Free parking draws criticism from NYC drivers

Written by By Linda Wang, CNN

‘ “Beeyotch” signs on the billboards of waterfront lots towing European cars could infuriate New Yorkers.

Two signs located at the Fort Greene side of Greenpoint River Greenway in Brooklyn read: “Free parking — please pay.” One of the city’s Green P lots, which are open all day, is on the Brooklyn side of the highway, near a midtown parking garage that charges several dollars per hour.

The signs might not have been intentional: News of the tactic appeared to spring up from nowhere on social media and quickly spread. City Council member Justin Brannan, who represents that area, called it “a scam.”

“One should not be able to use the Green P lot and get off for free and then park on the road next door for additional rates,” he said. “This is an issue that needs to be addressed quickly.”

A spokesperson for Greenpoint River Greenway (which operates the lot with the New York City Department of Transportation) did not respond to a request for comment.

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Commercial space at the Green P lots was listed for sale in 2017 for $36 million. It offered about 5 million square feet of free public parking. In 2014, the department of transportation hired its own contractor, Safety Guru Inc., to oversee day-to-day operations. It is charged with hiring dozens of people and contractors to repair and maintain the lot, collect parking fines and safely and securely park many thousands of cars.

A parking attendant at the lot says that one way drivers can get into the gates is to get permission from the owner of the parking garage to pull in. The attendant doesn’t specify what that license or endorsement is.

Safety Guru, which did not respond to a request for comment, did not look into the sign issue, according to Doug Yorn, a director at CBRE , who negotiated the property sale and who identified the company. Yorn said that CBRE and the DOT were still looking into the matter.

“We have much better intentions for the lot than just a free parking space,” Yorn said.

The lot’s value is not determined by the number of cars in the lot, he added. (The multiple-member lot is intended to attract and not deter tourists.)

Yorn said that he thought the signs were suspicious. While he didn’t consider the signs illegal, he said, they could present a challenge for drivers who don’t have clear intentions for the area and need a place to park.

Asking to pay is not illegal, either. For vehicles operating through a business — and Green P had not licensed any entities to park at the lot — drivers must pay for parkering. Many have.

The lot has created a short supply of parking over the years, Kory Lape, chief of the parking enforcement division of the city’s Department of Transportation, told CNN. In the past year, parking was “almost definitely not” available at the lot.

“People are moving there specifically to get a free parking space,” Lape said.

John Carty, a resident of Canarsie in Brooklyn, walks in and out of the lot daily, frequently toting his bicycle. He said he saw the signs on Sunday and guessed they were installed that day by someone working for the DOT.

Carty, who has previously used a pushcart to buy souvenirs near the spot, said he’s never been bothered by any signs in the lot before.

“I really don’t think anyone’s parking this way intentionally,” he said. “It’s a physical inconvenience for some people.”

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