City meters still in effect as parking on residential streets remains congested

A car parked at a meter in Brooklyn.
Photo by Trey Pentecost

Despite long stretches of shuttered businesses along the city’s main thoroughfares, and low turnover for parking spaces amid the shelter-in-place orders, city officials have refused to halt parking meter collections — perplexing locals who claim the situation is unbearably “horrendous.”

“Parking is horrendous around here,” said Mike Kieran of his Bensonhurst neighborhood. “And now that everybody is staying home and more people are calling in sick, it’s getting really bad around here.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio has suspended alternate-side parking on city streets until April 28, after first calling it off on March 17, but city officials have shown no intention of halting meter collection.

Instead, on April 17, city transportation honchos announced that meters would temporarily accept payment using the nationwide phone application ParkMobile, in addition to payments on its own app, ParkNYC, in an effort to encourage drivers against a physical interaction with the meter.

“DOT is asking all New Yorkers who can to switch to Pay-By-Cell, which will reduce the need for physical cash transactions at our 14,000 parking meters. Contactless Pay-By-Cell reduces exposure risk for the public and our workforce,” said Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “Please help us reduce the need to physically service parking meters and collect, sanitize and securely store cash during this crisis.”

Transportation officials said in a statement that metered parking enforces curb turnover which provides better access to essential businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies and medical providers. 

Meanwhile, borough residents lamented to Brooklyn Paper last month that, as residents continue sheltering in place, parked cars are mostly staying put, leaving neighborhoods more congested than ever — something, locals like Kieran suggested, could be alleviated by allowing long-term parking on metered commercial corridors.

Kieran lives off of Bensohurst’s 18th Avenue, where he said a majority of businesses are closed with designated parking spaces that could take on some overflow from the packed residential roads.

“The pharmacies and grocery stores are only on certain blocks,” he told Brooklyn Paper. “And [on] the rest of the blocks, you have about a half-mile of closed stores.”

Gravesend Assemblyman William Colton has called for the suspension of metered parkings and launched an online petition on March 26 that has received 374 signatures as of Friday. 

“Now that many stay home for their safety, parking is scarce. So this becomes an issue, constantly going out to feed the meters,” Colton said. “We are in a crisis and the city should not be worried about making money — peoples’ lives are at stake!”