May 29, 2003

Quality of Life? That’s the Ticket

By Glenn Thrush STAFF WRITER

With parking summonses down 17 percent so far this year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg insisted yesterday that the city is not engaged in a ticketing blitz to raise cash, as some have charged.

But officials conceded a clampdown on quality-of-life violators has resulted in a 13 percent increase in summonses for minor infractions, such as public drunkenness and disorderly conduct.

"The police are doing a great job at keeping the quality of life in this city where we want it," Bloomberg said during a Times Square news conference.

"If occasionally there is a ticket that doesn't make a lot of sense ... it's a shame that that happens."

The administration has been buffeted in recent days by criticism over summonses that border on the fanciful, such as a ticket given to an 18-year-old pregnant woman for sitting on subway steps.

The police union, meanwhile, is saying the administration is leaning on officers to fill parking ticket "quotas."

"Do we like the revenue? The revenue is helping us keep more police on the street," Bloomberg said. But he added, "We don't have quotas, we have performance measurements."

The number of parking tickets issued in the city has fallen from about 2.7 million at this time last year to 2.3 million so far this year, a drop of 467,000, said police spokesman Lt. Brian Burke.

But more of those tickets are being written by beat cops at the city's 76 precincts, which may explain the police union's recent indignation. Parking summonses issued by police officers rose by about 4 percent, to 912,414, during the first five months of the year, Burke said.

Criminal court summonses -- which include tickets for sitting on subway steps, illegally feeding pigeons or using a milk crate as a stool -- rose from 132,226 last year to 151,421 this year. Fines for such tickets typically start at $50.