As if the financial burden of Sandy recovery to Zone A residents wasn’t enough, the Department of Transportation sought to pile on the bills for hard-hit Brighton Beach residents by increasing quarterly rates in municipal parking lots by a whopping $220.
Permit-holding residents, business owners and commuters were alarmed to receive a letter earlier this month from the Department of Transportation, notifying them that quarterly rates would jump from $330 to $550 for the Brighton Beach Municipal Parking Lot at Brightwater Court and Brighton 3rd Street beginning January 1. Payments were requested by December 14 – even though many of the permit holders are Hurricane Sandy victims still grappling with thousands of dollars in damages to their homes, possessions and businesses.
But the letter also claimed the rates were approved by the City Council, which never happened, according to Councilman Michael Nelson.
Nelson – who represents Brighton Beach – received a copy of the letter from outraged constituents. His staff got in touch with DOT, who responded that “no such action has been taken by the Council. In fact, the DOT does not need Council approval to enact rate increases, but needs only to send out 30-day notices to permit holders,” according to a release sent by Nelson.
Still, DOT has nixed the increase mentioned in the letter sent earlier this month, and are notifying permit-holders that the letter was sent by mistake, and rates will remain the same for the time being.
The rates were slated to increase the same amount in 2011, but community outrage similarly spurred the DOT to rescind the plan.
Nelson is also requesting that the DOT confer with the City Council before instituting and rate increases and municipal lots.
“Many people who use these municipal parking lots and garages are on a fixed income, and already pay a fair share to park their cars,” said Councilman Nelson. “It is never an appropriate time to discuss rate increases, especially when many who were hit hard by the hurricane expect the City to work for, not against, them in the recovery.”