Rogue auto-body shops are turning a portion of Coney Island Avenue into a traffic nightmare by hogging up crucial public and private spaces, illegally double parking cars, and leaving the vehicles in stagnant puddles of water, say outraged neighborhood residents and businesses, who are hoping that the Flatbush mechanics mend their ways before everyone is forced to move to greener parking pastures.
Merchants near Cortelyou Road claim that auto-repair shops on the avenue take in more vehicles than they have space for and end up leaving the cars on the street, in driveways, or double-parked on the busy boulevard.
“Our business has quite a few trucks and we can’t find places to park,” said Ronnie DiAgostino, who says she and her boss at Greene Roofing call 311 everyday to complain about the double parking and blocked driveways. “The businesses around us are rude and inconsiderate — they don’t care about anybody else in the neighborhood but themselves.”
Other merchants claim the auto-businesses skirt city law by leaving their cars on the street without plates. Some of the unregistered cars hog metered spaces on the block for days at a time while avoiding tickets. But the repair shops still wash and hose down the cars — creating huge puddles that remain on the street for days.
DiAgostino believes that an area auto-shop worker purposely broke or jammed most of the parking meters on the block so he could park his cars there — a problem she claims earns her an average of two parking tickets a week.
Drivers too, have complained about the problem: parked and idling cars often clog one of Coney Island Avenue’s two lanes during rush hour, creating a traffic blockade on the already busy artery, they claim.
“Every time I drive down, everyone is double-parked,” said Morris Sacks, Community Board 14’s transportation committee chairman. “It greatly slows down traffic.”
On a recent visit to the block, reporters from this paper saw many cars double-parked on the block. Many of the vehicles awaiting body-work were sitting in metered spaces.
Yet the auto businesses deny that they are the problem — and that the lack of parking on Coney Island Avenue affects their business as well.
“It’s really a problem,” said Mamaduo Diallo, a worker at the Auto Repair Shop on Coney Island Avenue. “Every two minutes I have to go outside and tell people to move their cars.”
Police did not return calls for comment — though some merchants say cops have begun cracking down on the issue.
But others claim cops haven’t done enough enforcement — giving them no choice but to pack up and leave.
“Every time the street was blocked up for three or four blocks,” said Tony Isana, who moved his shop of 17 years to Schenectady Avenue because parking on Coney Island Avenue had gotten so bad. “They were blocking my clientele from coming in to my facility. It was ridiculous.”