Our readers often complain to us about car dealers in the neighborhood parking their cars on residential blocks and gobbling up their parking spots. So we decided to look into the legality behind it and found that, according to the Department of Transportation, commercial vehicles, including cars being sold by dealers, cannot sit in a public street parking spot longer than three hours.
According to locals, though, some dealers and leasing companies have been wildly abusing the privilege, leaving cars on residential streets for days on end. We’ve even heard of some cases where they swap around the license plates to fool authorities into thinking the cars have moved.
Now, let’s be clear: this is not every local dealer – or even the majority of them. But a few bad apples are giving the entire local industry a bad reputation. So we’ve put together this handy guide for how you can complain about illegally parked cars with dealership plates in the hopes that we can curb the practice, and level the playing ground for the good-guy dealers and leasers who store their cars responsibly (and, often, at a cost).
If you see a car parked day after day in the same spot sporting dealer plates (which are clearly marked with the word “Dealer” on it), snap a photo for your records, and note the location by the address of the nearest building. Then it’s time to pick up the phone, turn your computer on and get that precious parking spot back.
- Call 311 and tell them that a car dealer is storing their goods on a residential block. Offer the photo, which should include the plates and hopefully a time stamp. The 311 representative will give you a service request number. Write it down.
- Follow that up with a call to your Community Board. For those living in Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Gerritsen Beach and Homecrest, it’s going to be Community Board 15. The Community Board provides much the same function as 311 – but with a human touch and a personal stake, improving the chances of a follow-up with the appropriate agencies. Community Board 15’s number is (718) 332-3008. When you call, tell them you have the 311 service request number. They’ll do their thing.
- If it’s a chronic problem in a certain area, stop by the 61st Precinct’s Community Council meetings, which take place on the second Wednesday of every month. There you can speak to the commanding officer directly and publicly, and often in the presence of elected officials, putting a little bit of pressure on the NYPD to provide a response. If the cops keep finding cars from the same dealer, they’ll likely stop by their offices to have a word with the owner.
- Call your councilman. This one’s extra credit if you really want to push the point. If you take this road, make sure to give the councilman’s representative that 311 number.
Finally, tell Sheepshead Bites about it. We want to know where exactly this is happening. If you’re concerned about privacy, email us at nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com, otherwise, leave the location in the comments, as well as an estimate of how long it’s been going on. We’re especially interested in the locations and timing, and are looking at putting a map together to identify problem areas.
One thing: please don’t speculate in our comments about which dealerships are doing this. Unless we can verify it independently, we don’t want to see this post become a place for making accusations that can harm potentially innocent local businesses.