To residential parking permit — or not? That is the latest taxing question to confound Prospect Heights and Fort Greene residents since City Councilwoman Letitia James’s recent announcement that she intends to reheat Bloomberg’s residential parking permit leftovers — an indigestible portion of the mayor’s failed 2008 Congestion Pricing Plan.
Why here? Why now? Because Bruce Ratner’s NBA-Russo arena aims to attract some 19,000 people some 300 nights a year to the always impassable intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues. Taxpaying residents would have to pay yet another new tax — for the privilege of parking in their own hood? Why not keep outsider’s cars out instead? Or tax them?
A residential parking permit tax seems unfair. Ratner is already causing major traffic problems for the car-driving citizenry, having this year deprived Brooklyn of: one lane and sidewalk of Flatbush Avenue, one lane and sidewalk of Atlantic Avenue, one block of Fifth Avenue (R.I.P.), one Carlton Avenue Bridge, and two blocks of Pacific Street — streets where parking and pedestrianism have been forever free.
Ratner should be the one paying the penalty for encouraging car-dependant hordes to drive to his arena. He should be penalized for not persuading them to take advantage of one of New York City’s major mass transit hubs.
If a millionaire over-developer can just be given public streets, Ratner should be taxed for withdrawing those priceless streets from the grid. He should also be penalized for destroying historic buildings such as the magnificent Ward Bread Bakery, thereby blighting historic Prospect Heights for decades with acres of parking lots. The city should tax Ratner — say 20 percent of his take — so that the people of Prospect Heights, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill can continue to park on their neighborhood streets for free.
It is 22 years since Wayne Barrett and Jack Newfield wrote “The Big Apple: City for Sale,” but the sale continues apace. Sell the streets? Sell the bridges? Sell the 55,000 parking meters? Sell the residential parking? Enough already!
Patti Hagan is a 31-year resident of Prospect Heights.