Tag Archives: parking

City accepting proposals to develop 200-unit building on Flushing parking lot


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


The city is asking for proposals to build a mixed-use, mixed-income building with 200 apartments in a municipal parking lot in Flushing.

Flushing Municipal Lot 3, located adjacent to the LIRR Flushing station on 41st Avenue and Main Street, has about 156 parking spots and is operated by the Department of Transportation.

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is accepting proposals for the 43,200-square-foot lot to help address Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-year housing plan to create 200,000 affordable housing units in the city. Although the proposals will target housing, all proposals must produce a plan to replace the 156 parking spots currently on the lot.

Community Board 7, which includes Flushing, has about 250,100 people, making it the most populous district in the city.

The HPD said the proposals must have 50 percent of the 200 new apartments as two-bedroom apartments or at least 40 percent with family-sized rooms.

 

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Residents ask for parking lines along Lindenwood streets


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

SALVATORE LICATA

Residents of Lindenwood want parking to be spot on.

More than 100 cars can be parked nose-first adjacent to the Belt Parkway on 157th Avenue between 77th and 80th streets, but that number is often reduced because there are no marked parking spaces.

Street signs tell drivers to back in at a 90 degree angle but since spaces aren’t marked, there are often wide gaps between vehicles too small for parking, which cut down the available space for other drivers.

So residents and politicians are calling for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to draw lines perpendicular to the curb to create defined parking spaces.

“A small effort from the DOT will allow local residents to have more parking spaces to access their neighborhood,” said Assemblyman Phillip Goldfeder, who wrote a letter to the DOT urging them to do so.

Some residents have received summonses for parking haphazardly along the avenue but feel they are not at fault due to the city’s lack of designated parking spots for them.
“Marked legal parking spots are unclear and people are receiving summonses,” said Joann Ariola, president of the Howard Beach-Lindenwood Civic Association. “Redefining the lines will clear up all confusion when parking.”

The DOT is still reviewing Goldfeder’s request and did not have a response for how they would handle this situation.

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Bayside BID to study DOT lot expansion to solve community parking woes


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Building up may be the best way to build up Bayside businesses, and Councilman Paul Vallone allocated $20,000 for a study to solve the parking problem near Bell Boulevard, which many residents and business owners say is the No. 1 issue in the community.

The Bayside Village Business Improvement District (BID), which supports hundreds of businesses along Bell Boulevard between Northern Boulevard and 35th Avenue with sanitation, event planning and marketing services, requested the funding to conduct a feasibility study to build a multilevel parking lot. The parking structure would expand the current Department of Transportation (DOT) municipal lot on 214th Place and 41st Avenue.

“It is no secret that the popularity of this commercial hub makes parking difficult for those commuting via the Long Island Railroad and customers frequenting stores,” Vallone said. “Potentially expanding the municipal parking lot on 41st Avenue could greatly alleviate parking concerns and ensure continued success for the businesses that call Bell Boulevard home. This study is a step in that direction.”

A representative of the BID said the feasibility study will identify and estimate costs to expand the lot, examine financial impacts on the neighborhood, analyze the supply and demand for spaces, and determine possible mixed-use options for the new structure. The lot may expand up, but representatives aren’t sure how many levels at this moment.

Currently, the parking lot has dozens of spaces, but residents and business owners say it’s usually filled.

“You can’t find a [parking spot] there on nights and on weekends,” said John Bonavita, co-owner of Fiamma 41, a restaurant that opened eight months ago on 41st Avenue between Bell Boulevard and 214th Place. Bonavita said that the restaurant added valet parking on weekends specifically to counter complaints about the lack of parking.

“The fact that they would add parking would be a plus for the boulevard,” he said. “I lose a lot of business because people say they can’t find parking.”

 

 

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Authorities and Hamilton Beach residents use trucks to fight trucks


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Roger Gendron

Police towed three trucks and one school bus illegally parked in Hamilton Beach on Monday and Tuesday in a new effort to stop an old problem, according to authorities.

“It’s an out of the way location, a hidden spot where they think they’re safe parking overnight,” Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff of the 106th Precinct said. “It’s a quality of life issue for the locals.”

The police have also issued summonses for unregistered cars parked in the small neighborhood that is already ailed with other transportation issues like small, narrow two-way roads and potholes. Residents and police are hoping that this will be enough to put an end to a problem that has been going on for several years, according to Schiff.

