileges makes it so difficult as to be unfair. They'd never be able to relate! I'm glad that the city took away this perk so that the community board chairs will have a fighting chance.
Jan. 22, 2013, 12:09 pm
ty from pps says:
By the way -- What look is Theresa Scavo going for here? A cross between Cruella De Vil and Dr. Evil (or perhaps Mike Myers from Sprockets). She doesn't look like a nice person.
Jan. 22, 2013, 1:43 pm
Tie from Gravesend says:
Doesn't look like a nice person? You are prejudiced.
Jan. 22, 2013, 2:09 pm
Tom from Sunset Park says:
First, what was the original justification for them? Why were they issued some decades ago and re-issued until now? Second, how has this need been eliminated?

The Mayor does not like Community Boards, that is known. He's continually harassed them time and again with budget cuts. This move is so petty. There can be no new significant revenue to the City anticipated, and certainly there is a personal cost in volunteered time. I'm on a board(no perks attached to it) and our chairman is quite engaged with multiple appearances throughout the neighborhood and throughout Brooklyn. He must fulfill these obligations to represent the community properly, and the board appreciates these efforts. The mayor ought to reverse this mistake.
Jan. 22, 2013, 2:40 pm
mike from GP says:

The Mayor's motivation may be petty, but the policy is a good one. Very few public servants deserve parking permits. And those that do, should not be allowed to abuse them. From the Mayor, to the cops, teachers, firemen, politicians, the media, etc. Clean house and enforce the law.

You are correct -- the City has consistently defunded the community boards, and this is unfortunate. But the few whiners in this story (Scavo and the like) have just made fools of themselves, and have made themselves even weaker. Why not come out with a strong, unexpected response to the Mayor's move, and formulate a positive, functional role for community boards and the service they (in theory more than in practice) provide? Instead they've filled the expected role of overpaid, underqualified public servant whining about the loss of privilege. Right now they're playing the Mayor's role, not their own.

And all of us lose because of it.
Jan. 22, 2013, 3:02 pm
s from ppw says:
Tom Murphy, who else gets a parking permit then? Nurses? Teachers? Home care aids? Homeless shelter volunteers?

If we're using your standard of "personal cost in volunteered time" and "obligations" to the community, then there must be dozens of categories of people who would qualify for a parking permit. In fact, I'd hand them out to a lot of people before CB chairs given that standard.

If parking is a challenge and the need for transportation so great, it would make more sense of community boards to reimburse their chairs for the use of a car service to and from official CB business. That way you could eliminate the abuse of these parking permits, since I'm sure many chairs use them for more than just attending out-of-the-way meetings.
Jan. 22, 2013, 3:43 pm
s from ppw says:
And Tom, if you are able to get to your board meetings without a parking permit, I'm sure the chair can too.
Jan. 22, 2013, 3:48 pm
jerry from brighton beach says:
The Mayor shouldn't stop at revoking the parking permits.
The Community Boards should be eliminated altogether.
They are just puppets & rubber stamps for the Councilmen & BP.
Many of the CB members that are appointed by the BP & Coucilmen run non-profits & in turn they rubber stamp whatever the policies the BP or Councilmen want because they get "Member Item" monies for their non-profits from the BP & Councilmen.
This is the truth of the matter.
So when the Chairs say they are volunteers & don't get paid , it's all BS.
Jan. 22, 2013, 5:15 pm
DAniel says:
Perhaps Community Board members could take Community Transit?
Jan. 22, 2013, 6:03 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Why is it that anyone who is either on the community board, working in the public sector, happens to be a civil servant, or even a politician get a permit to park anywhere they please, but the rest of who drive don't get this? How about they start using the great transit they speak of it, especially Bloomberg himself, who has only used it for PR purposes only. Many of those who have parking permits do have a history of abusing them by parking where other can't park at all be it areas that never allow for parking at all or even next to fire hydrants. According to city laws, parking permits are NOT a blank check to park wherever you please especially if one is parking them where it doesn't allow for. Some have been using them when they weren't even on duty or even given them to their friends and families, which is against the law as well. If they had to use whatever the regular people have to use whether it was driving without the permits, taking mass transit, or even walking, they would understand why the communities say there are problems. The reason they never had to feel hindered when they travel to wherever they have to go to is because they know that they have been given a way to park anywhere they feel because they feel that their parking permit is their get out of jail free card. I don't just want community board members to give it up, I also want this to extend to just about everyone else who gets these normally.
Jan. 22, 2013, 6:42 pm
mike from GP says:
Huh. As the saying goes, "even a stopped clock..."
Jan. 22, 2013, 7:07 pm
ty from pps says:
Jan. 23, 2013, 9:50 am
Joey Bots from B-town says:
How does this story relate to my massive musical talent?
Jan. 23, 2013, 11:17 am
Ben from Brooklyn Heights says:
I have a City of New York Handicapped Parking Permit that was very difficult to get I had to go to Bellview for 5 years before I was declared permanantly disabled by our city. Each day/night I park out in front of our brownstone so that ican get to owrk, etc, I need to drive around the city I can not take mass transit due to my injury.
Jan. 23, 2013, 11:33 am
T from Brooklyn says:
Ben, which is why you should be glad the city is taking away parking permits for able-bodied community board chairs who do not need them.
Jan. 23, 2013, 2:48 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
Parking permits are NOT absolute in where whoever uses them can park wherever they please. Those who have them can only park where it says they can park. They don't extend to places where parking is never allowed, and I have seen places where public sector workers, policemen, and even politicians park where they are not supposed even with them. The only problem is that many of them never get caught doing so or have connections of having them overlooked. Why is Bloomberg just saying this to community board members and not all the other city workers and politicians including himself who has them? Perhaps, it could have been because revenue from metered parking was down, and he needed to keep them vacant to go back up in which the community board members were taking them up, not because he thought it was wrong. On a side note, when I was working with the Board of Elections years ago when it was held at town hall over here in Pleasantville, I was given a permit to park in the parking lot of the train station for the durration of the mayoral election, but nowhere else otherwise, I would get ticketed and even possibly towed if I parked anywhere besides there. Other than that, I was never given a parking permit again.
Jan. 23, 2013, 3:57 pm
ty from pps says:
And Tal you were doing so well...
Jan. 23, 2013, 4:13 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
As much as I don't feel that board members or anyone else in the public sector along with politicians including Bloomberg himself should have parking permits, I still feel that the real reason he doesn't want them to have them anymore is because the revenue from metered parking is down otherwise he wouldn't have been talking about this.
Jan. 23, 2013, 6:37 pm
Porkee from Ct says:
Revenue from parking meters is down because of the Muni Meter.

