Koslowitz fights parking meter hike

Council members James Vacca (l.) and Karen Koslowitz (c.) stand on Austin Street and denounce parking meter increases with Robert Sinclair of New York AAA. Photo courtesy Office of Karen Koslowitz
By Joe Anuta

A Forest Hills lawmaker blasted the city Sunday for planning to increase parking meter rates in the outer boroughs for the second time in a year.

“Here we go again! It was just a few months back that we had the same fight with the administration,” City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) said in a statement. “Breaking the backs of the middle class and small businesses is the wrong way to fix our fiscal woes in the city.”

The proposal would increase the hourly rate from 75 cents to $1, which would bring the rate to double what it was two years ago. The proposal would also increase rates in Manhattan meters above 96th Street.

“Creating greater access to our business districts, such as Austin Street in Forest Hills, is crucial to the New York City economy,” Koslowitz said. “We have a responsibility to consumers and working people to make things easier for them during these tough times.”

Yet the city gets too much of its transportation budget from middle class drivers around the five boroughs, according to Koslowitz. The department expects to raise $700 million from meters and parking tickets, even while the city contributes $250 million.

Koslowitz was joined by Council members Diana Reyna (D-Brooklyn) and James Vacca (D-Bronx) on Austin Street, a commercial strip they said would be affected by the meter hikes.

The president of the Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce said the hike would harm businesses by providing another reason not to come to the strip, which has a mix of small mom-and-pop stores and large retail giants.

“The consumer has to absorb all the costs,” Leslie Brown said. “It’s not fair, especially in these times when the smaller stores are struggling to stay afloat. We need as many reasons as possible to keep people coming here.”

The 25-cent increase might not seem like a lot, Brown said, but it adds up.

“I’m just hoping people can keep absorbing all these increases,” she said.

But the city Department of Transportation said the increases were designed to help small business.

The increases in meter rates will encourage more turnover in municipal parking spots along business corridors, the department said.

In addition, the rates for the meters are still far below private lots or parking garages, the department said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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