2012-10-19 / Top Stories

Far Rockaway Shopping Center: Park, Leave Lot & Be Towed

By Miriam Rosenberg

Signs are posted by the entrance to the Far Rockaway Shopping Center about the parking policy, but are they located in the right places for drivers to see them? Signs are posted by the entrance to the Far Rockaway Shopping Center about the parking policy, but are they located in the right places for drivers to see them? Park in the Far Rockaway Shopping Center, walk out of the lot to go elsewhere in the downtown business district and your car will immediately be towed.

That is the lesson one woman learned last week when she parked in the lot and then went across Central Avenue to the Far Rockaway library.

The Wave witnessed this last Saturday as the owner of the vehicle tried, without success, to get the driver of a tow truck to unhook her car after it was taken out of the lot and onto Mott Avenue. The woman told The Wave that she did not see the signs warning that the lot was only for patrons of the shopping center.

“I was not paying attention,” she said. But that cost her $150 to keep the driver from taking her car away.

And though drivers may not want to hear it, as long as the owner of the lot, Rita Stark, keeps the policy that is currently in effect, there is nothing that can be done. According to the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs website, “When a parking lot is reserved for customers and you’re not exclusively dealing with the proprietor’s business, it’s unlawful to park there, even for only a few minutes.”

Once a car is hooked to the tow truck, as it was in the above mentioned case, you cannot stop the tow unless you pay the tow company a fee; a fact that was confirmed by a police officer who was called to the scene.

The Consumer Affairs website explains the fees you could wind up paying a tow company if your car is towed from a private lot. They are for towing and three days of storage, $125. After three days it is $15 per day. There is a $62.50 “drop fee” for unhooking a car that is about to be towed.

The same company, B & M Towing, that tows cars from the Rockaway Commons Shopping Center – located along Rockaway Beach Boulevard from Beach 84 Street to Beach 90 Street – is charged with removing illegally parked vehicles in the Far Rockaway lot.

In the Commons Shopping Center posters about the towing policy were recently placed in the windows of the stores after a Wave article about the owners’ towing policy. In the Far Rockaway Shopping Center lot, it can be debated whether the signs posted are enough to warn drivers. They are only posted at the entrance. Watching drivers enter the Far Rockaway lot after the incident, The Wave noticed that not many drivers, if any, were looking in the direction of the signs. Drivers were looking straight ahead and not to the side where the signs are. Nor did it seem they were able to notice the sign facing the street as they turn into the lot from the opposite side of where it is posted.

Councilman James Sanders has been working with Stark to revitalize the Far Rockaway Shopping Center. The Wave attempted to contact Sanders’ chief of staff, Donovan Richards, to speak about the issue but he did not respond in time. The newspaper also attempted to contact B & M Towing, but they did not respond either.

There is another public parking lot opposite the subway on Beach 22 Street where drivers can park without the fear of towing.

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