While Hamilton Beach may seem like a good hiding place for truck and car owners illegally parked in the area, Schiff is paying close attention to residents’ complaints and plans on towing more trucks in the near future. But part of the problem of towing such large vehicles is that special, heavy-duty tow trucks are needed and the NYPD has a limited amount of these tow trucks.

“There are 76 commands in New York City that want the same thing done,” Schiff said. “So it’s a logistical thing. This wouldn’t be a problem if you could use regular tow trucks.”

 

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Precinct helps ease parking problem outside Fresh Meadows school


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Police have stepped in to ease a daily parking problem outside a Fresh Meadows school that has frustrated parents and put students at risk for at least a year.

Parents dropping off their kids at P.S. 173 have been double parking and blocking the school bus stop during the morning rush about 8 a.m., residents said.

“Sometimes they’ll let the kids out in the middle of the street and have the kids run across to get into school,” said Jim Gallagher Jr., president of the Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association.

At times, students are also left stranded in the middle of the road until traffic clears, said former PTA President Alan Ong.

The “No Standing” street on 67th Avenue gets backed up with at least 15 cars at a time, according to Gallagher.

Short-tempered parents have cursed and threatened volunteer parents who try to move traffic along, residents said.

“It’s a dangerous situation,” said John Callari, a nearby resident. “I almost got run over one morning when my wife and I were taking our grandchildren to school.”

Two traffic safety cops at the 107th Precinct have been easing congestion at the school for about half an hour every day, for the last two weeks.

They will continue “as long as resources are there,” a community affairs officer at the precinct said.

Summonses have been issued to illegally parked drivers in the past, but the precinct wants their main goal to be making sure parents understand the danger.

“We’re trying to work with everybody to educate motorists,” the officer said. “Keeping the kids safe is always the priority.”

The school has more than 900 students, from kindergarten through fifth grade, said Ong, who is now a member of Community District Education Council 26.

The Department of Education did not comment.

“Many other schools in the city are experiencing the same problem,” Ong said. “We need to somehow, someway bring awareness to parents. The last thing we want is an accident.”

 

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Scobee Diner site plans move forward


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

The city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) has approved a variance that would pave the way for a new building at the former Scobee Diner site in Little Neck. 

The variance gives new owner Lion Bee Equities permission to move the vacant restaurant’s parking lot to the back of the property, converting some spaces in a residential zone to commercial spots.

Lion Bee Equities officials say the move, adopted Dec. 10 by the BSA , will improve safety and decrease traffic near the 252-29 Northern Blvd. site. It was given the green light last summer by Community Board 11 and then-Queens Borough President Helen Marshall.

Larger plans for the Great Neck-based company include demolishing the diner and transforming the site into a two-story mixed commercial and community facility with a CitiBank on the first floor and a dentist’s office on the second.

The CitiBank would include a drive-thru ATM with a Little Neck Parkway entrance. There will be 17 parking spaces in the new lot, including one handicapped space.

Scobee closed in 2010, when restaurant owners failed to reach agreement on purchasing the property from the landowners.

The plans will now go to the city’s Department of Buildings for review.

The department recently approved permits for E. Gluck Corp., a Long Island City-based watch manufacturer, to move into the long vacant site of the former Leviton building along Little Neck Parkway, according to Community Board 11.

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Unhappy Housing Authority residents offered payment plan for new parking spots


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Rory Lancman

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is offering an installment plan to ease parking rate hikes on burdened drivers.

“Increases are a way of life, but if it’s falling on the residents, at least give us ample time to prepare for this increase,” said Craig Kinsey, president of the James A. Bland Resident Association. “Not to give these residents enough time to pay—it was totally unheard of, insensitive and immoral.”

NYCHA increased parking costs this year for residents paying for unreserved spaces. Costs went up to $265 for most drivers, $212 for seniors and a whopping $500 for on-site employees.

NYCHA spokesperson Zodet Negrón the agency is getting rid of unreserved parking lots and changing them to reserved ones starting May 1.

She said the shift, which will designate a specific spot for each driver, will improve safety and make enforcement easier.

Conversion plans were released last December, with notifications reaching residents in March and April, according to the agency. But residents in the borough’s two NYCHA houses said authorities did not give them enough time to make payments.

“My son is going to college. I’m paying deposit fees for tuition, deposit fees for room and board,” said Monica Corbett, president of the Pomonok Residents Association. “I’d be stuck if I had to choose between my son’s education and parking fees. I’d be parking on the street.”

