2009-07-17 / Editorial/Opinion

If It's Broken, Fix It

The City Council, concerned in 2005 that churchgoers would have to run from their pews to feed parking meters, passed a law over the Mayor's objections that ended the requirement to pay for Sunday parking at both meters and Muni-meters throughout the city. We editorialized at the time that the new law made sense for most areas, but not for beachfront areas such as Rockaway. We predicted that locals would sit on those parking spots from 7 p.m. on Saturday evening, when the meters ended, to early on Monday morning, when the requirement to feed the meters went back into effect. Our then City Councilman, Joseph P. Addabbo Jr., said that he would seek an exemption for Rockaway and other beach areas should the change cause a problem. Then, he left for the State Senate. And, the new law has become a problem. We have had constant complaints from business owners on both Beach 129 Street and Beach 116 Street that the new law is forcing them out of business. We were getting a haircut in an establishment on Beach 116 Street on Sunday, having grabbed the last parking slot in the municipal lot. At least five people called the establishment to cancel appointments, stating that they could not find a parking spot anywhere in the area and therefore were giving up and going home. "Sunday is my big day, and now I've lost a quarter of my customers," one forlorn hairdresser said. We did a quick check of the cars parked on the Beach 116 block on Saturday evening and then returned to the street late on Sunday afternoon. The great majority of the cars that were there on Saturday were still in place. There was very little of the turnover that parking meters generally bring. Store owners on Beach 129 Street, where parking is always an adventure, fare even worse. Restaurants lament that reservations are broken and some call for takeout because they won't come to the street on a Sunday. Something must be done. The City Council should revamp the law to exempt such waterfront areas as Rockaway and City Island. Once again, the city is driving small business owners out of business with a well-meaning but inept law.

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