No-arm bandits take more money on Fifth and Seventh Aves

No-arm bandits take more money on Fifth and Seventh Aves
Photo by Tom Callan

The city has once again hiked the cost of “Park Smart” meters on two retail-heavy Park Slope strips — but this time merchants are calling the increase dumb.

On Tuesday, the cost of peak-hour parking jumped from $1.50 to $2 on Fifth and Seventh avenues between Lincoln Place and 15th Street.

The price hike is part of a citywide increase in meter fees, but parking between noon and 7 pm will remain more expensive than during normal hours to increase turnover and shoo away cars that hog spaces.

Some longtime business owners say the price hike — which comes just three months after the same meters doubled from 75 cents — crosses a the line from reasonable to steep.

“It’s too much, too soon,” said Irene LoRe of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District. “People will take a train to shop downtown just drive to where parking is easier.”

In May, LoRe and fellow merchants supported raising the meter price from 75 cents to $1.50, saying the rate was high enough to increase turnover, but not so high that it would deter out-of-area shoppers.

That increase came after a 2007 traffic congestion study showed that a large percentage of cars in motion at any given time in Park Slope are simply looking for parking.

Two years later, the Department of Transportation began a program called PARK Smart that increased the rates from 75 cents to $1.50 per hour on a select portion of Fifth Avenue, between Sackett and Third streets, and on Seventh Avenue from Lincoln Place to Sixth Street.

As a result, the city suggested raising the $1.50 price to $2.25 — but that’s where Park Slopers started to object.

“It’s just a way for the city to make money,” said Jo-Ann Kalb, who runs Park Slope Copy Center on Seventh Avenue, arguing that fees so high would discourage customers.

This time, Hammerman said public discussion “wasn’t an option” because the Department of Transportation — which did not return calls — implemented the price hike citywide, as opposed to at the request of the community board.

LoRe, for one, thinks more discussion is warranted. “This is a big jump,” she said. “We could suffer.”

But Community Board 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman disagrees.

“It will be good for local business,” he said. “People will think more about their parking habits.”