A Queens lawmaker declares war on auto body repair shops and rental car companies that he says are gobbling up parking spots on neighborhood streets.
Councilman Robert Holden has proposed legislation that would target body shops, rental car businesses and gas stations that use on-street parking to drop off, pick up, inspect, store, repair, service or display a vehicle for sale, lease or rental.
The fine for such violations would vary between $250 and $400 per day for each violation.
Holden said the hoarding of public parking spaces by these companies has been a problem on 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 on the street – not just a few,” Holden said Thursday.
The councilman said he had a verbal argument with officials at the Hertz rental car facility on Metropolitan Avenue in the past. He said they were “arrogant” and dismissive and accused him of being anti-business when he complained they were parking pigs.
“I said, ‘I’m not going to let you take parking spots from my constituents anymore and turn my community into your parking lot,'” Holden said.
The councilman also claimed that Enterprise on Metropolitan Avenue was a violator.
He said he expects his Council colleagues to sign the bill “because parking abuse is a problem across the city, especially in outlying boroughs.”
“Residents can’t find parking,” he added.
Holden said he filed complaints with the city’s Department of Transportation, whose commissioner, Ydanis Rodriguez, is a former council colleague.
But body shop owners said the problem was a lack of space in the city and warned against evicting small businesses.
George, who runs No Limit Auto Body in Maspeth, said he rents space at three different yards for the vehicles he services but still has to park cars on the street.
“It’s an additional expense that I’m already absorbing. These are 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 had a “gentleman’s agreement” not to park in front of the three houses near his store.
While saying serial parking pigs should be punished, George warned that running a small business in the city is already onerous and more punitive measures could explode.
“I’m going to close up shop. Twelve people will lose their jobs and I will move to New Jersey,” the No-Limit Auto store owner said.
Hertz and Enterprise press offices had no immediate comment.
The city’s Department of Transportation said it was reviewing the legislation.