Senior to city: Sell me the parking spot in front of my home!

Brooklyn Daily

Hey, Mayor Bloomberg — how much do you want for the parking spot in front of my home?

A disabled Bay Ridge civic activist tired of having to park blocks away from his apartment wants the city let him rent a space in front of his Shore Road building — and he’s willing to pay $600 a year for it!

Beloved Community Board 10 curmudgeon Allen Bortnick suffers from a neurological disorder that does not preclude him from battling the city over a wide range of issues on a regular basis — but it does make it difficult for him to walk more than 100 feet at a time.

So he believes he should be able to rent a parking space in front of his apartment building near 72nd Street for his beloved 1997 Ford Crown Victoria.

“It’s worth it to me because I can’t walk,” he said. “If I come back from a community board meeting at 10 or 11 pm, I can’t find anywhere to park.”

Bortnick says that his parking rental plan would not extend to everyone — just people with disabilities.

“The idea is not to make this a millionaires playground,” said Bortnick, 81. “I’m not asking for favors that I don’t deserve. It is just to provide legitimate handicapped people with a parking space so that they can survive.”

Under Bortnick’s proposal, the city would install poles in residential areas bearing placards that say the spot is reserved for the bearer of the listed license plate.

His idea is somewhat in step with some borough lawmakers who wanted to give residents living near the soon-to-be opened Barclay’s Arena the ability to purchase parking permits for their blocks. Residents would not have been guaranteed a spot, but roughly eight out of every 10 spaces on residential streets near the arena would have been reserved for permit holders.

The proposal passed the City Council, but died in Albany when state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), who opposes street parking permits, stopped the bill from coming to a vote.

“The idea that someone would have to pay to park in front of their own home is ludicrous,” Golden said at the time. “This is nothing more than another tax on our communities.”

Golden did not respond to a phone call seeking comment on Bortnick’s idea.

But Bortnick’s plan has one major flaw — his $600 offer is way too low.

If the city were to entertain such an idea, the fee would have to be in line with current city parking garage rates, which, on average, amount to $170 a month. If Bortnick was allowed to rent a spot in front of his home, he would probably have to pay more than $2,000 a year.

Still, other disabled Ridgites think Bortnick’s plan should be considered.

“I think it’s a good idea for people who have a real problem walking,” said Jean Ryan, a wheelchair-confined Ridgite who regularly lobbies on behalf of local disabled people.

And at least one Bay Ridge legislator is listening to Bortnick’s pleas.

“Designating handicapped parking spaces in residential areas is something we are currently looking at,” said Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge). “However, the idea is in the very early preliminary stages right now.”

Currently, disabled drivers with city handicapped permits can park in any no-parking zone — except for taxi stands or spaces reserved for doctors, press, diplomats and government employees. They cannot park in front of hydrants or in bus stops.

Reader Feedback

tee gee from sunset park says:
do what i do....ask around for a ride to and from or take a car service...it is much more convenient (and it will cost him less than $600 a year) to do it...and heck, at his age he should be required to take a driving test to see if he can still drive safely...
Feb. 22, 2012, 4:09 pm
Andrew Kent from Manhattan Beach says:
As a disabled driver, I am in accord with any effort to have a percentage of on-street parking spots reserved for cars with NYC handicapped parking placards, however, reserving specific spots for specific vehicles does seem unfair, especially when homeowners are already allowed to park in front of their own driveways and vehicles with permits are allowed to park in practically any space whether reserved or not.

With the median age increasing and many hundreds of war veterans returning home with disabilities, the number of disabled car owners, and the number of on-street parking permits, are likely to increase in the coming years with no increase in the amount of on-street parking. With new development adding to the number of drivers looking for parking, it's already a free-for-all parking frenzy that does prove disproportionately difficult for disabled motorists who must often park blocks from their homes. But creating special handicapped spots, and then assigning one to an individual who may not even need it on a given day, only contributes to the shortage of parking spots a quota system would be designed to ameliorate.

A vehicle with an on-street permit may park during alternate side parking restrictions, which is when many disabled drivers move their vehicles to secure a spot closer to their homes. Of course, this doesn't help this gentleman, who often returns home late at night, but his is a problem faced by many disabled drivers, and, despite his community activism, giving his case special treatment would set a dangerous precedent that would create an uneven playing field for other drivers with special parking needs.

I feel for this gentleman, as I am in a similar dilemma, albeit without a private home to park in front of, but a more equitable solution to his problem would be to work out transportation arrangements with friends and other community people and let whatever reserved handicapped parking the City might create be taken on a first come-first served basis.
Feb. 22, 2012, 4:52 pm
again from owls head says:
Bortnick is the well that keeps on giving
Feb. 23, 2012, 9:22 am
GR from Bay Ridge says:
Completely flawed idea. It's good to think of ways to allow him to park in front of or very close to his apartment when he needs to, what happens to the parking spot if he's gone for hours at a time or for an entire weekend? That spot can't be used by anyone else if it's reserved for him 100% of the time.

We should definitely designate handicapped parking spots, but they should not be tied to one person. It's a tough problem, but this is not the solution.
Feb. 23, 2012, 9:58 am
Killmoto from NYC says:
Wait, what? 81 years old with a neurological disorder that makes it hard to walk. I'm guessing that somehow impact a person's ability to safely drive. And driving a large car no less...

Why not a mobility scooter?
Feb. 23, 2012, 10:28 am
Joe from Crown Heights says:
If you need immediate access to your car in order to maintain your livelihood, then I suggest you rent/buy a home with a garage or parking lot on the property, not try to license public land for your private, personal use. I'm sorry if that sounds harsh for someone with disabilities, but public land is for public use and private land is for your personal property (i.e. storing your car). I think it's already a huge privilege and a major public burden that people are even allowed to store their cars on the public streets as it is, and the idea of people reserving little parcels of it for their personal use is going way too far. I could see maybe having one or two spots on a block reserved for handicapped parking, like at shopping mall, but not a spot reserved just for Mr. Bortnick only.
Feb. 23, 2012, 10:44 am
Jack from Park Slope says:
Just because some foul, old person is very demanding and needy doesn't mean they get to buy up pieces of the public street.
Feb. 24, 2012, 4:03 am
Lenny says:
Its hard to argue against the vets or the elderly or the handicapped but when does it end? What about the regular guy who just can't find a spot after working all day for $8 an hour? Where's his special treatment? And what if I live on a block that just so happens to have 4 or 5 handicapped or disabled people. Now that's 5 spots taken away. And what about me, John Q. Taxpayer? Where's "my" parking spot?
Feb. 24, 2012, 9:59 am
Brooklynite from Brooklyn says:
Take away this old man's drivers license, asap.
Feb. 24, 2012, 10:18 pm
Dave from Park Slope says:
Who decides who's "disabled" and who isn't?
Feb. 26, 2012, 12:26 am
Luciano from Berkeley says:
In Europe this is absolutely standard. Every handicapped person with a driving license has right to a reserved parking spot right in front of his or her home.
Jan. 29, 4:11 am

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