After 20 Years, The Issue Still Remains
20 years ago this week, The Wave ran an editorial by Publisher Leon Locke arguing that the parking restrictions in the west end were necessary because of the action of those down for the day. “We’ve watched cars leave the curb while depositing a bag of garbage on somebody’s lawn. We’ve seen empty beer bottles thrown from cars, only to shatter on the street. We’ve seen people park in driveways, people break out hibachis and begin to cook on somebody’s lawn, people urinating and defecating in the bushes around houses. Leave us at least our parking restrictions. Leave us some form of dignity.” The editorial was in response to a spate of published reports in both the daily papers and on television about the parking restrictions, asking, “Why have those people [in Rockaway] been chosen to have a private beach on public property?” That question remains, particularly in light of the recent interest in the Coastal Zone Management Act, which seems to be written to punish municipalities that limit access to their beaches. One could reasonably argue that the city’s parking restrictions in Rockaway do limit access to west end beaches in violation of the act. The argument that safety issues mandate the restrictions is blatantly ridiculous. How can it be unsafe to park on the street on summer weekends when it is not unsafe to park there the remainder of the year? That safety contention would never hold up in a court of law. There are a number of things the city can do, however, to ameliorate the problem without opening the parking floodgates. First of all, there is no reason to restrict weekend parking from May 15 to September 30. The beach season runs from June 1 to September 1. The No Parking regulations can be held to those dates. Secondly, there is no reason to begin the restriction at midnight. Nobody goes to the beach between midnight and 8 a.m. and the restriction only forces local residents to get off the street early. If there must be a restriction, move it from its present midnight to midnight to 8 a.m. on Saturday until 8 p.m. on Sunday night. That is much more reasonable. To keep the feds out of our business, however, we are going to have to cut the restrictions entirely or make them less restrictive for outsiders, perhaps by providing some type of parking permits that would allow both locals and visitors to park for the summer on the payment of a $100 or $200 fee. Most people would consider that reasonable and the courts have already ruled in some Nassau County cases that parking fees are allowed. We have to do something, or sooner rather than later, the federal government will do it for us.