Monday, December 27, 2010

Residents and Pols Vow to Continue Fight Against Meter Hikes

By Eric Yun

With New York City seeking ways to close its midyear budget deficits, a proposal from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to raise the rates on parking meters was met with resistance by local residents, business owners and politicians.

On Sunday, Council Members James Vacca (D-Bronx) and Diana Reyna (D-Brooklyn) held a press conference at the Ridgewood Memorial Triangle located at the intersection of Myrtle and Cypress Avenues. Calling the proposal “penny- wise and pound-foolish,” Vacca and Reyna promised they would fight the Mayor’s proposal and introduce legislation to prevent further hikes.

Meter rates were stagnant at 50 cents per hour for 17 years. In 2009 the rates were raised to 75 cents per hour. The current proposal would raise the price to one dollar per hour. At city munimeters, an hour of parking would cost three dollars, up from $2.50.

“This Band-Aid approach to the budget is unsustainable and empties the pockets of consumers and merchants, while the economy is still recovering,” said Reyna. “We are sending the wrong message when we continue to burden working fami- lies, who are watching where every quarter is being spent.”

Vacca and Reyna said motorists are being priced out of the city, which would be a huge economic blow for outer-borough communities like Ridgewood.

“Motorists are being besieged by overzealous ticketing, gas prices over $3.25 and registration fees that seem to go up every year,” said Vacca. “The City is simply giving drivers another reason to turn their cars around and shop in the suburbs, where parking is free and there’s no risk of tickets.”

And after shopping in Long Island or New Jersey, residents might wonder if they are better off living in those neighborhoods, Vacca said.

Herman Hochberg, the founding president of the Ridgewood Local Development Company and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District agreed that raising parking prices could severely hamper small businesses.

“This isn’t Manhattan,” Hochberg said. “There are different people and a different culture here.” Without the amount of public transportation available, many residents of Queens are forced to take their cars to go shopping, Hochberg said.

Even with the protests over the fare hikes, Mayor Bloomberg can proceed through the Department of Transportation. In an attempt to curtail future hikes. Vacca and Reyna are co- sponsoring legislation that bars the city from raising prices more than 25 percent over any five-year period unless the City Council grants special authorization.

If that law were in place today, there would not be another hike until 2014, the Council Members said.

Many of the residents at the press conference seem resigned to the fact that the city will continue to make budget cuts that negatively affect them.

“The Mayor is raising everything,” said local resident Manny Ortiz. “They need to come up with a better solution.”

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