April 1, 2016 By Michael Florio
A local group has an idea to solve Astoria’s parking problem: residential permits.
The Old Astoria Neighborhood Association intends to develop a plan to put residential parking permits into effect in the neighborhood. The group held preliminary discussions on the topic at its monthly meeting Tuesday.
The residential parking permits would allow only residents to park on their blocks overnight. This system would ensure residents a parking space near their homes and save them from having to drive around searching for one, OANA President Richard Khuzami said.
“It is a way for residents to make sure they have a place to park every night,” he said.
He also floated the idea of varying the time that each permit goes into effect block by block.
“If a block has a lot of commercial shops it could start at, say, 9 p.m.,” he suggested.
Khuzami said that he just wanted to start the discussion at Tuesday’s meeting.
During the meeting, residents complained about the difficulty of finding a parking space in the neighborhood, particularly at night. One resident said that people will often park on blocks that do not have alternate side parking and leave their cars for days or weeks, even months in some cases.
“People dump their cars and go on vacation for a month at a time,” one resident said. “When you call the cops they come and say they aren’t going to give them a ticket.”
Following the discussion, the OANA will now look to form a committee to further research this plan and whether it is feasible. Subsequently the organization will develop a more formal proposal, according to Khuzami.
The organization may look into creating a petition and collecting signatures from residents.
Community Board 1 Chair Joe Risi advised the OANA to create a proposal and present it to the Board’s transportation committee following their research. The plan could then go before the Board.
The OANA would then look into bringing this proposal to agencies and elected officials.
However, Council Member Costa Constantinides believes that this proposal would face an uphill battle in Albany, as was the fate of parking permit legislation introduced in 2011.
For this plan to ultimately pass the State legislature would need to approve it, which Constantinides envisions would be a very difficult task.
“We are hamstrung by a State Senate that is controlled by Senators that do not live in the NYC area and are not interested in doing things for NYC residents,” he said. “Our local State Senators are great, but unfortunately they are in the minority right now.”
Constantinides could not say whether he believes the idea would work in Astoria specifically before any legislation is passed.
State Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Aravella Simotas declined to comment on this story.
Residential parking permit systems have been set up in other cities, where residents pay an annual fee. San Francisco charges $111 annually, according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority; Khuzami said that based on his research, this is one of the more expensive fees.
Risi said that this fee could make the plan difficult to go forward with.
“It is more money out of the homeowners for the luxury of parking in front of their homes,” he said. “Other alternatives, such as more parking rules and enforcement, could be looked into.”
However, Khuzami believes that residents would pay this fee in order to obtain a permit.
“Time is money, and plenty is wasted looking to find parking,” Khuzami said.