Bay Ridge residents sick of sidewalks doubling as showrooms

Brannan pens plea to local dealerships, urges them to take it inside

Bay Ridge residents are sick and tired of dealerships using sidewalks as showrooms.

The issue – which sees auto purveyors along some of the neighborhood’s busiest thoroughfares parking their goods in public walkways – is as pertinent today as it was last spring when Councilmember Justin Brannan vowed to introduce legislation to remedy it.

The bill, co-sponsored by Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer and Rafael Espinal, is still in the works, but if signed into law, would revoke the licenses of dealerships ticketed for taking up areas set aside for pedestrians more than three times. But, Brannan hopes his district’s dealerships will get ahead and be neighborly before it’s illegal not to.

“Public sidewalks are not for cars, and the sidewalk is not a showroom,” said Brannan, who at the end of last month penned a strongly worded letter to a cluster of car dealerships along Third, Fourth and Fifth avenues as well as 86th Street asking them to get their act together.“Car dealerships should not keep more cars in stock than they have room for,” he contended. “This isn’t Edison, New Jersey where they have car dealerships the size of 10 football fields. Our local dealerships need to be better neighbors and have respect for the communities in which they operate. It’s pretty simple.”

In his letter, Brannan reminds those on the receiving end (in bold-face type) that it is already against the law to park a vehicle without a license plate and a registration sticker on a New York City street. It is also against the law to park any vehicle on a city sidewalk.

“I am really getting tired of begging you not to do something that is already illegal,” Brannan concludes.

The issue extends beyond the sidewalk, according to Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, who told this paper that a number of the complaints the board has received about dealerships complain that they hog municipal parking spots, presumably free of charge.

“The board receives regular complaints about particular car dealerships,” Beckmann said. “We certainly agree with the councilman that some of these businesses really need to work on this.”

Some dealerships have been more cooperative than others, the district manager said, noting also that, while she “understands the complexities of running a dealership, there has to be a balance for safety, as well as for fairness.” When dealerships devour parking, Beckmann stressed, nearby businesses that rely on those spots lose out, too.

“It just comes down to being a good neighbor,” she said.

Bay Ridge resident Donna Russo called the parking problem a “nuisance.”

“I see families trying to walk by with a child in hand and pushing a stroller and there is no room to walk,” Russo said, echoing Brannan and Beckmann that streets — especially those on Fourth Avenue — “have become showrooms, not a safe place to walk.”

Russo noted that the very same morning she spoke to the Brooklyn Reporter, she and her daughter had trouble boarding a local bus because of a dealership.

“Just now, my daughter and I couldn’t safely get onto the S53 bus because the new dealer had cars on the sidewalk and in the bus stop,” she said. “Something needs to be done.”

“Dealerships parking cars on the sidewalk is obnoxious, egregious, dangerous and illegal,” Brannan said. “People are tired of it and so am I.”

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