Free parking lot signs changed before drivers had read them, NYPD says

The signs at waterfront Green P lots on City Road were changed in March, but the intention had been made in October

New York’s mayor’s office has said that drivers must have read signs at dozens of waterfront Green P lots, where they had been told they were entitled to pay free for parking before they were told they were not.

Signs at dozens of parking lots on Westchester Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant, claimed they were paid-for-spot meters, a position even the city’s own study had determined was incorrect.

On 15 September, the city’s Department of Transportation released a survey stating there were 76 locations in the city with signs saying paid parking was in effect – but under which it was not. The survey of sign changes was part of a citywide investigation.

On 10 April, the city sent out a complaint letter to any mayor’s office employee or police department employee who received a message referencing a metered lot while in the city, in which a phrase saying “known paid-for lot” was used. The city said all of those respondents were provided with an explanation of the new signs on 14 March, and that subsequent reminders had also been made and still were being sent.

However, a few signs at Green P lots along City Road had not been read by drivers since at least October.

One of the signs in question read, “Signage indicates a paid-for spot. There is no pay/display when the lot is occupied by motorists.” This led drivers to park in any one of seven pay/display spaces outside a series of businesses in the lot, including Subway, Home Depot, Vida Health, Wyandotte Beverage and Fusion Mini-Vegas.

The owner of the street-facing business in the lot, Wang Kei, said that more than 20 cars in the lot around 9am had refused to move when the area was closed to parking by a barricade to build up the street for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s (PA’s) Bus Terminal expansion project.

“They just left me waiting,” Kei said.

The other lot signs that caused concern were on a set of signs at Green P lots around Brookville and on Bedford Street, which read, “Free parking when vehicle is present in vehicle displaying service receipt.” A survey by Streetsblog, which was conducted within a month of the city’s survey, shows evidence that New Yorkers had taken advantage of these signs for free parking since at least October, when Brooklyn-based reporter Lindsey Boulanger set up a street-side ticketing booth to catch drivers.

“The Yorkville Committee had also been sending out notices telling drivers the lot is open without the actual text saying so – it just had the icon to say, ‘Hey I’m here, and I’ll take your money,'” Brooklyn-based online magazine XOJane reported.

Stampable apartment buildings, where multiple tenants share a parking space, were singled out as potential infractions by the new city warning letter, as was a large sign for “Free Park” and a sign in the parking lot with a letter F on it – the letter F is clearly visible in photos taken on the street.

The Press reported on Wednesday that the Department of Transportation was contacted on Monday for comment, but its spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The petition circulating among Brooklyn residents calls for a sweeping investigation of city or city-backed parking lots across the borough.

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