Drivers in 43 developments throughout the city now have the option to pay in four installments instead of in full.

The first payment is due April 30.

The installment plan is only available this year for residents who have not yet paid the lump sum.

“It’s better than paying all at once,” Corbett said. “It’s a new avenue for the Housing Authority. But sometimes when you don’t include the major stakeholders, things get lost in translation.”

NYCHA began a new partnership with Greystone Parking Services in March. The payment plan was offered “in response to concerns expressed by many residents,” a spokesperson said.

Kinsey lambasted the agency, saying NYCHA should have included residents in earlier discussions.

“You put a band aid on the wound, but the wound is there,” he said. “We’re working check by check like every other individual who is two checks away from being homeless. These are not objects. These are people that you’re dealing with.”

 

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Flushing Commons finally moves forward


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of New York City Economic Development Corporation

The long-delayed Flushing Commons project is finally starting this fall, with accommodations for parking and small business, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has announced.

The $850 million project, a decade in the making, got the green light Tuesday, March 12, and construction is planned to start later this year. The two-phase project will include more than 600 residential units, 500,000 square feet of commercial space and one of the largest YMCAs in the country.

“The new plan, which will maintain all existing parking spaces during construction, is the culmination of years of work to address community concerns,” said NYCEDC President Seth Pinsky. “We now look forward to the start of this critical project that will create thousands of jobs and a major mixed-used destination, complete with open space and a brand-new YMCA.”

More than 2,600 construction jobs and 1,900 permanent jobs are projected to come from this project.

A deal between the city and developers, The Rockefeller Group and Flushing-based TDC Development and Construction Corporation, is expected to be inked sometime this summer, according to the NYCEDC.

When the project is complete, there will be a total of 1,600 parking spaces, a 500-slot increase from what is currently there.

To ease parking problems and not disturb business, the project was split into two phases beginning first with the south side.

The 62,000-square-foot YMCA, with two pools, a full-size gym and an indoor running track, will headline the first phase of the project. Other components include 160 units of housing, 350,000 square feet of commercial space and a 1.5 acre space with a fountain plaza and amphitheater.

Phase 2 will have an additional 450 housing units, another 150,000 square feet of commercial space and 15,000 square feet of community space.

Borough President Helen Marshall said the phase split “also addresses the need for adequate parking during construction.”

Surrounding small businesses that could be affected by construction might be eligible for EDC’s business interruption program. The program, with $2.25 million set aside, can help eligible business owners with outreach and other means.

 

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LIC residents blame parking problems on Manhattanites


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

Long Island City dwellers have circled the block for the last time.

Residents of the rapidly-developing district, sick of searching for scarce parking, blame Manhattanites for using the neighborhood with lax street-side laws as their personal parking lot.

“It’s a convenient place for those living or working in Manhattan to leave their cars for the day or weeks,” said Peter Johnson, a Long Island City resident who claimed the problem has persisted for years.

One Manhattanite who works for Citicorp left her car parked at the edge of Johnson’s house for several months. She told him she occasionally stopped by during her lunch break just to turn the car on to recharge the battery.

“[She had] no qualms about taking the parking that should be for residents,” said Johnson.

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), street storage of vehicles is prohibited. On streets that are without regulations for alternate-side parking, including residential neighborhoods, cars are not allowed to remain in the same spot for seven consecutive days.

Johnson suggested resident parking stickers as a possible fix to the parking problem. The DOT said residential permits are not under consideration as the agency does not have the authority or funding to implement a system.

“We do know that people are leaving their cars on the streets for long period of time,” said Community Board 2 Chair Joe Conley.

In May of 2012, board members conducted an impromptu experiment, scrawling dates and times on cars in dust along 47th Avenue and 48th Avenue to track their movement. Cars didn’t move for several weeks.

As part of a separate cleanliness initiative, Community Board 2 reached out to the Department of Sanitation (DSNY) in hopes of bringing street cleaning to the neighborhood. Conley believes the parking regulations necessary for street cleaning will alleviate some traffic tension.

“Throughout the rest of the district we have alternate side parking so cars have to move,” said Conley. “In Hunters Point we don’t have restrictions so cars can stay there forever.”

Conley also believes the area’s booming population and residential upswing has attributed to parking woes. The formerly industrial neighborhood, which mainly saw circulation increase during week days, is now subject to seven straight days of traffic. Conley added that while LIC has always suffered from a serious parking shortage, turnover of parking is essential to residents and businesses in the neighborhood.

