Ninth Street business owners say their bottom line is suffering due to a lack of parking spaces on the two-way strip, thanks in part to rampant illegal parking by United States Postal Service employees and a new road design that restricts double parking.
“There should be a lot of cars pulling in and out on that block, but we walk down the block and every other car has a postal hat and shirts in the window,” said Lauren Kotsis, owner of the Bagel Pup, which is located one door down from the Ninth Street post office.
The parking spaces on Ninth Street are metered, but USPS employees – whose placard abuse along the east-west thoroughfare has been well documented in the Brooklyn Paper – skirt regulations by displaying agency merchandise on their dashboards, leading NYPD meter maids to give them a pass and creating an unfair system that is harming small businesses, according to Kotsis.
“We’re paying $300 for a parking space so we don’t illegally park or double park,” she said. “They should get to work early like everybody else.”
USPS previously stripped Ninth Street employees of their placards after the Brooklyn Paper uncovered widespread abuse – but employees have now resorted to leaving hats or patches in their windows.
Jacob Tupper, a 29-year-old Greenpoint resident who passed by the Post Office on Wednesday, was outraged when he noticed the amount of USPS employees hogging spots.
“It makes it harder for business to get done,” he said. “I mean I believe in getting the mail, but taking advantage of it makes it harder for everyone who lives and works there.”
Naomi Dann, a spokesperson for Councilman Brad Lander (D—Park Slope) whose district office is around the corner from the offending Post Office, said his office has been working to solve the problem for some time, and that a staffer recently spoke to a Post Office representative, who said that local USPS management would double down on internal enforcement and reprimand employees who park illegally.
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment by deadline. A USPS spokeswoman said they are studying ways to minimize congestion — and added that USPS placards do not excuse employees from parking regulations.
Further complicating things, a 2018 road redesign added a bike lane and narrowed the driving lane, making it impossible to double park and quickly run into a business.
“Nobody can even pull over anymore,” said Larry, the owner of Fifth Avenue Key Store, located on Ninth Street, who would only give his first name. “I used to have customers that would say ‘all-right, wait in the car for a minute while I get a key.’ They can’t do that anymore.”
The protected bike lane on Ninth Street was upgraded from a standard bike lane in 2018, as part of a series of safety upgrades the city implemented after a horrific crash at Fifth Avenue left two children dead and sent three adults — including a pregnant woman who later miscarried — to the hospital.
Larry said he’s not against a bike lane in front of the store, but that he wishes the road design had left space for double parking. Ever since the redesign, Larry says traffic to his store has dropped off dramatically.
“They don’t come in no more because there’s no place to park,” he said. “This used to be one of the busiest stores in this area. If they can’t stop for just a second they’re not gonna come in.”
—With Joe Hiti and Colin Mixson