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Ridgites demand more time to park

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Merchants on Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge are demanding the city increase the time shoppers are allowed to park along the strip, claiming the present one-hour limit doesn’t give clients enough time to go from store to store— and many times results in them getting expensive parking tickets.

Joseph Loccisano, owner of Rocco’s Pizza between 78th and 79th streets, has collected over 1,000 signatures in the past month from shoppers and business owners on Fifth Avenue who say that they want the city to extend parking times to two hours so that shoppers can visit more than one business at a time — without getting ticketed.

“There are people being ticketed like crazy and it’s killing business,” said Loccisano.

Fifth Avenue has about 330 shops between 65th and 85th streets, with just 21 vacancies. But retailers say the number of empty storefronts could rise significantly if shoppers who drive to the area aren’t given more time to stroll the strip.

“It’s a very busy business district; it needs to be treated that way,” said Loccisano.

Fifth Avenue between 65th and 95th streets has 255 parking spaces, according to the city, and merchants say that inefficient rules create rampant double parking, despite the availability of an additional 205 spots in a city-owned parking garage between 85th and 86th streets.

“It doesn’t work,” said Jim Clark, president of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District, of the lot. “It fills up and it never alleviated the double parking like it was supposed to when it was built in 1970.”

The Department of Transportation says it is studying how drivers use the spaces to figure out ways to make parking more readily available.

That could mean raising the price of metered spots (as it has done in Park Slope), changing loading zones, or even barring non-commerical vehicles from parking during certain times to accommodate delivery vehicles — something that was put in place earlier this year on Church Avenue in Flatbush.

And merchants we talked to said they’ll take any plan that makes parking easier — even if it means jacking up the price of metered spots.

“To get a two-hour meter or to extend the limits, the benefit is more important than the price,” said Loccisano.

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