Photo by Phil Corso
By Phil Corso

With Halloween lurking around the corner, Bayside’s Party City owner Lucy Tinari said some illegal parking was scaring away customers during one of her busiest seasons.

Her business, at 213-02 Northern Blvd., sits near the intersection of Northern and Bell boulevards, where two food carts conduct business daily. Aside from her initial concerns over sanitary conditions and unfair business competition, Tinari said drivers passing by the carts have been stopping in her parking lot to take up spots or illegally park in no-parking zones while they purchase food from the carts.

“This is the gateway to our community,” Tinari said. “There are never enough parking spots for our customers. It gets so frustrating.”

Earlier this month, Tinari took her concerns to Community Board 11, asking board members to help her in cleaning up the crowded car craze in the singular parking lot, which Party City shares with a CVS Pharmacy at the intersection. She said the unwanted foot traffic related to the food carts in the area has led to unsanitary conditions, including litter, foul odors and pigeons pecking away at leftover scraps, causing problems for both her and management at the CVS.

“This has been a major problem throughout the entire city,” CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said after Tinari brought her concerns to the board’s October meeting in Bayside. “No law stops them. We need more regulation because they unfairly compete with the other merchants.”

John Amanatidis has been grilling lunch and dinner for passers-by from his foot cart near the intersection of Northern and Bell boulevards for close to 15 years and said he has heard, understood and agreed with Tinari’s concerns. In an effort to combat cars from illegally parking near his cart, Amanatidis created a sign with bold print and fixed it to the front of his food truck, warning customers that anyone caught illegally parking will be towed.

“She’s right,” Amanatidis said. “But we can only do so much.”

Tinari said she reached out to the 111th Precinct in Bayside, but was told it was the landlord’s duty to tow the vehicles on the private property. The problem with providing a tow truck, she said, is the short amount of time drivers would stay while illegally parking their cars to purchase food from the trucks.

“People only obey when they physically see the truck,” Tinari said. “And we can’t tow if somebody is in the car, even if they stay long enough.”

CB 11 officials said they would continue to seek governmental assistance in regulating the food carts and assessing their impact on the community. Meanwhile, Tinari said she would do her best to keep her parking lot open to shoppers.

“[Food cart owners] say they have their rights. Where are our rights?” Tinari said. “If it keeps going like this, customers won’t want to shop here anymore.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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