But you know you wont.
Where will you park? Maybe youll just rent a movie instead.
With two million people living in this borough and a tremendous
reliance on cars over public transportation, searching for a place to park in Queens has
become a competition sport for some, and a turn-off to local shopping for others. The
shops may have just what you want at the right price, the restaurant may be the best in
the city, or the neighborhood might be a delight to live in, but if youre one of the
thousands in Queens with a car, youll make your shopping, dining and renting or
buying decisions from behind the wheel.
"This is a problem we deal with regularly at
meetings," said Dan Andrews, spokesman for Borough President Claire Shulman.
"The borough president has been working on it for a number of years."
Since he moved to northwest Queens from Greece in 1972, poor parking
has been an omnipresent fact in George Alexious life.
According to Alexiou, an active member
of Community Board 1, because of the areas population and the number of cars owned
per family, street parking in his neighborhood and nearby communities is near impossible.
"Its always a problem," said Alexiou, who lives on 21st
Avenue and 36th Street in Ditmars with his wife and daughter. Alexiou recalls when he
lived in Astoria years ago and sometimes had to park four or five blocks away from his
home at the end of a day.
"I can never find parking when I go to [Georges] house,"
Community Board 1 District Manager George Delis said.
Delis added that the regions proximity to Manhattan is a key factor in
the problem, as those commuting into the city tend to park their cars on the streets and
municipal lots and take public transportation across the river.
"Parking is at a premium now, its unbelievable," said
Delis. "At 31st Street between Ditmars and 31st Avenue we have triple parked
Luckily for Alexiou, he has access to a garage where he and his wife can
park their respective cars, yet he pays $110 a month for his daughters parking space
at another local garage. "I really dont know what else we can do," he
Great Muni-Meter Debate
Part of the Department of Transportations (DOT)
response to Queens cry for more room has been a move to replace individual parking
meters with new municipal or "muni-meters," increasing the overall number of
spots on a block.
Slowly phased in all five boroughs, these single machines are placed at
the end of streets and operate much like a conventional parking meters. Those wishing to
park feed change into the machine and are issued a decal indicating their allotted time.
Motorists then attach that decal onto a visible area of their
automobile, so authorities can monitor the amount of time a car has spent in a particular
spot. Though still in its experimental stage, muni-meters are increasingly being installed
to create a higher turnover in parking and eliminate the clutter created by individual
But according to Norman Tabachnick, store manager of Chateau Jewelers on
Austin St., muni-meters have "prohibited people from shopping." Tabachnick said
the hour and a half parking limit the new meters impose on drivers has simply compounded
an already existent problem.
"If our patrons park there, even if they put more money in, they
get ticketed," said Tabachnick, explaining that with the old meters drivers could put
extra change in after their time has expired. "The meters should all have two hour
time frames and if someone wants to pay $2 for four hours they should be allowed to do
While his business hasnt experienced a sharp decline since the
implementation of the muni-meters, Tabachnick said customers have been quite vocal about
annoyances the new machines have created.
Tabachnick added that complaints he and other local merchants have
issued with the DOT have largely fallen on deaf ears. Yet DOT spokesman Mark Patterson
claims these criticisms of muni-meters are "baseless" and have been blown out of
"They should bottle up their complaints because those muni-meters
are not moving," he said.
According to Patterson, by replacing individual meters with a single
machine per block, extra parking spaces have opened up and the aesthetics of the
neighborhood have improved.
Patterson also made it clear its against the law to feed extra
change in any parking meter in New York City after the allotted time has expired.
"If you put money in for 30 minutes, after that time is up you must
move your car," said Patterson, adding that because muni-meters alert authorities to
exactly how long a car has been parked and prevent drivers from putting extra money in the
machines, a higher turnover in parking is created.
Still, other Queens residents have logged complaints that muni-meters
pose problems for the elderly and disabled, who can have trouble getting the machines to
work and simply traveling to the machine and then back to their car.
Patterson said, however, that the new muni-meters are not going to fully
replace the individual meters in the city. The DOT asks that if residents desire the
removal or installation of parking meters they should call 894-8337.
Though the 26 city-owned municipal lots located
throughout Queens have partially relieved the parking burden in certain areas, New York
Citys recent proposal to auction off at least some of its facilities has left
Casting doubt over the future of community parking, three of the lots
potentially up for sale are in Jamaica, an area where inadequate parking has long been a
According to Community Board 12 District Manager Yvonne Reddick, the
city has proposed to sell two municipal lots located on the east and west sides of 168th
Street between 90th and 91st Avenue, and one on Archer Avenue and 165th Street.
"We have a parking crisis in downtown Jamaica," said Reddick,
who went on to note that the possibility of losing those lots could have potentially
disastrous affects on the neighborhood. "Were hoping it will remain, whoever it
goes to, as a parking facility.
"There is a local development that is looking at it and they would
like to take the lot and keep it as parking," she said. "We dont know
whether theyre going to get it or not." However Reddick added there is no
guarantee the company who purchases the lot would keep it as a parking facility, nor would
they be legally bound to do so.
Not long ago, Community Board 11 faced a similar problem when the city
planned to sell the sole municipal lot in Bayside, located on 41st Avenue one block east
of Bell Boulevard.
According to Community Board 11 Chairman Bernard Haber, because sale of
the lot would have "killed the economy on Bell Boulevard," local residents
petitioned the Department of Transportation, mayors and borough presidents
offices rescind the proposal.
While Reddick said her community is not necessarily against the
auctioning of their lots, they are, however, very concerned that they remain parking
facilities if sold.
Thousands of cars are towed, ticketed or immobilized in
Queens each year because of parking violations. Heres what you can do in case your
car gets impounded or booted:
If your car is towed, you should first contact the local police
The police will then direct you to the marshals office or
the holding lot where your car is being stored. There you will have to pay a towing fee
plus a fine for your parking violation before you can redeem your vehicle.
If a boot has been placed on your car, and the official is still
present, you can pay to have it removed at the scene. If not, contact the local police
Dubbed the "Parking Pal," Lou Camporeale,
creator of the Parking Pal Motorist Education Company, has been known to patrol the
boroughs busier streets feeding quarters into meters near expiration, saving drivers
from potential tickets.
To get tips on parking and motorist education visit Camporeales
web site at www.parkingpal.com or send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Parking Pal,
P.O. Box 350-003, Brooklyn, NY 11235.