2009-02-20 / Letters

Addressing Bloomberg And The Rockaway Community

Dear Editor,

I live in Rockaway Park, but I want to let you know that I will not be parking on the streets here any more. I can't afford it.

Mayor Bloomberg, you're in a tough spot. You need to close the huge chasm of a budget gap in NYC and one of the ways you've decided to do this is issuing parking tickets to a degree that can only be described as harassment. Here in Rockaway Park there exists an arm of the police department that isn't at all connected to the 100th Precinct (though the tickets they write say they are). I will be referring to this "goon squad" as "PIRANHA." These Piranha sit in wait on Beach 116 Street. They jump on a car with the speed of light for any miscreant deed. Two weeks ago, I was given a ticket while I walked up the median to get the paper-stub that goes in the windshield. I walked back to my car to find a Piranha placing a ticket under my wiper. I said, "Look, I just walked over there to get the stub … here it is." But, I was plum out of luck. The new technology allows a ticket to be written in about 15 seconds. I was told to send a copy of the receipt with the ticket and plead "not guilty." My time … my dime, tough luck.

I told a friend of mine, who was coming to Rockaway from Penn Station on the "A" train, that I'd pick him up in front of the Beach 116 Street station.

I parked on the west side of the street and waited in my car until I saw people exiting the station. I didn't see my friend, and rather than drive up to the boardwalk to U-turn, I quickly jumped out of my car and ran across the street to see if I could see him inside. I was away from my car for about 45 seconds, since he was just inside the door. When I got back to my car with my friend, a Piranha was clicking away on his ticket machine. I protested. He didn't stop typing. A few seconds later, I have a ticket in my hand. Superheroes don't move this fast.

Today, was the last straw for me. I've been sick for a couple of days and had to run to Kings Pharmacy to pick up a prescription. I parked my car almost in front of the store, popped my quarter into the machine, got my little piece of paper and triumphantly stuck it on my dashboard. I was in the drug store for about three minutes. When I came out, there was a ticket on my windshield. The ticket was for parking in a truck loading zone. Sure enough the back end of my Miata was in the loading zone. Anyone using any amount of logic would say, "There are plenty of spots on the block, this person put the quarter in the machine, and just didn't realize that 18 inches of her rear end was past a phone pole that marks the loading zone."

I know what you are saying ... "Suck it up … you blew it ... just pay the fine and get on with your life." But I haven't been this closely scrutinized since I met my first husband's mother 31 years ago. We're human beings. Not perfect. No excuses ... but for Christ sake, these ankle-biters are sitting, watching, stalking, and waiting for anyone to put a toe over the line.

I'm writing to you, Mr. Bloomberg because I'd feel a little better about my contributions to bridge the NYC budget deficit if perhaps you might insist that the approximately 20 MILLION dollars owed for parking infractions by foreign diplomats in our city were also being paid.

This letter is also to the store owners on Beach 116 Street. I have always been determined to shop locally on my "main street," whenever possible. But, I'm sorry to say I just can't give you my business anymore. To the guys at Kings Pharmacy, you are the BEST. I love you, but I'm taking my business to Rite Aid. They have a parking lot. To the folks at The Original Ciro's, I love you, too. I'm addicted to your pizza but I won't be seeing you for slices any more. It's too risky. I'll be getting my slices at the other Ciro's near Waldbaum's. (Not nearly as good as yours, but they have a parking lot). To the guys at Station Liquors, the best thing you ever did was to acquire the 4 spots in the field next to your store. I can still see you for a bottle of wine now and again. But for Rogoffs, I'll be going to Staples. To the tobacco store, I'll " be stopping at the Exxon station. To Job-lot, I'll take care of the odds and ends shopping when I'm in Cedarhurst. To the pet store, yes, you guessed it. It's Petco for me. I can jump out of my car without giving it a thought within 50 feet of any of these stores. Safe and secure without having to look over my shoulder in a store parking lot.

And now, to my friends and neighbors; there are four of us sharing a driveway here (like many who live in the big houses in Rockaway Park). I always try to find a spot on the street whenever I can to ease the "driveway shuffle," but I'm sorry to say that I just can't afford it anymore since the following has occurred:

I got a ticket for parking in front of my friend's house. I was helping her move. The moving van was also in front of her house. Loading doors open, ramps down. My car doors and trunk were open. I was making trips into and out of her house carrying bundles of clothes. I was given a ticket for parking in the street during restricted hours. (This happened in the time it took me to run back in, grab a pile of stuff and get back out). The moving van also received a ticket. Not kidding.

In front of my house I got a ticket for taping my registration sticker above my inspection sticker. With all the technology and scientific advances, WHY can't the geniuses who make these stickers put glue on them that will actually last until the expiration date? The paper "residue" lasts a lifetime … but the glue ... not so much. My registration sticker started to buckle and warp a few months after it was put on. About a month prior to my expiration date, the brittle thing finally fell off the glass. There was residue stuck to the glass so I couldn't tape it back on exactly over the spot where it fell off. So, I just taped it right above my inspection sticker. That's not legal. Who knew?

Very recently I got two tickets for a misplaced license plate. These tickets were placed one on top of the other, given about three hours apart. (Gotta watch that shift change.) Earlier that evening in the pouring rain/sleet/snow and dark, I was driving by the construction zone in Arverne. Thank god I was only going about 15 miles an hour because of the lousy weather. I hit a pot-hole that was big enough to have its own zip code. In the rain it just looked like a big puddle. My car bottomed out in it but somehow I avoided falling into China. I was, at first, happy to have made it out alive. But then I heard a scraping noise. I pulled over to look under my car and was grateful to see that it wasn't a piece of my chasse. It was, however, my front license plate (that was banged off) hanging on one screw, scraping the pavement. I managed to get the screw off, and placed the plate on my dashboard. It was completely visible. I figured I would screw it back on when it was dry and light out tomorrow. I would have parked safely in my own driveway but I had no idea that I was (yet again) committing a punishable offense. So, I parked in the street in front of my house. In the morning there were TWO tickets making me aware that a license plate on a dashboard is a big "No-No."

I think it would really be nice if they would fix Rockaway's potholes in half the time it is taking you to read this whiny letter. But, I'm sorry to say that this efficiency is saved solely for the issuing of parking tickets. Honestly, such proficiency has never been seen before in any government run operation, EVER.

Now I'm going to have some cheese with my whine. Thanks for listening.
ASH MILLS

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