There are at least 176 hard-pressed commuters driving around hopeless and helpless every weekday morning look for a legal parking spot within a reasonable distance of the LIRR station in Port Washington.
I was one of the them, until I learned that the only solution was to pay someone for the use of their private property to park my car while I went to work. I found this to be less costly than paying the tickets, missing the bus, or taking a taxi any time I couldn't get to town before 7:20 a.m.
I figures this out the hard way, after hundreds of dollars in fines, taxi fares, missed meetings, and being denied the right to register or sell my car.
First, I took the bus to the station. The bus only runs once an hour as of 5 o'clock, so there's a good chance you'll have to take a taxi home. I made a lot of nice friends on the N23 bus. Many of them had similar stories. Most could not afford to buy a parking spot, though. One lady told me how her tires were slashed when she first moved here because she thought she found a space after being shut out of the lots.
I thought this was very unfair, and decided to write to my elected officials to see what could be done. I wrote to Wayne Wink, when he was still working for us in PW, Craig Johnson, Tom Suozzi, May Newburger. I got several nice letters back and both Mr. Suozzi and Mr. Johnson contacted a Ms. Reilly at the Traffic Violations Bureau, who apparently doesn't answer to any of these people or these inquiries.
I went to court because the delinquency charges that accrued while I was trying to make headway the wrong way reached a staggering $880 on six tickets. I was branded a scofflaw, and now no one can do anything. The fellow at the "court' could only offer me a 20 percent discount and stop the accrual of fines. I asked for a trial, but nothing has happened in the seven months since I went there, and I can't register my car or sell it. Soon my current car will be due for renewal, and so will my license. Is my only way out to play this horrendous fee?
Isn't that extortion?
I know I don't have a right to a parking space, but I believe I have a right to recourse. I just don't know where it can be found.
* It is unfair that people who pay for and display the permits and vouchers are ticketed in the same manner as someone who neglected to pay the meter.
* It is unfair that I and others in similar situations have no access to a fair and timely mediation of these grievances.
* It is unfair that our access to transportation, and consequently to work, is infringed upon in this way.
* It is unfair that the people who make these rules, issue the tickets, and hold their so-called courts are not subject to the same problems or penalties that the private citizen is subject to.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, I got the statistics related to parking in PW. Here are the facts:
* 3500 parking permits issued in a year
* 906 commuter spots available in 5 lots in town
* average monthly commuter parking tickets sold - 236
* average 10 pack vouchers sold - 1246
* annual parking vouchers sold - 223
That's at least 1082 people looking for parking in 906 spots!
There are an average of 327 parking tickets issued in those five lots every month. You can bet that 176 of them are commuters, like me. If you are one of them, please call on Fred Pollack, Jon Kaiman and Gerald Olsen, the PW Parking District Commissioner, to do the right thing by us. Here are some suggestions.
1. Don't ticket a car that displays the permit and voucher. Give it a warning - 3 strikes in a month and you've ticketed.
2. Create a different class of violation, not subject to the same harsh penalties as a true scofflaw.
3. Offer some recourse that can be dealt with in Port Washington, not the town level.
4. Make more spots available.