ONLY ON SHEEPSHEAD BITES: The Department of Transportation cut down and removed dozens of Muni-Meter machines this week. But instead of suspending parking regulations on affected streets, the agency is asking residents to walk several blocks to the nearest meter and pay.
The move comes nearly five months after Superstorm Sandy wrecked the machines, which were installed throughout the district just last summer. Since the storm, drivers ticketed for parking on blocks with damaged machines flooded Community Board 15 with complaints.
“We received several calls from people on Sheepshead Road,” said Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo. “Walking from Emmons Avenue to Voorhies Avenue, every single meter is damaged.”
Scavo added that the problems weren’t just on Emmons or Sheepshead Bay Road, but on other popular commercial strips like Coney Island Avenue, where she witnessed a woman receive a ticket even though she left a note on the dashboard explaining that all nearby meters were broken.
Scavo said she has been pressing the DOT to fix the machines for months, but that the agency refused to take complaints without having the specific identification number for each machine.
The Board was not notified earlier this week when the agency came through and removed machines as far north as Avenue Z, including on side streets.
The Department of Transportation has confirmed to Sheepshead Bites that the machines were removed because of Sandy-related damage, and added that motorists are still expected to pay at the nearest Muni-Meter.
But finding that meter could prove tricky. During a walk from Emmons Avenue up Sheepshead Bay Road, the first meter Sheepshead Bites encountered was on Jerome Avenue and East 17th Street, tucked between utility poles and approximately a third of a mile from where we started.
“I love the idea of these Muni-Meters: to expedite parking, not make it a tragedy. It’s ridiculous,” said Scavo. “You’re talking Emmons Avenue, Sheepshead Bay Road, Voorhies Avenue. Where am I going to walk if I’ve got children? If I’m elderly? I’m going to walk around for blocks looking for an operable Muni-Meter?” said Scavo.
The situation could be better, she noted, if the DOT made clear where the nearest working meter could be found.
“If DOT put a sign on the broken meter saying nearest Muni-Meter, one block north, fine. But where are you going to find them? I don’t even know where to look,” she said.
Residents shouldn’t pay the tickets, and instead should fight them, Scavo urged.
The latest move is injury heaped on top of insult, said Scavo, who blasted the agency for addressing it now, several months after the machines were first damaged.
“You’re not talking as if the storm is yesterday. This storm if five months old. Don’t you think the DOT should have this problem rectified already?” Scavo fumed. “They sure know how to give the ticket; let them go get those things fixed first.”
UPDATE (2:30 p.m. on March 15): We just received a note from a business owner on Sheepshead Bay Road, who wrote:
Just about 1:00 today Agents went up Sheepshead Bay Rd and gave out a dozen tickets from end to end to every parked car. As you know, there are no meters on SB Rd or Voohries now, in either direction. I spoke to the two agents who told me they were under orders to issue, and I told them that I would be calling the Traffic Agency Inspector; then they left but returned with their supervisor, who I spoke with. She informed me that she was contacting her superiors and she agreed it was not right. We shall see if they lay off now or not, until working meters are installed.
Yes, we will see. Remember, you should fight these tickets!