This story is a product of the City Limits Accountability Reporting Initiative For Youth (CLARIFY), supported by the Pinkerton Foundation. Learn more about the program here.
* * * *
On a recent weekday afternoon, police cars cruised along Roosevelt Avenue between 74th and 90th street, their sirens blaring in search of parked cars. Cops circulated the area demanding drivers move their cars and pointing with urgency at new “No Standing” signs. In almost 10 minutes, a section of the typically busy avenue was empty of parked vehicles.
The new parking rule went into effect on this stretch of Roosevelt Avenue in Queens on March 19, part of Mayor de Blasio’s five-point plan, announced last year, to address traffic issues at problem spots across the city.
Cars are not allowed to park or stand from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays between 74th and 90th streets on Roosevelt Avenue. Dubbed the “Clear Curbs Initiative,” the restrictions are part of an effort by the city to ease congestion on busy streets during peak travel times.
But the new policy has caused problems for local businesses, making it harder for their customers to find parking in the area, workers say.
“I don’t think it’s good for people,” claimed Chowd Hurl, a worker for a Dunkin’ Donuts on Roosevelt Avenue and 90th Street. “A lot of people can’t find parking. They come in, they buy coffee, and they get a ticket.”
Francisco Jimenez, another worker for a local cake shop on Roosevelt Avenue, said the new no parking rule “benefits the circulation, but it takes away our clients,” he told a reporter in Spanish.
Customers can’t purchase from stores in the area if they don’t have a place to park their cars, Jimenez said. Many people are still not used to the new policy, he added.
“They’re not mad, but they are very surprised,” Jimenez said of how clients react to receiving tickets. He believes that police should be more lenient with drivers, since many are still unaware of the new restrictions.
Community Board 4, which oversees the area, said it wasn’t notified of the changes until the city’s plan was underway.
“They didn’t tell us that this was happening. When they told us, it was pretty much already in the works,” CB4 Chairman Damian Vargas said during the board’s monthly meeting in April. “There was nothing we could do about it.”
The board sent a letter to de Blasio shortly after the restrictions went into effect, expressing the board’s “vehement opposition” to the initiative.
It will also join the Roosevelt Avenue Business Coalition to rally Wednesday morning against the parking changes, according to a post shared on CB4’s Facebook page.
“Since the start of the Clear Curbs Initiative, many of the businesses on Roosevelt Avenue have suffered a troubling drop in business,” the Facebook post reads. “Many of these small businesses were already struggling, and the continuation of this initiative may result in the closing of these businesses.”
The city’s Department of Transportation says it began meeting with local stakeholders about the parking changes as far back as November 2017, and gathered feedback from businesses and elected officials in the months after that.
For the first two weeks of March, DOT representatives also distributed fliers door-to-door about the new policy, the agency said.
“During this outreach DOT did receive some positive feedback from several businesses about the pilot initiative,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
The agency “aims to continue this outreach” until the six-month pilot period ends, the spokesperson said. DOT will then reassess the program, according to a post on its website.