 

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Parkland at center of MLS stadium project


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

DSC_0985w

Major League Soccer (MLS) officials presented plans for a 25,000-seat stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park to the Queens Borough Board on Monday, December 3.

But while the league promised the board that soccer would be a good neighbor to the community, questions arose regarding parking, access, replacement of the 10 to 13 acres of parkland that would be eaten up by the stadium.

Professional soccer could kick off as soon as 2016, should the project be approved, said MLS President Mark Abbott. He acknowledged this was a lofty but plausible goal for the league.

Abbott assured the board that seven of the nine existing recreational soccer fields would be completely refurbished before the first shovel breaks ground at the stadium site at what is now the Fountain of Planets. By making the borough’s largest park its home, Abbott said MLS is committed to investing in the park and “making it better for the people who use [it].”

“The idea is, we’re coming here to be a partner with the park.”

Roughly 20 to 25 games would be played at the stadium per season, Abbott said, which includes an average of 17 regular season home games. Although the stadium would be within earshot of Citi Field and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the league plans not to host any games when the Mets are playing, or during the two weeks of the U.S. Open, alleviating congestion.

Regardless, many are concerned that parking for games will spill into the neighboring community and disturb residents’ day-to-day life.

League officials are currently working with the Mets to reach an agreement to use their parking facilities — mainly the lot that used to be Shea Stadium — but do not have a time frame for when executives will sit down with Mets management, Abbott said.

But one of the biggest concerns was where the parkland would be replaced.

Abbott, fielding questions from board members and councilmembers, said MLS will not pick a site for the lost acres without getting full community feedback from the surrounding neighborhoods.

“We’ve started to look at some sites, but that’s something we need the community’s input on,” Abbott said.

The league has set up several town hall meetings in or around the park to hear the community’s thoughts of where they would like to see new greenspace.

Councilmembers Peter Vallone and Mark Weprin agreed that before any official stance could be taken on the proposal, a dedicated, well-researched site for the new land has to be chosen.

“I don’t think we can responsibly take a position until we know all the details,” Vallone said. “Especially regarding what parkland would replace the park. This has to be parkland that effectively replaces and is as usable as this parkland is.”

Weprin said he was currently open minded to the idea, but many of the concerns first had to be addressed before any decision could be made.

“I think it could be great for economic development in the area,” he said. “But there are a lot of concerns that I would like to see addressed before we approve it. To reject it out right would be a mistake.”

Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, however, hopes Queens residents will oppose the project, saying that any replaced land would never be the same as that lost to the project.

“These things are never of equal value, and never of equal usefulness,” he said. “And the community always gets ripped off.”

Jackson Heights parking problem may get a solution


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/PHOTO BY ALEXA ALTMAN

Circling the block, searching for a parking spot and scrounging for quarters may become a thing of the past for drivers in Jackson Heights.

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) proposed PARK Smart plan promises to improve parking conditions by increasing time limits, upping prices and altering hours of operation in order to raise turnover rates and quell congestion by encouraging motorists to park no longer than is necessary.

The DOT has installed the PARK Smart program in two other city neighborhoods: Greenwich Village in Manhattan and Park Slope in Brooklyn. In Greenwich Village, street parking runs $5 per hour between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. and in Park Slope, parking from noon to 7 p.m. costs $2 per hour. According to the DOT, after the program was implemented in Park Slope, the number of unique vehicles parked street side jumped by 18 percent while parking duration decreased by 20 percent and traffic volume decreased by seven percent. The DOT spokesperson said similar results were recorded in Greenwich Village.

According to the DOT spokesperson, the city agency ended a PARK Smart pilot program on Madison Avenue in Manhattan after a year, due to unique parking demands, adjacent land uses and off-street parking costs.

The increased parking price in Jackson Heights has yet to be determined.

Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership, said his group welcomes the PARK Smart program to the neighborhood and applauds the DOT’s effort to enhance what has become a busy commercial corridor.

“If the program goes as planned, we should see curbside parking spots free up more frequently,” said Taylor. “That means less double parking, quicker travel times for MTA buses, smoother deliveries to our ground floor businesses, and overall a more pleasant shopping experience on 82nd Street.”

Carlos Trujillo, a manager at La Pequeña Colombia Restaurant on Roosevelt Avenue, was confident that the new program is going to boost his business, allowing guests to enjoy a lengthier meal without the stress of a possible ticket looming over their evening.

