Parking war! Ridgites say city must attack those stealing parking spots

Ridge to city: Cut out curb cuts
The Brooklyn Paper / Ben Muessig

Bay Ridge’s legendary parking problem is in the crosshairs of residents who say the city needs to punish the people who literally steal the few available spots.

Illegal driveways persist in the neighborhood’s residential areas and illegal valet parking infects its commercial strips, so residents are declaring that it’s time the city starts attacking those that cause the problem, and stop going after those that are victims of it.

To stop illegal curb cuts — where a homeowner adds a driveway to his house without a permit — the city needs to be able to fire back at the offending homeowner.

“The city should have a right to come in and repair it, then [make the homeowner pay] double the cost,” said Steve Harrison, the chair of Community Board 10’s zoning committee. “And if you put one in illegally, and it could have been legal, you then shouldn’t be allowed to put one in at all.”

Presently, the city can only fine the offender, but not force him to undo the damage. Worse, added Harrison, motorists who block the illegal driveways end up with tickets because police don’t know the curb cut shouldn’t be there. In that case, Harrison says the homeowner should be responsible for that ticket — and then some.

“I really believe the homeowner should pay that,” he said. “And maybe double.”

And illegally valet parked cars need to be ticketed as well.

Doris Cruz, the chairwoman of CB10’s transportation committee, thinks that business that use valet parking services are less likely to be ticketed for double-parking, and blocking driveways and fire hydrants than drivers who do the same thing.

“If I come home after 10 pm Thursday through Saturday, one lane is missing because of cars double-parked by valets,” said Cruz, who lives on 99th Street by Fourth Avenue. “They pretty much double park and there is unequal enforcement. A valet parker comes along and blocks your driveway.”

Valet parking services provided by businesses in New York City is illegal unless the business has an off-street parking lot to put the cars.

A solution to this problem may be at hand: when CB10 backed 86th Street department store Century 21’s plans for a new parking garage on 87th Street in 2007, it was on condition that the store make the garage available to restaurants for valet parking in the evenings. Such a move would open up 400 spots — nearly 15 blocks of parking, says Harrison — for other businesses in the area.

This is something the board is now pursuing, said Cruz.

“We are hoping we can work out an arrangement for equitable valet parking in the neighborhood,” she said.

Whatever proposals the board comes up with are going to take some heavy lifting, members acknowledged. Solutions to illegal driveway problems would likely include legislative changes, which means it would be crafted to conditions across the city, not just in Bay Ridge.

The board is hoping to have its “Parking Fairness Initiative” plan in place by next month, said CB10 Chairwoman Joanne Seminara.