Council Members Davide Weprin, Simcha Felder and Vincent Gentile ripped up mock parking tickets in front of City Hall yesterday to protest what Gentile calls "a ticketing blitz, with New Yorkers being treated as revenue sources instead of residents, targets instead of partners." The Councilmen have introduced a bill that would require a five-minute "grace period" for certain parking violations, including no parking zones (such as alternate side) and expired Muni-Meters.

A five-minute grace period was previously part of the city's traffic enforcement policy, but has since been replaced with a suggestion to agents that they use common sense when doling out violations. Many drivers mistakenly believe the grace period is still policy, but the Councilmen say more than 276,000 were ticketed for alternate side violations within five minutes of the rule taking effect last fiscal year. Of those, 28,000 were written at the exact moment the rules took effect, according to an extensive analysis reported in the Times last year.

The Bloomberg administration insists that the city does not view parking tickets as a revenue generator, but over the last fiscal year, the city collected more than $620 million in parking fines; during the 2003 fiscal year, the city collected $429 million. "Enough is enough," Felder told reporters yesterday. "Tickets should be issued to encourage compliance, not to generate revenue for the City! ‘Gotcha’ tickets fly in the face of that philosophy." It's now up to the Council Transportation Committee, chaired by John C. Liu of Queens, to consider the bill.