“The customers are going to be calmer because they don’t have to watch the meter during their meal,” said Trujillo.

He recalled several years back when a quarter bought more time at a meter than just 15 minutes, just as a frazzled motorist ran into the restaurant and hurriedly request change for the meter.

The Community Board is expected to vote on the implementation of the Jackson Heights PARK Smart plan later this fall.

Tennis Center parking plans not met with Love


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Phil Hertling

Officials and advocates are currently volleying parking plans at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Designs for new structures to relieve parking problems at the center will not breach the area allocated to the U.S. Open rented from the city, a Tennis Association representative said. But park advocates say that any new, permanent construction is too much.

Some became vocal about the recently-announced plans to revamp the center — expected to begin next fall — arguing that adding parking spaces to the plan would infringe on the green space of the borough’s largest park, and convert public space into commercial.

Daniel Zausner, managing director of the Tennis Center, said plans to expand on parking would not affect any additional areas of the park; rather, parking structures are expected to be built on the center’s existing lots.

“We’re taking our existing parking lots in that perimeter and building up,” Zausner said. “The most critical thing is we’re not impacting the spot in a footprint perspective.”

The two lots the center currently has, Zausner said, accommodate a little more than 300 spots. With one lot getting a two-tiered structure, and the other a three-tiered, the center will be able to park about 800 cars total. That is still a stretch for the thousands of people the center sees a day when the U.S. Open takes place, Zausner said.

Green space supporters, however, said even building a structure was too much. Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said the Tennis Center was still violating its rental agreement with the city.

“This isn’t a commercial area,” he said. “It’s public park and most certainly [parking garages] will encourage more cars to come in.”

Kim Ohanian, third vice chair of Community Board 7 and head of the board’s Parks Committee, said bringing more cars in would also have an environmental effect on the park.

Ohanian added that the Tennis Center needed to promote taking mass transit as opposed to driving when attending the U.S. Open.

The center had some 600 spots allocated at what is now World Ice Arena, but lost the site when ground broke on the project more than 10 years ago. Since then, the city did not compensate for parking, aside from city parking in Shea Stadium’s parking lot. When Citi Field was completed, however, the Mets took full control of the parking, Zausner said.

Parking just got more pleasant


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Newly approved legislation is providing drivers with peace of mind by curbing unfair parking fines.

Councilmember James Gennaro joined community leaders and residents to celebrate the passage of a law requiring any parking ticket to be cancelled upon the presentation of a valid muni-meter receipt no later than five minutes after the violation is issued. Under the current law, tickets cannot be cancelled once issued by a traffic enforcement agent, even if a driver shows a valid muni-meter receipt – forcing citizens to appeal the violation in court or pay the fine.

“This is a common-sense law,” said Gennaro, who sponsored the bill. “If you park your car at a metered spot and you walk to the muni-meter to pay for it, you’re playing by the rules. And if there’s a parking agent close by, or you’re elderly and walk slowly or there’s someone in front of you at the muni-meter terminal, you shouldn’t be penalized as if you were trying to cheat the system.”

The City Council initially passed the bill in January, but it was vetoed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg a month later. The mayor’s veto was ultimately overruled by the council on March 28 by a vote of 47 to 2. The law will officially take effect on September 24, allowing the city 180 days to change its parking scanners to be able to cancel violations immediately.

“This law is great news for small business owners in Queens and throughout the city,” said Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “When drivers are unfairly ticketed for parking on the street, small businesses suffer, too. The shoppers effectively blame the merchant – they don’t come back.”

Business owners echoed Friedman, emphasizing that parking tickets may deter patrons from returning to certain areas.

“It’s going to make a difference,” said Wendy Marsh, owner of Marsh Optical and former president of the Union Turnpike Merchants Association. “It’s enough that they get tickets all the time here anyway. People get tickets, they don’t want to shop here.”

Drivers have also expressed relief that they no longer have to fret about being hit with a ticket.

“I think it’s only reasonable to extend the five minutes to people. It was unfair that they previously didn’t do this,” said John Sotirakis, a resident of Bayside who frequently uses muni-meter parking spots on Bell Boulevard. “I was lucky that it never happened to me, but sometimes I’d have to stop and speak to a parking agent when they were lingering around so that they wouldn’t give me a ticket while I was going to the meter. This is much better now – there is less pressure.”