Meter maids don't check too closely. A flipped meter you can see from across the street. Checking each ticket and time is time consuming and the mistakes made after dark are enormous.

Sure saved a lot of money when they went to Muni Meters!!!!!!!!!
Jan. 23, 2013, 6:46 pm
ty from pps says:
Hey Porkee --
I know you're just being a sarcastic douchebag, but the introduction of Munimeters has saved money AND provided many many benefits to NYC drivers. Do you want me to list some?

Cost savings? Fewer "broken meter" excuses. Fewer machines to maintain (and collect money from). Potential advertising revenue on the receipts (like on metro cards). The ability to introduce different rates for different times/days. etc. etc.

Driver benefits? More parking spaces (spacing is according to the lengths of cars, not where the poles are). They accept credit cards AND quarters. Clearly marked time for expiration (no mistakes in your head as your rushing) etc. etc.

Oh yeah... and a lot of the parking peter posts have been converted into bike racks! Win-win.
Jan. 23, 2013, 7:42 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
“If I park at a meter that only takes an hour’s worth of quarters, I can’t stay at the meetings the whole time,” said Community Board 15 chairwoman Theresa Scavo.

Anyone can say that at any time.
Jan. 23, 2013, 7:46 pm
ty from pps says:
Also -- Aren't most community board meetings in the evening? Parking meters are no longer in effect after 7:00pm.

Oh yeah -- Look! "All meetings begin at 7pm and are held at Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Blvd, Brooklyn, NY 11235"

Hmmm... sounds like Ms. Scavo has been using her parking pass for personal use. Funny, it's those that abuse the system that are the first to complain.
Jan. 23, 2013, 8:49 pm
ty from pps says:
(And I bet Kingsborough lets her park on campus in the staff parking lot anyway...)
Jan. 23, 2013, 8:50 pm
common sense from bay tidge says:
@ty: The biggest problem with the Muni-meters is that they don't take dollar bills. It may not have been a big deal when it was 25 cents for 30 minutes, but it's a major hassle at the current rates, and it's only going to get worse as the price goes up.
Jan. 23, 2013, 10:27 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
@ common sense

The Muni-meters take credit cards.
Jan. 24, 2013, 6:19 am
common sense from bay ridge says:
@Other Michael: The fact that they take credit cards is all well and good, but not everyone wants pay a $3 tab with plastic.

Having them take metro cards would have been another smart idea on many levels.
Jan. 24, 2013, 1:14 pm
ty from pps says:
"but not everyone wants pay a $3 tab with plastic" -- Who cares? That's just irrational.

And Metro Cards are for public transportation, not cars. Setting aside the issues of mixing a state agency with city operations... How is sliding a metro card into a slot more difficult than sliding a credit/debit card into a slot?
Jan. 24, 2013, 2:04 pm
ty from pps says:
By the way, I'm starting to seriously question your "common sense" Mr. Common Sense from Bay Ridge.
Jan. 24, 2013, 2:05 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
No, what's irrational is not having muni meters take dollar bills. Again, not everyone has credit/debit cards, or wants to pay atm or interest fees on something that costs a couple of dollars. I guess it would require some "common sense" to see that not adding a feature to a machine that seems to work fine in many other cities, was a major blunder.

