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Longtime Bayside resident and community activist Mandingo Tshaka frequents the streets and sidewalks of his hometown on a regular basis, often exchanging words with passersby well aware of his local status and history.
But there are some routes Tshaka has been unable to pass without putting himself in harm’s way, the activist said.
Zoning in on Bayside Chrysler Jeep Dodge, at 212-19 Northern Blvd., Tshaka said he typically must enter a one-way street to pass through because the cars being serviced occupy the sidewalks on 212th and 213th streets.
“You just cannot get by,” said Tshaka, who maneuvers through town and around the company’s cars on his motorized scooter. “It is a disservice to the surrounding community.”
Management at the dealership did not respond for comment.
Tshaka criticized the servicing operations of the facility on Northern Boulevard, arguing that operating on and also washing such a high volume of cars in that area violates zoning laws. Community Board 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld had reached out to the city Department of Buildings to request a review of the dealership last month.
“The department came back and determined no special approval was required for what they were doing there,” Seinfeld said. “The parking on the sidewalk is generally a difficult thing to enforce.”
The Bayside dealership’s C2-2 building, which is classified as a commercial overlay district mapped within a residential district, may service local retail needs, including repair service, according to the Department of City Planning.
But Seinfeld said CB 11 has received countless complaints from community residents unhappy with area dealerships using surrounding sidewalk space to rotate vehicles in and out of the building. The best way to combat the issue, Seinfeld said, was for residents to report directly to the 311 calling service whenever they see cars being illegally parked around dealerships or on sidewalks.
“When it is being seen, it is being enforced generally,” Seinfeld said. “It is a big problem with a lot of dealerships in the area.”
A spokesman at the 111th Precinct said an active campaign to enforce illegal parking around area car dealerships has been ongoing for police. From time to time, the precinct will conduct sweeps of the area to remove cars blocking sidewalks and ticket illegally parked vehicles, which dealership workers have said were dealt with accordingly.
But the slaps on the wrist, Tshaka said, have not been enough to stop the cars from occupying the sidewalks. He said by allowing the issue to persist, the community runs the risk of becoming complacent.
Tshaka has fired off letters to area elected officials, including city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who have acknowledged the ongoing problem and were working with community leaders to explore a more permanent solution.
“Apathy in a community is its death. The average person does not challenge the municipality,” Tshaka said. “Not enough people know or understand what has been going on.”
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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