Finding free parking in the borough is like striking gold and when empty cabs occupy those spaces it is bound to irk community members.
Roe Daraio, president of Citizens of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together, alleges that a livery cab company, Sensational Services Inc., does just that on 48th Avenue and 70th Street in Woodside.
“It’s a big problem in the community,” she said. “Those are 200 parking spaces being used up.”
She said it’s not only a burden for residents who live near the block, but also businesses that need employee parking.
For months, Daraio has fought this problem. Zoning laws forbid dealerships from using the city streets as their lot, she said.
“Zoning specifically states that all businesses must operate 100 percent in their premises … not on the city street,” she said.
The civic leader asked the 108th Precinct to look into the issue. During the past eight months 12 summonses were issued, which included inadequate insurance coverage, lack of commission-required decal and invalid driver’s licenses, she said.
Daraio brought the issue to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, which grants permits for livery cabs. She was told that it wasn’t in the commission’s control to do anything about it.
“TLC said it’s not their problem, DOT is not looking at it as their problem. So whose problem is it?” she asked.”
However, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) has stepped in.
“It’s plain to us that they can’t find parking on their block or even close to where they live because we have hundreds of livery cabs taking up all the spaces,” he said. “You got a private business using the street as their own private parking lot and not paying for that privilege. That’s unfair to local residents who live in the neighborhood.”
Van Bramer is working on a bill that would give the TLC the authority to write summonses to TLC regulated dealerships, which use city streets to conduct business.
The owner of Sensational Services Inc., Tom, who asked that his last name be withheld, said he hasn’t received any complaints.
He said his company takes up at most 10 or 12 spots and that the rest belong to other dealerships.
“There are five or six other shops that have vehicles in those spaces,” he said. “I feel we’re being unjustly painted as the bad guys.”
“[I am] willing to work with the community to find a solution,” he said.