Call to Action - NYC residents and pastors
When silly policies create needless headaches and can be easily remedied, it's incumbent on us to demand change. One such issue came to my attention this month, when my Annual Clergy Parking Permit expired, and I am requesting your assistance. If enough of us make noise, this can be cured.The New York City Department of Transportation ("DOT") issues Annual Clergy Parking Permits to alleviate the parking hassels clergy face while performing pastoral and community work around houses of worship, funeral homes, and hospitals. (Download application.) Nine years ago, the Permits did not exist. As a result, clergy who were counseling grieving families at hospitals, for example, were forced to leave prematurely to feed parking meters every hour or face stiff fines. The persistent outcry from pastors and congregants compelled then Mayor Giuliani to create the Permit program, which was made available to up to three clergy from particular churches and ministries. The DOT would issue one Permit for up to three license plates and allow the churches to reproduce it for each car bearing the plates. This year, DOT changed the Permit to include a hologram and watermark so it can not be reproduced, along with a warning that reproduction is now a felony. This makes sense to eliminate fraudulent misuses. What does not make sense is that DOT will not issue multiple copies of the Permit for each authorized vehicle. So even though up to three clergy can use the Permit in their respective cars, only one can use it at any given time, which means as a practical matter that each church can only have one Permit. For churches with large congregations and/or pastoral staffs, this reintroduces the very same frustrations that were eliminated nine years ago. God forbid one church has simultaneous hospital visitations, or for that matter, more than one pastor present at the church for worship services, or a funeral in one location and a hospital visitation in another and a counseling session in another. There are literally dozens of inconveniences this creates, some with potentially very serious consequences. The DOT website invites complaints and comments. Let's accept their invitation:
For your convenience, below is sample language you can use in your correspondence:
"E-MAIL US: Send an e-mail to the Commissioner. You will receive a prompt reply to your complaint or inquiry. "WRITE TO US: Write to Commissioner Iris Weinshall at the Department of Transportation, 40 Worth Street, New York, NY 10013. "USE AN ON-LINE FORM: Use an on-line or downloadable form to report certain types of problems or to file some applications. "Call 3-1-1."
Commissioner Iris Weinshall Department of Transportation 40 Worth Street New York, NY 10013 Dear Commissioner Weinshall: Thank you for recognizing the important work clergy contribute to communities and for facilitating such work by issuing the Annual Clergy Parking Permits. Recent changes to the program have created needless impedements to that work, however. Specifically, the new Permit design makes it a felony to reproduce the Permit, and yet the department only issues one Permit for use in multiple (up to three) vehicles. As a practical matter, this means that each church can now receive only one Permit. For example, if one pastor is counseling an abuse victim at the church while another is comforting a grieving family at a funeral home and a third is visiting a parishioner in the hospital, which two should be required to end their duties prematurely to feed the parking meter or risk steep fines? The remedy here is straitforward and easy to implement. Rather than issue one Permit that must be shared by three vehicles, issue three copies of the Permit for use in each approved vehicle. Thank you for your consideration. Feel free to contact me with questions or for additional information at [telephone number]. Very truly yours, [Name]