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Ticket Blitz Drives Shoppers Mad – QNS.com

Ticket Blitz Drives Shoppers Mad

Merchants say an increase in ticketing and towing along two active commercial strips in Queens is hurting business during the years peak shopping weeks.
Shopowners on Austin and Steinway Streets say overzealous traffic officers are driving away customers and delivery trucks, making it harder to compete with the malls and Manhattan.
"Its been abusive," said Sam Pirozzolo, chairman of the Steinway Street Business Improvement District. "They must have decided…to balance their budget on the backs of New Yorkers."
At a recent meeting with Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives, Steinway Street merchants complained that excessive ticketing was especially unfair because of delays in construction on the Steinway Street Bridge and that ticketing was on the rise since mid-summer, around the time the bridge collapsed in July.
In addition to officers that wait for meters to run out, Steinway Street merchants also said officers were handing out more serious "obstruction of traffic" summonses instead of double-parking tickets to delivery trucks.
"Its out of hand," said Pirozzolo. On Austin Street, Heskel Elias, owner of a local building company, shared a similar story.
"This is a trap," said Elias, adding that prowling officers were scaring away customers already frustrated with the limited parking in the area. "Many vow never to come back."
Veronica Lopez, a manager at a year-old Sephora store, says she watches cars ticketed and towed daily from a no-parking zone outside the stores front doors. Elias and Lopez said the signage was confusing in the area with a new muni-meter system. One of the communal meters sits in the middle of the unpainted curb in front of Sephora, causing car owners to think it is a legal parking area, they said.
Queens DOT Commissioner Connie Moran said through a spokesperson that she spoke to the NYPD after hearing from Steinway merchants, but police told her, "they would enforce the law." Borough President Helen Marshall spoke to the DOT on behalf of Austin Street shops requesting that signs be lowered and enlarged, and expected a positive response soon.
Separately, an NYPD spokesman denied that the number of summonses had increased, but said that during the holiday season it was common for the department to deploy more officers to protect pedestrians in high-traffic areas.
sarah@queenscourier.com

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