Login Get News Updates
For local news delivered via email enter address here:
Profile Subscriptions Mobile Tablet
Local News November 14, 2013  RSS feed

News From The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association

It’s Time To Confront The Parking Shortage
by Alexander Blenkinsopp

Woodhaven is filling up with cars, and for those who lack driveways, it’s making the neighborhood a less livable place.

As I’ve written here before, parking is a problem in Woodhaven. Our neighborhood’s streets are far more packed with autos than they were in decades past. The shortage today is far worse than when many Woodhaven residents moved to the neighborhood. We at the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) have heard it from residents, and we’ve experienced it ourselves.

Unfortunately, this problem is likely to worsen.

In previous columns, I described two causes of the parking shortage. First, some residents have cut the curbs outside their homes and paved over their front yards to convert them into illegal driveways, thereby preventing others from parking in legal street spots that block these illegal parking pads.

Second, too many of our limited parking spots are being taken by vehicles with out-of-state license plates. Some Woodhaven residents are registering their cars outside New York to dodge parking fines and to claim lower insurance premiums. It’s a dishonest move that should be illegal, yet city and state agencies have refused to crack down on it and have ignored WRBA efforts to stem the practice.

There are other causes of the parking shortage, too. Commercial vehicles, like school buses, often take up many spots on residential streets, squeezing those who actually live on those blocks. Local businesses—one used car merchant especially comes to mind—stow vehicles outside nearby homes.

More households have multiple vehicles, and more houses are being rented out to multiple tenants, each of whom drives. And, of course, illegal conversions have also packed more people into the same number of residences. This results in more people in Woodhaven and more cars—but the same overall number of parking spots available.

And often, people drive to Woodhaven from other neighborhoods, park their vehicles here, and then take public transportation elsewhere. We’re fortunate to have good access to buses and subways, but it’s difficult when people from outside the neighborhood treat Woodhaven as their parking lot.

These are all stubborn causes of a growing problem.

One solution that has been floated is residential permit parking. Two years ago, the City Council passed a request to Albany to allow individual neighborhoods in the city to create a permit program, which would mean you could only park on the neighborhood’s streets if you have a permit. But WRBA members were unenthusiastic about such a program; residents would be able to secure a spot outside their homes only if they paid for a permit. It might save them time searching for a place to park, but it would cost them money. And it was unclear whether such permits could become valuable commodities, snapped up by some residents, then bought and sold at a premium.

Our elected officials should consider three other ideas to attack the problem.

First, make city agencies enforce laws that are already on the books. That would address most of the root causes mentioned above. If agencies don’t enforce the law, we’ll continue to have this problem.

Second, take a cue from other cities and increase parking capacity by building municipal garages. New York should look carefully at what has worked in other cities (and in other parts of New York City) and see whether they could be implemented in our part of Queens.

Third, don’t approve major construction or development projects unless they include a parking plan. Anything that can attract people from elsewhere must also account for what to do with those people’s vehicles.

A solution to the parking problem in Woodhaven is already overdue. The WRBA wants our city agencies and elected officials to take action. We’re waiting.

* * *

Editor’s note: Blenkinsopp is member of Community Board 9 and director of communications for the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association. For additional information on the WRBA, visit www.woodhavennyc.org.