2005-12-02 / Editorial/Opinion

Grass Or Concrete? Parking Rules Often Decide

Queens City Councilman Tony Avella is incensed because many people in his constituency are paving over their lawns to provide more parking spaces at their homes. We know what he means. Take a walk around the area where American Airlines Flight 587 crashed four years ago and you will find that one of the new homes built to replace a home demolished by the crash has no grass at all. There are a number of homeowners in the west end of Rockaway, where parking is often at a premium during the summer months, that are doing the same. “The pave-overs have become an eyesore and an affront to the whole notion of open space in our neighborhoods,” Avella said recently. “We need to preserve our open space, not destroy it.” One of Avella’s constituents had an answer that could be pure Belle Harbor. “Anyone who says that they’d rather have grass than concrete never tried parking a car around here,” the constituent retorted. “If you want grass, move to Long Island, where you’re allowed to park in front of your house.” Therein lies the problem. The restrictive and often unnecessary parking regulations in Rockaway Park, Belle Harbor and Neponsit force homeowners to find alternative parking solutions and one of those solutions seems to be changing lawns to parking areas. There are no city laws against paving over a lawn to provide parking, although there are restrictions on the number of cars that may be parked on a residential property. That restriction depends on the area of the plot and local zoning regulations. What paving over lawns does to community ambiance and the value of homes is not for us to say. What is for us to say, however is that many of those parking regulations are unnecessary. For example, why is it any more dangerous to allow parking on non-beach blocks from May to September than it is in the winter? Those rules were obviously made to keep DFD’s away from area beaches. It also keeps residents without access to a driveway from parking nearby their homes for several months of the year. Which serves the greater good: keeping people from our beaches or keeping residents from parking? You decide that for yourself. While that decision is being made, however, more lawns will be paved over to make parking spaces. Perhaps you see that as a plus, but we view it as a negative and we wish that parking regulations would be changed so that locals can find a place to park.

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