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Cohen blasts DOT ticketing

Albert Cohen, a Democratic candidate running for City Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s (D-Forest Hills) seat, slammed the city Monday morning for what he called a “ticketing blitz” on 108th Street in Forest Hills.

Joined by local residents and business leaders, Cohen accused the city Department of Transportation of ticketing residents confused by new parking lines on 108th Street that force drivers to back into a spot instead of pulling in head-first.

“Local meter maids are relentlessly policing the area when people are having difficulty parking their vehicles in reverse,” Cohen said at a press event he held Monday outside his campaign office at 64-23 108th Street. “It’s especially difficult for seniors to pull off this task.”

The city DOT flipped the parking lines on 108th Street between 63rd Drive and 65th Avenue at the end of July in what a DOT spokesman said was an attempt to make the area safer for drivers because individuals will be pulling out with the flow of traffic instead of maneuvering against oncoming cars.

Monty Dean, the DOT’s assistant press secretary, said in a previous interview the new parking space lines “are the continuation of a DOT policy started in 1994 to establish back-in angle parking where possible, as it is safer because drivers leaving the spaces have a better view of oncoming traffic.”

Cohen and Eduardo Giraldo, vice president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens, said the new parking lines and overzealous ticketing have forced business from the area.

“Customers are afraid to visit our businesses,” Giraldo said. “People are going to the mall because they can park there without worrying.”

Haei Frouz, who owns a grocery store on 108th Street and has lived in Forest Hills for 22 years, said he has “never seen a situation like this.”

“This is ridiculous,” Frouz said. “People see a $60 ticket on their car, and they’ll never come to this neighborhood again.”

Frouz and Cohen added that they have witnessed numerous near-accidents in which some drivers pull in head-first into the parking spots while others back into them.

“For years and years, people have been pulling in,” Cohen said. “That’s what they’re used to.”

Cohen said he is pressuring the DOT to reverse the lines to what they were before or stop ticketing cars until individuals get used to the new situation.

“The city needs to find legitimate ways to make money instead of harassing working people in our neighborhood,” Cohen said.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

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