Thursday, December 9, 2010

Nickel and Diming Continues: City to Hike Meter Rates

The city’s proposal to raise rates at parking meters throughout the city, the second time in the last two years, has residents and elected officials voicing their displeasure.

The City Department of Transportation (DOT) will begin making changes in January as part of the city’s plans to close the budget gap. Meters that used to cost 75 cents per hour will rise to one dollar per hour, and parking spaces that cost $2.50 per hour will become $3.00 per hour.

Queens has more than 17,000 parking meters.

Many community activists are worried these changes will hurt small businesses around commercial strips.

“This appears to be déjà vu all over again,” said Maria Thomson, executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District. “This will really hurt small mom-and-pop stores on Jamaica Avenue and deal a painful blow to local commercial strips across New York City.

Residents who depend on their cars can expect to pay more for parking and, as the plan is being implemented, get more tickets.

“This is a petty decision that will hurt average New Yorkers, like Woodhaven residents, who have to park on the street in order to go about their daily lives,” said Edward Wendell, President of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA).

For more than 17 years, city parking meters were 50 cents per hour. In the spring of 2009, the city changed to the current 75 cents per hour with little fanfare or notice, causing many confused residents to receive parking tickets.

“I hope the DOT at least has the decency this time to post signs informing everyone of the change,” Wendell said.

Politicians are not pleased with these new changes. James Vacca (D-Bronx), Chair of the City Council’s Transportation Committee, promised to fight parking rate increases.

“Once again, the city is digging into the pockets of the little guy to balance its budget, with nor regard for the middle-class communities that are fighting to stay afloat,” Vacca said.

Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), also a member of the Transportation Committee agreed. “Talk about a lousy Christmas gift! People won’t even be able to go shopping without the city nickel and diming them at every turn.”

Residents in Woodhaven are gearing up for a fight. WRBA officials are planning to work with local elected officials and community organizations to oppose the plans. Last year, when rates were raised, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Queens and Brooklyn), State Senator Joe Addabbo (D-Howard Beach), Thomson and local business owners held a press conference on Jamaica Avenue.

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