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Sunnyside leaders want city to reconsider parking rules

Sunnyside business owners and western Queens officials want the city Department of Transportation to change the parking rules along Queens Boulevard, saying the rules benefit commuters at the expense of local businesses.

Ciaran Staunton, who opened the pub and coffee shop Molly Blooms at Queens Boulevard near 43rd Street in Sunnyside in March, said his morning business has been hindered because of a no-standing rule on the boulevard from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. between 39th and 49th streets Monday through Friday.

He said between this rule and the 12-hour parking spots beneath the No. 7 train, which are often taken up by commuters leaving their cars and taking the subway to Manhattan, shoppers have no place to park in the morning.

“Both parking issues have had an enormous negative affect on the ability of Sunnyside residents to shop in Sunnyside,” Staunton said.

The DOT uses imposes the rule to facilitate the flow of traffic during rush hour by allowing motorists to use the fifth lane, which would normally be taken up by parked cars.

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who wrote a letter to DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan June 23 requesting that the no standing rule end at 8 a.m., said the rush-hour traffic is largely done after that time.

“If someone is driving through Sunnyside at 9 a.m., they’re already late for work,” Gianaris said.

Gianaris also requested that the parking spots beneath the No. 7 train be reduced to four hours. He said parking regulations should be sensitive to the changing community’s needs.

“Sunnyside is a great and growing community that is seeing new, young families move in by the day,” Gianaris said.

U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) wrote a similar letter July 6. They said having the fifth lane ´╗┐free because of the no-standing rule does not actually improve the traffic, as many trucks use the lane to make deliveries in the morning.

Crowley, who is a frequent visitor to Queens Boulevard, said the rule hinders mom-and-pop businesses.

“Someone stops off for a coffee, it costs them $2 for coffee and $100 for a ticket,” Crowley said.

Staunton said the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce wants the times changed. He also met with Queens Borough DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy about a month ago and hopes to meet with Sadik-Khan regarding this issue.

“I’m confident we can get it moved on before the fall,” Staunton said.

The DOT is working with electeds on the issue.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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