New York, Aug 23 (Reuters): For most New Yorkers, finding a quick and legal parking spot is an exercise in frustration. Diplomats and consular officials soon will share their pain.
New York City officials and the US state separtment said yesterday that the number of diplomatic and consular vehicles allowed to park on city streets will be slashed by three-quarters, to 530 from 2,600.
Diplomats and consular officials from the city’s 189 diplomatic missions have a reputation for being parking scofflaws and owe nearly $22 million in parking fines that the city has been unable to collect.
City officials also announced measures aimed at getting diplomats to pay up. While international law effectively bars the city from collecting on the lion’s share of past fines — three-quarters of the total are owed by diplomatic-only licenses that are protected — mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city is cracking down on new offenders.
“Diplomats are finally going to play by the rules and pay their tickets,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
“We think it is very much in the interests of the people of New York City and we think will be accepted by the diplomatic community,” Bloomberg added at a news conference held with Patrick Kennedy, US ambassador to the United Nations for management and reform.
Without naming specific countries, Bloomberg said “a very small minority” of scofflaws had taken the shine off the diplomatic and consular community’s parking record.
Egypt, Kuwait and Nigeria are top offenders, city officials have said.
Under the deal, which is to take effect on November 1, the city will allot 530 specific spaces on the street, and a diplomatic car must bear a sticker that matches that spot.
State department officials will physically remove consular plates and refuse renewals of diplomatic plates to consulate officials who fail to pay three or more tickets after 100 days.
Consular plates will come off vehicles owned by officials who do not pay 60 per cent of their outstanding parking tickets by September 1.
As for ordinary New Yorkers who might want to use one of the 530 assigned spots, the mayor outlined simple consequences.
“You get a ticket,” he said. “It’s illegal. Don’t do it.”
A New York City radio station has cancelled the popular Opie and Anthony Show after a live broadcast of a couple purportedly having sex in a prominent local church as part of a contest. The federal communications commission has also begun investigating the incident, which could ultimately lead to the revocation of WNEW-FM’s broadcast license or a stiff fine if violations of federal indecency laws are found.