Under a-taxi! Arena cabs turn streets into parking lot, neighbors say

Under a-taxi! Arena cabs turn streets into parking lot, neighbors say
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Read their lips: no more taxis!

Neighbors of the newly opened Barclays Center say chauffeured Towncars, SUVs, and stretch limos take up nearly every inch of curb space around the arena during concerts and Nets games — turning their streets into a de facto parking lot until stadium VIPs call it a night.

“Residents are trying to do everything they can to park, and they’re upset that they’re getting tickets for parking illegally while limousines can break the same rules,” said Peter Krashes, the president of the Dean Street Block Association.

Krashes says the so-called “black cars” park in front of fire hydrants or idle in illegal spaces near the arena until clients are ready to leave.

Neighbors claim cops do little to enforce the rules of the road — and police in the community say hired cars are a real issue.

“Black cars have been a problem,” said 78th Precinct deputy inspector Michael Ameri, who noted his officers are already stretched thin focusing on safety issues around the arena. “We really have to work on staging black cars.”

A Nov. 14 visit by a reporter and a photographer for this newspaper confirmed that black cars of all types idle and park illegally on Bergen Street, Sixth Avenue, Fourth Avenue, and Pacific Street.

Hired drivers say cops typically look the other way when they park in front of hydrants or in other illegal spaces, but move their cars upon police request.

That said, the cabbies prefer to keep the taxies warm and at the ready.

“An honest cop will give us a pass,” said a driver whose limo was parked on Fourth Avenue and claimed that only “brownies” — a pejorative expression for traffic enforcement officers — give tickets for such offenses.

Representatives from the Barclays Center promised they were investigating neighbors’ concerns, and the city says it anticipated an increase in black cabs and has been working with developer Forest City Ratner since before the arena opened.

“We are continuing to review all enforcement of street regulations and working with agencies to coordinate transportation initiatives and responses based on on-going operations,” said Barclays Center spokesman Joe DePlasco.

To keep idling black cabs from turning neighborhood streets into a parking lot, the Department of Transportation says it will create an experimental “staging area” for hired cars on the south side of Atlantic Avenue between Sixth and Vanderbilt avenues.

“There will be little community impact as this block is currently under-utilized,” a spokesman from the Department of Transportation said.

No black cars were parked on that stretch of Atlantic Avenue when the legendary rockers The Who played last week — and neighbors aren’t happy to see the row of parking spaces go to cabbies during coveted evening hours.

“What are we doing, giving free parking to limos?” said Gib Veconi, who lives on Park Place near the arena and wrote a piece about the limos for the Atlantic Yards Watch blog. “[This is] more public space for the benefit of the Barclays Center.”

Drivers said it would take them as long as 10 minutes to get from Atlantic Avenue to the arena’s main entrance after an event — enough of a delay to potentially tick off their clients.

“When they build a stadium like this and put it in a residential area, we don’t know what to do,” said Armando Lombardo, a limo driver who brought four fans from Westchester to The Who concert. “Where do we go?”

Reach reporter Eli Rosenberg at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-2531. And follow him at twitter.com/emrosenberg.