NYC councilman proposes fine on auto shops that hog street spots

A Queens legislator is declaring war on auto body repair shops and rental car companies he claims are gobbling up neighborhood street parking spaces.

Councilman Robert Holden has proposed a law that would target auto body shops, car rental businesses and gas stations who use street parking for the purpose of dropping-off, picking-up, inspecting, storing, repairing, servicing or displaying a vehicle for sale, lease or rent.

The fine for such violations would range between $250 and $400 per day for each violation.

Holden said the hoarding of public parking spaces by these companies has been a problem in major thoroughfares and residential streets in his district, including in and around Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village and Maspeth. 

“I’m talking about dozens of cars parked in the street — not just a few,” Holden said Thursday.

Holden claimed that street parking is limited due to businesses using street parking.
Gregory P. Mango

The councilman said he once got into a verbal spat with managers at the Hertz rental car facility on Metropolitan Avenue. He said they were “arrogant” and dismissive and accused him of being anti-business when he complained they were parking hogs.

“I said, `I’m no longer going to allow you to take parking spaces from my constituents and turn my community into your parking lot,’” Holden said.

The councilman also claimed Enterprise on Metropolitan Avenue was an offender.

He said he expects his colleagues on the Council will want to sign onto the bill “because  parking abuse is a problem citywide, particularly in the outer boroughs.”

“Residents can’t find parking,” he added.

Holden said he has lodged complaints with the city Department of Transportation, whose commissioner, Ydanis Rodriguez, is a former council colleague.

Robert Holden
Holden hopes other council members will support his proposal because it is an issue that impacts all the boroughs.
BRIGITTE STELZER

But auto body shop owners said the problem is the lack of space in the city and warned about driving small businesses out.

George, who runs the No Limit Auto Body in Maspeth, said he rents space from three different yards for vehicles he services, but still needs to park some cars on the street.

“It’s an extra expense I already absorb. They’re not big yards,” said George, who declined to give his last name.

“Do I park cars on the street? Absolutely I do,” he said.

But George said he has a “gentleman’s agreement” not to park in front of the three homes near his shop.

Enterprise car rentals
Holden named an Enterprise as one of the main culprits of using street parking.
Gregory P. Mango

While saying serial parking hogs should be punished, George warned that it’s already onerous to run a small business in the city and more punitive measures could boomerang.

“I’ll close shop. Twelve people will lose their jobs and I’ll  move to New Jersey,” the No-Limit Auto shop owner said.

The press offices of Hertz and Enterprise had no immediate comment.

The city Department of Transportation said it is reviewing the legislation.