Short-term parking announced in Long Island City


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

Fed up with commuters using their neighborhood as a parking lot, residents and community leaders of Long Island City banded together with the Department of Transportation, (DOT) and announced the reduction of 12-hour parking meters.

The new meter regulation, which accounts for 39 spots where Vernon Boulevard meets Borden Avenue, one block from the No. 7 Train, will now only allow two-hour parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said that this new parking rule will keep commuters from hogging the spots while they work in Manhattan.

“Long Island City is not a parking lot,” said Van Bramer. “It is a thriving community where thousands have come to live and where we are seeing many businesses open every month. For Long Island City residents and businesses this is a welcome announcement.”

Businesses along the thriving Vernon Boulevard made numerous overtures for DOT officials to review the neighborhood’s parking regulations, making the claim that long term parking was hurting business and a short term parking plan more suited the area.

“Long Island City is not just a commuter stop on the way to Manhattan,” said Sheila Lewandowski, executive director of The Chocolate Factory, a theater in L.I.C. “A lot of people come here to eat and to shop – these new regulations will help ensure that when people park here, they are spending their money here.”

Mike Del Rey, owner of Bricktown Bagels on Vernon Boulevard for five years, said that parking has been a constant headache for him and his customers since opening in the neighborhood. He said that these new rules will enable bagel buyers to run in and get a quick breakfast.

“L.I.C. needed this,” he said. “I’ve only been here for five years, and I’m sure we needed this long before then.”

Maura McCarthy, Queens Borough Commissioner of the DOT, said that the new regulations will be studied and reviewed, and more changes could be on the way.

“Adjusting meter regulations can go a long way toward increasing parking options for Long Island City residents, visitors and businesses,” she said. “We are glad to work closely with local elected officials to make parking easier.”

Van Bramer also announced short-term metered parking was being added and parking regulations were adjusted along Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, making parking more accessible for motorists, especially to customers of local businesses lining the corridor.

No ticket while getting your ticket


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

New legislation is aiming to please drivers by “parking” many of their muni-meter tickets.

The City Council recently passed a bill that will spare commuters the stress of receiving a parking ticket while retrieving their muni-meter receipt. Prior to the bill, if a driver presented a valid receipt to a traffic enforcement agent, there was no way for the agent to revoke the ticket.

The legislation, which was introduced by Councilmember James Gennaro, requires a ticket to be cancelled if a valid receipt is shown no later than five minutes after the issuance of the violation. The canceled ticket would read, “Valid muni-meter receipt shown, ticket canceled,” and would include the number printed on the muni-meter receipt — sparing drivers the inconvenience of appealing the ticket by appearing in court.

“New York City drivers feel enough anxiety every day already without having to worry about getting a ticket while they’re walking to the muni-meter,” Gennaro said. “By ensuring that premature violations are canceled if a receipt is shown within five minutes of the ticket being written, my bill will bring a little peace of mind to residents who are trying to do the right thing and pay for their parking.”

The bill was co-sponsored by Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who also supported approved legislation declaring the presentation of a valid muni-meter receipt as a viable defense for the failure to display the voucher on a dashboard.

“It’s absurd to think that they could place a muni-meter a half block from where you’ve parked, force you to walk to obtain a receipt, and then ticket you as you’re returning to your car — but it happens,” Vallone said. “Once again, we had to write legislation to combat something that should never have been occurring in the first place.”

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, praised the bill for the positive effects it will have on small businesses.

“Allowing a ticket to be canceled upon the showing of a valid receipt no later than five minutes after the issuance of the ticket is both fair and reasonable,” Friedman said in a letter to Gennaro. “Before the introduction of this law, even people attempting to comply with the law were penalized. Small business owners have enough to contend with in today’s economy. Scaring consumers from metered spots certainly didn’t help.”

Drivers shared feelings of frustration that the legislation was not in place from the start, while also expressing relief for no longer being at risk of receiving an unjustified ticket.

“It has been a horror because I have received a couple tickets while I was walking to the meter,” said Antonietta Mandione, a Bayside resident. “I tried to fight them in court and I never won. I always had to pay the ticket, and it wasn’t fair. If it is raining or snowing someone could slip, and I have to drag my kids with me and run back to my car. The parking agents are fast in giving out tickets. This new law will save us a lot of time in running to the meter. It is going to be a big improvement because we won’t have to kill ourselves to get back to the car. The city [didn’t have this law from the beginning] because it wants to collect more money from us.”