2009-04-24 / Top Stories

Weiner: Spike In Parking Fees

But Some Ignore Meters
By Howard Schwach

Shoppers on Beach 129 Street in Rockaway say they often ignore the parking meters and some did not even know the price had been increased. Shoppers on Beach 129 Street in Rockaway say they often ignore the parking meters and some did not even know the price had been increased. A few weeks ago, you could have put a quarter in a Beach 129 Street parking meter and enjoyed a halfhour of shopping without worrying about a ticket.

Today, without a word of warning or signage from the Department of Transportation, you will get only 20 minutes of shopping for your quarter.

That is true, as well, at the Muni-meters on Beach 116 Street, Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Beach Boulevard and everywhere else in Queens as well.

"The increase in parking tickets and meter rates along Queens shopping strips are driving customers away from already struggling small business," said Congressman Anthony Weiner last week as he put a quarter in a meter on Jamaica Avenue. "The city increased the cost of the meters by 63 percent, without any warning and without any community input. Queens shoppers are being nickel-and-dimed to death and small business owners are feeling the pinch. We want shoppers to use our local shopping areas, not be driven to the big malls outside the city."

Congressman Anthony Weiner puts a quarter in a parking meter on Jamaica Avenue, joined by State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. and local business owners. Congressman Anthony Weiner puts a quarter in a parking meter on Jamaica Avenue, joined by State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. and local business owners. While the change in the cost of the meter from a quarter for a half-hour to a quarter for 20 minutes, was only recently implemented on Beach 129 Street, it has been in effect since before last summer on Beach 116 Street and the areas surrounding the shopping street.

The reaction from store owners and shoppers on Beach 129 Street was mixed when a Wave reporter hit the street on Tuesday.

By and large, none of those questioned wanted to be identified, the store owners because they did not want to anger customers with their answers and the shoppers because most of them either ignore the meters completely or did not know of the recent change in cost.

"A lot of my customers are complaining about the change," one long-time store owner said. "They never bothered to look at the meter to see how much time they had, and some got tickets. What can you do, the city needs the money and this is how they get it."

"I don't like paying more, but I usually double-park or ignore the meters anyway. If I get a ticket, I get a ticket. There is not enough parking anyway, so you do what you have to do," said one customer coming out of Dunkin Donuts. "It's not as bad as Manhattan, where you get seven minutes for a quarter and they give more tickets."

"People complain, but most people park for an hour, so it costs them $.75 instead of $.50. That's no big deal," said another store owner. "It supposedly moves customers along, and allows more people to come here to shop, but I haven't seen anything like that."

"Parking tickets, particularly those given for alternate side parking, were supposed to serve as a punishment for those who wouldn't follow the law," Weiner said. "Now, they have become a revenue stream and that is not what they were meant for."

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation said that parking meter fees had not been increased since 1992 and that the agency did not consider the reduction in time that each quarter allows an increase in the fee.

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