Senior to city: Sell me the parking spot in front of my home!

Allen Bortnick wants the city to rent him a parking space outside of his house on Shore Road, saying that disabled people should be able to have reserved spaces in residential neighborhoods.
Photo by Bryan Bruchman

Hey, Mayor Bloomberg — how much do you want for the parking spot in front of my home?

A disabled Bay Ridge civic activist tired of having to park blocks away from his apartment wants the city let him rent a space in front of his Shore Road building — and he’s willing to pay $600 a year for it!

Beloved Community Board 10 curmudgeon Allen Bortnick suffers from a neurological disorder that does not preclude him from battling the city over a wide range of issues on a regular basis — but it does make it difficult for him to walk more than 100 feet at a time.

So he believes he should be able to rent a parking space in front of his apartment building near 72nd Street for his beloved 1997 Ford Crown Victoria.

“It’s worth it to me because I can’t walk,” he said. “If I come back from a community board meeting at 10 or 11 pm, I can’t find anywhere to park.”

Bortnick says that his parking rental plan would not extend to everyone — just people with disabilities.

“The idea is not to make this a millionaires playground,” said Bortnick, 81. “I’m not asking for favors that I don’t deserve. It is just to provide legitimate handicapped people with a parking space so that they can survive.”

Under Bortnick’s proposal, the city would install poles in residential areas bearing placards that say the spot is reserved for the bearer of the listed license plate.

His idea is somewhat in step with some borough lawmakers who wanted to give residents living near the soon-to-be opened Barclay’s Arena the ability to purchase parking permits for their blocks. Residents would not have been guaranteed a spot, but roughly eight out of every 10 spaces on residential streets near the arena would have been reserved for permit holders.

The proposal passed the City Council, but died in Albany when state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), who opposes street parking permits, stopped the bill from coming to a vote.

“The idea that someone would have to pay to park in front of their own home is ludicrous,” Golden said at the time. “This is nothing more than another tax on our communities.”

Golden did not respond to a phone call seeking comment on Bortnick’s idea.

But Bortnick’s plan has one major flaw — his $600 offer is way too low.

If the city were to entertain such an idea, the fee would have to be in line with current city parking garage rates, which, on average, amount to $170 a month. If Bortnick was allowed to rent a spot in front of his home, he would probably have to pay more than $2,000 a year.

Still, other disabled Ridgites think Bortnick’s plan should be considered.

“I think it’s a good idea for people who have a real problem walking,” said Jean Ryan, a wheelchair-confined Ridgite who regularly lobbies on behalf of local disabled people.

And at least one Bay Ridge legislator is listening to Bortnick’s pleas.

“Designating handicapped parking spaces in residential areas is something we are currently looking at,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge). “However, the idea is in the very early preliminary stages right now.”

Currently, disabled drivers with city handicapped permits can park in any no-parking zone — except for taxi stands or spaces reserved for doctors, press, diplomats and government employees. They cannot park in front of hydrants or in bus stops.

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