Metro Cards are for whatever the MTA has the foresight to use them for to increase revenues, not just public transportation. They are also much easier to obtain than a credit or debit card for many people.

Jan. 24, 2013, 2:35 pm
ty from pps says:
Yes... irrational.

Dollar readers are fickle at the best of times. I'm not surprised they didn't include them. Not to mention TOTALLY REDUNDANT since they accept credit cards!

If you own a car or are driving a car (rental or otherwise) and you don't have a credit/debit card, then you have MUCH bigger problems than figuring out how to pay the Munimeter. This is not the city's problem. Driving is a responsibility that involves being an adult and having certain abilities/resources.

And what fees are you talking about? There are no fees for the payer to use their credit or debit card. As far as interest... umm... pay an extra $3 the next time you make a payment on your credit card. Voilà! No interest on your parking meter payment!

Oh yeah -- again setting aside the complexity of mixing a state agency and a city operation -- If they allowed Metro Cards to be used for things other than public transportation (say, paying for parking or buying a cheeseburger), the IRS would shut down all of the programs where you can buy Metro Cards and commuter rail tickets with pre-tax dollars.
Jan. 24, 2013, 3:10 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
I'm not sure how a dollar reader would be any more fickle than a magnetic strip reader, since they both use the same technology. If anything I've come across more than a few card readers on muni meters that did not work, forcing me to risk a ticket to find change. I can't see cash readers being any worse, and the ones I've used in other cities worked fine for me.

If your argument is that anyone with bad/no credit should not have a car, or be able to park, that still doesn't answer why the muni meters are not set up to collect the most revenue possible. That's the only thing that should matter to the DOT.

Also, why would the IRS need to take the measures you describe? They would be able to collect all revenue on the sales tax from items purchased with a Metro Card. Revenue they certainly would not be guaranteed to get with a customer paying cash with their pre-tax dollars.
Jan. 24, 2013, 4:32 pm
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
I think it is to much to ask a machine that stays out in the weather to accept bills.

So Mr common sense, just drive around with a ash tray full of quarters, just like the old days.
Jan. 24, 2013, 6:42 pm
ty from pps says:
Common Sense -- I'll educate you.

The IRS makes it possible to buy public transportation tickets for commuting pre-tax. This is a TAX CUT program, not a revenue producer. It's akin to the medical savings account program -- payroll deduction. You can only spend this money on commuter transit expenses... it either entails MetroCards being sent directly to the beneficiary OR a *restricted* debit card that can *only* be used in MetroCard vending machines. If you can use your MetroCard to buy anything, it defeats the purpose and YES the IRS would force the MTA to stop allowing people to buy MetroCards with pre-tax dollars.

(By the way, there is no federal sales tax... so the IRS doesn't care about sales tax.)

And, I don't expect every driver to have a credit card or awesome credit. What I don't think is unreasonable is for drivers to all maintain either a bank account with a Visa/MasterCard debit card or, if they are scared of banks, a pre-paid debit card. This is 2012.
Jan. 24, 2013, 6:52 pm
ty from pps says:
"a dollar reader [and] a magnetic strip reader... use the same technology"

Not even close.
Jan. 24, 2013, 7:06 pm
Eazy D from Sheepshead Bay says:
I heard Tal's bike got stolen by the same guy who stole Gersh's bike.
Jan. 25, 2013, 12:38 am
Other Michael from Park Slope says:
you can also buy a muni meter card at a lot of places or on line
Jan. 25, 2013, 5:49 am
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Passes that are valid for only meeting times are an easy option with RFID cards. If the Tokyo subway can use them for 20 years, it's not a stretch for Brooklyn.
Jan. 25, 2013, 11:40 am
Joey Bots from B-Town says:
As Hillary said - at this point, what difference does it make!
Jan. 25, 2013, 11:51 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I betcha if all city politicians, board members, public sector workers, and emergency workers, lots more money can be saved. Personally, I am against residential parking permits that can be used on normal streets, and this goes back to when congestion pricing was thought of. All it does is turn what is supposed to be public streets into gated communities. If your property already has a garage or driveway, then there is no need to get a parking permit, because you already have a place that is for your vehicle only, which is why I think that the parking premiums should stay when building new residential buildings. As for the muni meters, the only advantage I see in them is that nobody needs the length of spaces between individual meters, but when someone leaves before their time is up, the extra time leaves with them, so the other person can't use this, plus some have been ticketed just for going to get the receipt and bringing it back to place on their dash board.
Jan. 25, 2013, 3:59 pm

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