Bay Ridgites are furious that a handful of car dealerships along Fourth and Fifth avenues are breaking the law by parking their inventory on the sidewalk, blocking the path of pedestrians and forcing people in wheelchairs to roll into oncoming traffic.
Neighbors and community board members said there has been an uptick in complaints about the aggressive parking in recent months — especially along 89th Street — which has been a problem for years.
“I don’t even go down there anymore because I’m forced to go in the street,” said Jean Ryan, a wheelchair confined Ridgite who says she’s fed up with dealerships parking shiny new cars in the sidewalk. “Sidewalks are public; they’re not for certain people to park in.”
Some residents say there are too many dealers on the strip to begin with — but they cited Giuffre Hyundai on Fifth Avenue between 89th and 90th streets as the biggest traffic-clogging culprit.
“You have a bumper crop of car dealerships, and it’s not an ideal location for them,” said CB10 Chairwoman Joanne Seminara. “[Giuffre] double-parks cars for sale on 89th Street. Emergency vehicles are unable to get through there — and it’s on a school block.”
The manager at Giuffre Hyundai did not return a call for comment, and an employee there called the cops when our photographer exercised her right to take photos of the parking situation.
The manager of the nearby Bay Ridge Honda — which also had cars blocking the Fourth Avenue sidewalk between 88th and 89th streets last Thursday — denied his dealership uses the sidewalk as a showroom.
“We don’t display cars there. That’s not our property,” said Robert Sabbagh. “If it happened [on Thursday] it’s news to me.”
Sabbagh did admit that employees occasionally park cars on the sidewalk while moving them because space is tight.
“It’s like a Rubik’s Cube. If you pull car out, you have to move five,” he said.
Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) said he is working with the 68th Precinct to “crack down on this situation once and for all.”
But residents say it’s been going on far too long — and they don’t understand why cops can’t do something about the scofflaws.
“It seems to be pretty low priority for the cops,” said Ryan. “I wonder why this situation is allowed to continue.”
Capt. Richard DiBlasio, commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, did not respond to messages requesting comment.
On the plus side, car dealers provide an average of 79 jobs per dealership and are one of the few well-paying jobs in many neighborhoods, said Mark Schienberg, president of the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association. Entry-level mechanics make about $35,000 a year and master mechanics can earn $100,000. Clerical positions generally pay between $40,000 and $60,000 a year.
“Car dealerships are a significant part of the economy here in Bay Ridge,” said Pat Condren, executive director of the 86th Street Business Improvement District, who estimates that car sales and service represents the fourth largest industry in the area, behind the Army, health care services, and retail.
©2011 Community News Group
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