Church Ave. parking fix causing pain for driver$

The city’s ban on parking for shoppers along Church Avenue so trucks can make deliveries during a good portion day is paying dividends — in parking tickets.

Shoppers accustomed to parking in front of their favorite shops on the strip between E. 16th and E. 21st streets during prime shopping hours have been getting hit with tickets, thanks to three-month-old rules that allow only trucks making deliveries to park.

Delivery drivers and community leaders are cheering the policy, which they say keeps traffic moving through a notoriously clogged spot. But shoppers — and some merchants — are annoyed with the measure, which they believe was done at the expense of shoppers.

“It’s terrible,” said Kathy Brown, who tried to park in front of a grocery store at E. 19th Street before a traffic agent moved her along. “They’re delivering what I’m buying — they should just deliver earlier.”

Paul Newell didn’t see the sticker posted on parking meters warning drivers not to park until he got out of his car to feed the meter.

“If I want to buy something, where am I supposed to park?” said the exasperated shopper.

Other merchants said that the delivery window on the north side of the street — which lasts from 7 am to 3 pm — is too long and it’s cutting into their bottom line. The parking ban on the south side of the street ends three hours earlier.

“Traffic-wise it’s better, because there’s not much double-parking, but for customers, there’s fewer coming in because there’s less room to park,” said Sam Sallmeh, manager of Palm Jewelery at E. 19th street.

“I would like it to be from 7 to 10 am because the delivery people usually come early in the morning; by 10 am they’re usually done.”

The Church Avenue Business Improvement District reports that sales are down in stores that depend on consumers arriving by cars.

But Community Board 14 unilaterally lauded the move, and members said they’d like to see the policy extended across the district — especially to other congested strips on Nostrand and Flatbush Avenues.

The business improvement district said it is still seeking ways to allow non-commercial vehicles to park during the delivery window. The group also wants to shorten the delivery window by an hour from Ocean Avenue to E. 18th Street, where stores rely more on customers who drive.

“It’s still the pilot program; there’s still room for tweaking it,” said Lauren Collins, executive director of the business improvement district.

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