Nov. 15, 2017, By Christian Murray
The Department of Transportation has put forward a plan that would bring significant changes to drivers who park on Queens Boulevard under the 7-train.
The plan, which involves 494 parking spaces that run from 48th Street to 32nd Place, would convert dozens of 14-hour metered spots to 4-hours spaces. The proposal also calls for the muni meters to start charging at 5 a.m. and the elimination of 14 spaces.
The change initially came at the request of the Community Board 2 which asked the DOT about two years ago to convert the 14-hour (long term) metered spots to 4-hour (short term) spaces, arguing that non-residents were using the long-term spaces as a means to commute to Manhattan. The board said it wants to stop commuters using Sunnyside as a stop-off point.
There are currently 185 long-term spots and 309 short term under the train.
The parking spaces between 39th Place through to 48th Street are all short term, with the exception of some spots between 41st and 42nd streets on the north side. Between 39th and 33rd streets the metered spots are all long term. The block between 33rd Street and 32nd Place is comprised of short-term spots.
David Stein, Deputy Director of Parking Management and Planning, put forward the DOT’s proposal before Community Board 2’s Transportation committee last week that would result in 348 short-term spots, 132 long-term spaces and the elimination of 14 spots.
In order to do that, the DOT proposes converting the long-term spaces between 41st and 42nd streets to 4-hour spots as well as those between 37th and 38th streets.
The DOT also plans to remove 14 spaces between 32nd Place and 33rd Street to make way for a pedestrian area for people who get off the subway.
Stein said the DOT also plans on changing the times the meters go into effect and the pricing. Currently, the meters have to be fed starting at 8 a.m. for all 494 parking spots, with the cost being 25 cents per 15 minutes. There is a maximum amount charged of $8 on the 14-hour spots.
The DOT plans to start the meter at 5 a.m. on all spots and getting rid of the maximum charge of $8 on long-term spots. Under the plan, the new charge for people who park for 17 hours (5 a.m.- 10 p.m.) would be $17.
Some Community Board 2 committee members took exception to some components of the plan.
They argued that there are still too many long-term spots under the proposal and more should be converted to 4-hour.
“We are not happy,” said committee member Sheila Lewandowski. “The DOT is basically encouraging commuter parking over people in the neighborhood.”
She said that the DOT is essentially sanctioning the practice of people commuting by keeping so many 14-hour spots.
Stein argued that many of the people who use the long-term spots work in the area and are teachers at Aviation High School, students at LaGuardia Community College, hotel employees or work at other nearby destinations. He said the DOT conducted a study and found that only a small number of commuters used the long-term spaces.
The board asked for a copy of the study.
Lewandowski claimed that workers in the area would be able to walk over and feed the meter—or use an app–if needed and so the short-term spaces wouldn’t effect these people. She said commuters would be unable to do so and would no longer use spots that Sunnysiders need.
Meanwhile, Denise Keehan-Smith, CB2 chairwoman, was concerned about the proposal to start the meter at 5 a.m. and what it might mean for residents who park under the 7-train overnight.
“My concern is that people in the neighborhood– if they cannot find parking on their block at night–could potentially park under there because they are desperate,” she said, adding that it would be tough for them if the meter kicked in at 5 a.m. the following day.
Stein said that people would be able to pre-pay the night before.
Keehan-Smith argued that residents should not have to pay to park in their own neighborhood overnight. She asked for it to remain at 8 a.m.
The DOT is reviewing the board’s arguments and noted that the plan is a “proposal” and that it will be discussed further.
“We are discussing the feedback by the board’s Transportation Committee, and we will follow up with them on the additional information requested.”