On March 1, Alfred Osbourne’s quarterly permit to park in the municipal lot at the Rosedale Long Island Rail Road station went from $90 to $110.
“They initially raised it to $200, but we complained and they cut it back to $110,” he said.
The Department of Transportation was just getting warmed up.
On March 5 the DOT asked the City Council for massive rate hikes in all municipal parking lots beginning on July 1, some of which would be triple-digit increases.
“They want to raise my permit 233 percent,” Osbourne said. The new fee would be nearly $400. Enter Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Springfield Gardens), who has been in office a week but already has begun fighting City Hall.
“It’s outrageous,” Richards said on Friday outside the lot, located just north of the intersection of Francis Lewis Boulevard and the Sunrise Highway.
“Rosedale may not have been one of the places that got media attention after Hurricane Sandy, but it was heavily damaged,” he said. “People are still suffering, still trying to fix their homes; they rely on this lot, and now the DOT wants to increase their cost by 233 percent.”
At Monday’s meeting of Community Board 13 he called the proposal “beyond ridiculous.”
Osbourne’s home was damaged in the storm. And he is not alone in feeling the pinch of rate hikes, according to Claretta Cox and Sam Elliott of the 148th Drive and Community Block Association.
“We’ve been getting a lot of complaints,” Cox said at the press conference.
A DOT official standing in at the March 5 Council meeting for Commissioner Janette Sadik-Kahn said the agency needs the revenue. Published reports quoted DOT officials as saying the costs still would leave city lots less expensive than their private competition.
A state ment issued by the DOT on Monday said there are 12 permit holders for the Rosedale lot; that the fee has not been increaed in years; and that the hike would increase the cost from from $1.125 per day to $1.40.
Richards and state Sen. James Sanders Jr. (D-Jamaica) said they want to work with the DOT to find alternate sources of revenue for itself and the city as a whole.
“We have a lot of corporate welfare in this city,” Richards said. “Madison Square Garden is subsidized. It has a $15 million tax exemption. Some of the operations out at Kennedy Airport are subsidized. Large developers are subsidized.”
Madison Square Garden’s city property tax exemption was codified in state law in 1982 at a time when the owners were threatening to move the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, who call the arena home.
Sanders said he would gladly sponsor a bill to remove the exemption if asked by the City Council. But MSG has been successfully fending off attempts to revoke the tax break since at least 2007.
Sanders also said money could be found by “cutting the fat at the MTA,” but the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is a state entity whose funding as a matter of law cannot be intermingled with that of the New York City DOT.
Sanders then said if the MTA made cuts and decided to give the money to the DOT he would welcome it, but did not say why a state authority might show such generosity toward a city agency.