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NYC Cracks Down on Double Parking

October 9, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ The city where everything goes is fast becoming a place where anything can get you a ticket.

First, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani issued an edict to crack down on jaywalking _ something taught to city kids at birth. Then a dog owner was cited for throwing a birthday party for his dog in a park without a permit.

Now, after years of looking the other way, police are writing tickets for something as New York as a bagel and lox _ double parking.

``What’s next? We’ll have to eat our bagels a certain way?″ complained Terrence Catalano on Thursday.

``The mayor is trying too hard to fix things that aren’t broken,″ the 40-year-old investment analyst said. ``I know crime is down but I have to believe there’s still a criminal element out there.″

To put things in perspective for out-of-towners, New Yorkers excel at three things: walking faster than any other two-legged creature, jaywalking and double parking.

Only speed walking remains legal, at least for now. The crackdown on the other two habits, says Giuliani, is simple: They’re illegal.

But that doesn’t mean Giuliani doesn’t succumb to bad habits himself sometimes. The mayor has admitted he jaywalks ``as a matter of habit and instinct.″

Police have eased up on the jaywalking tickets. But they declared all-out war this week on double parking; orange and white parking tickets are blanketing the city like New Year’s Eve confetti in Times Square.

Residents long used to double parking in a city with a mere 30,000 legal curbside parking spaces for hundreds of thousands of cars say their rights are being violated.

Rights? You betcha, says Maureen Godwin, 65, a lifelong Manhattan resident.

``Everyone double parks here because there’s so few parking spaces, and cops have always looked the other way,″ Mrs. Godwin said as she waited in her double parked car for her husband to come out of a store. ``My parents double parked, I double park, my kids double park. Where are we supposed to park?″

That’s your problem, the cops say. Police Commissioner Howard Safir stands firm when it comes to ``Operation Move Along.″ Fines range from $55 to $280.

New Yorkers planning on taking refuge in a park cannot let their guard down there, either, thanks to a rule barring more than 20 people to gather in a park without a $25 permit.

That news has led to some whining. Especially in the case of Byron _ a Labrador retriever mix whose third birthday party came to a screeching halt in August when a parks enforcement officer ticketed his owner. There were more than 20 people wolfing down cake; it never occurred to Brian Thibeault that he needed a permit.

``Everyone was on a leash and everyone was well-behaved,″ said Thibeault, who was presumably speaking of the dogs. ``There was no barking. There was no music, no noise.″

The case, which came to light Thursday, was dropped after the Daily News called the city Parks Department. Parks Commissioner Henry Stern said the permit rule is generally used to control very large, organized events like concerts and theatrical performances.

Now, it seems the only thing New Yorkers can hold onto is their gazelle-like gait. Residents don’t plan on giving up that right.

``Giuliani would have to reprogram all of us to turn off that fast walking switch,″ said Carmen Ordonez of Brooklyn, as she walked _ with lightning speed _ to lunch.

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