Local Car Service Caught In City's 'Catch 22'
By Howard Schwach
A local car service owner says that the city will soon put him out of business if he can't solve the "Catch-22" dilemma that has him scratching his head and contacting local officials.
Bob Murphy, who is the owner and operator of Beach Car Service, says that he was forced to move from his old location at Beach 95 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard in November because his landlord had sold the building and the new owners wanted to use the space for something other than a car service.
Figuring that it would be easy to get his license switched to his new location at 91-13 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Murphy says that he went to the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to tell them about the move.
That's when his trouble started, he said.
"The commission told me that I needed a "Permissible Use Letter" from the Department of Buildings because the building was old and didn't have a certificate of occupancy," Murphy said. "The DOB told me that it would take at least three months to get the letter."
Murphy said that he didn't have three months to wait, that his move had taken place in late November.
A week later, he says, he got a letter from the DOB saying that he needed an Environmental Assessment Statement on the property before he could get the letter. After some checking, he found that it would cost more than $1,000 to get somebody knowledgeable to do that assessment survey.
Then, he got a letter from the TLC saying that his base operation license was suspended because he had moved without the agency's permission.
Out of business, he prepared the assessment statement himself and submitted it to the DOB.
Then, he says that he got a letter from the TLC saying that his submission could not be considered because he was under suspension and that he would remain under suspension until the agency approved his move, something it could not do because his submission had not been approved.
His next hearing before the TLC is scheduled for May 14.
"I have been shut down since April 20," Murphy said. "We have a lot of people, including frail and sick elderly people, who depend on us to get them where they need to go. This is having a very negative impact on our customers and they are going to go elsewhere. The city should not be in the business of shutting down small business people who always obey the law."
Allan Fromberg, a spokesperson for the city's Taxi and Limousine Commission said that he would get back to The Wave with a comment on this story, but did not do so by press time.