City Councilman David Greenfield will introduce legislation on July 24th to add Tisha B’Av to the city’s list of 26 days of suspended alternate-side parking, he announced Thursday.
Greenfield, a Democrat, represents the Bensonhurst, Borough Park and Midwood parts of Brooklyn, which have heavy Jewish and Orthodox populations. While car owners would still have to pay for metered parking, they would not have to move their vehicles for street cleaning.
As a day of fasting and mourning to commemorate the destruction of the great Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, Tisha B’Av — the 9th day of the month of Av — consumes the day for many religious Jews. But it is not a Yom Tov, and activities like spending money and driving are permitted. However, Greenfield says that on the fast day his observant Jewish constituents are greatly inconvenienced by current parking regulations.
“I am introducing this legislation to make this simple accommodation on behalf of my constituents and religious Jews across the five borough,” said Greenfield in a statement. “Tisha B’Av is one of the most important dates on the Jewish calendar with much of the day dedicated to prayer at synagogue. Requiring observers to interrupt prayer services to move their vehicle while fasting on what is often one of the hottest days of the year represents a serious hardship for many.”
The chair of the Council’s Transportation Committee, Democrat James Vacca of the Bronx, did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the bill; nor did a spokesman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who in the past has opposed adding days to the suspension calendar.
After the Stated City Council meeting next week, the legislation will be referred to a council committee. This is not Greenfield’s first parking-related advocacy for Brooklyn’s Jewish community, as he recently helped create a program that ended metering on Fridays on 16th Avenue in Boro Park on 5 p.m. instead of 7 p.m., taking into account that observant drivers can not feed the meters once Shabbat has begun.
The list of suspended parking days is diverse, ranging from the Feast of the Assumption to Purim (a day when many Jews drink in celebration, and therefore should not be compelled to drive).
Greenfield was elected in 2010, and is running for reelection in November on the Democrat and Conservative party lines.