CB 11: Mayor’s Citywide Zoning Plan Fails To Address Parking Issues In Bensonhurst

parking curb cuts
Photo by Zachary Williams/Bensonhurst Bean

One night last year, Bensonhurst resident Adam Cruz, 23, searched for more than two hours for parking, only to double park and fall asleep in front of his house near of 78th Street and 16th Avenue.

“A few hours later, my family just knocked on my window, waking me up. They’re like ‘Hey, where have you been?’” he said. “I was like ‘I couldn’t find parking.’”

Cruz is just one of many residents who say there is not nearly enough street parking in the neighborhood, one reason Community Board 11 (CB 11) is urging New York’s Department of City Planning (DCP) to study local traffic conditions more thoroughly before implementing the mayor’s proposed citywide rezoning plan.

The city’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability proposal — which began the public review process on September 21 — are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-year housing goal to build or preserve 200,000 affordable units citywide. However, the regulations designate most of Bensonhurst and Bath Beach a “transit zone,” which would eliminate off-street parking requirements for affordable and senior housing units built in the neighborhood.

“[CB 11’s] Planning and Zoning Committee agrees that the goals of affordable and senior housing are laudable, but is concerned regarding overdevelopment, congestion, and the inclusion of our community in the ‘transit zone,’” said CB11 district manager Marnee Elias-Pavia. “The committee recommends further study of our community before eliminating parking restrictions.”

One concern is that the DCP has underestimated the prevalence of car ownership in the district, since many vehicles parked on local streets have out-of-state plates, according to Elias Pavia. Furthermore, officials say the zoning plan fails to address illegal home conversions and the neighborhood’s recurring problem of residents installing makeshift driveways in front of their properties, putting an additional strain on neighborhood parking.

Local community boards have long urged the city to crack down on illegal driveways, known as curb cuts. Last year, Councilman Vincent Gentile vowed to resuscitate a bill that would require the city’s Department of Transportation [DOT] to repair unauthorized curb cuts at the homeowner’s expense, but it didn’t get far in City Council.

parking curb cuts
Photo by Zachary Williams/Bensonhurst Bean

Meanwhile, curb cuts and other parking woes continue to plague Bensonhurst. On 79th Street between 19th and 20th Avenues — a particularly troublesome block — there are approximately three dozen private parking spots, leaving just 46 on-street parking spaces remaining. (When we visited last week, not a single parking spot was free.)

“You have the apartment buildings here and there’s not enough parking anymore,” said Gregory Boyle, 60, who lives on the block, but has his own garage. “Depending on whether they have kids, most families have two, sometimes three cars to a family. So it’s getting tough. It really is.”

[Additional reporting by Rachel Silberstein]