Un-park it! Ridge pol’s bill would close car dealerships that clog sidewalks

Un-park it! Ridge pol’s bill would close car dealerships that clog sidewalks
Photo by Trey Pentecost

Car dealers in Bay Ridge and beyond who illegally park vehicles on the sidewalk should be shuttered by the city if they are caught repeatedly breaking the law, a local pol asserts.

Councilman Justin Brannan said he and his constituents are tired of cars crowding sidewalks around dealerships clustered on Fourth Avenue between 88th and 95th streets, so he is penning a law that he thinks will stop the businesses in their tracks.

“People complain and rightfully so: it’s not right, it’s hard to navigate for seniors, for people pushing baby strollers, and not only that, you’re not supposed to park on the sidewalk,” he said. “If I parked on the sidewalk I would get a ticket.”

The bill — which Brannan co-sponsored in Council on March 7 with Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer (D–Queens) Rafael Espinal (D–Bushwick) — gives the Commissioner of the Consumer Affairs Agency the power to suspend or revoke the license of any car dealership which receives two or more violations in a year for illegally parking or leaving cars on sidewalks or in crosswalks. Van Bramer had previously introduced the bill in 2016, but it never made it to the floor for a vote.

The city traffic rules already note that parking or stopping cars in crosswalks and sidewalks is illegal, and carries a $115 fine, which traffic enforcement agents issue, according to a Department of Transportation rep.

But Brannan said that the officers often don’t write tickets for illegally parked dealership cars that lack registrations or license plates, letting the businesses off the hook.

The Police Department did not respond to a request for comment, but the transportation agency rep said the city expected car dealers to pay up if they break the already-existing law.

“The rules apply to everyone,” said Alana Morales.

But Brannan said that the rules needed to be better enforced, because dealers were also taking away parking, which is already at a premium in the neighborhood.

Still, one local dealership owner said the bill wouldn’t affect his business because it has its own parking spots for inventory and its managers know not to park cars on the sidewalk, but he added that he was concerned the bill could potentially put hundreds of people out of business for small infractions.

“I’m not gonna lie to you and tell you that there haven’t been cars that have been on the sidewalk momentarily,” said Rob Sabbagh, who owns Bay Ridge Honda. “I’m sure this would be a deterrent, but we employ about 225 people, so I’d be curious to know his stance on shutting down businesses that employ that amount of people.”

Brannan said the bill wasn’t anti-business, but instead was meant to encourage business owners to be better.

“I understand everybody’s got to do business, but I’m a big believer in businesses being good neighbors,” he said. “This isn’t Manalapan, New Jersey.”

The bill is currently in the Council Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing, which Espinal chairs, and would need a public hearing and a floor vote before the mayor could sign it into law. A rep for Espinal said he hoped the bill would receive a public hearing by the end of the summer.

Other dealers on the strip visited by Courier reporters did not comment.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.