Manorhaven parking permit plan draws fire

Noah Manskar
A woman speaks at Wednesday's meeting about the Village of Manorhaven's parking permit proposal. (Photo by Noah Manskar)

A proposal to require paid permits for street parking in Manorhaven met with heated opposition from residents at a meeting Wednesday night.

The program, proposed by village Trustee Ken Kraft, would require residents to buy a $15 sticker every two years to avoid being ticketed when parking on certain streets during certain hours of the day.

The requirement would discourage cars from outside the village from parking on already crowded streets and improve public safety, Kraft and proponents of the program said.

But several of the 80 residents at Thursday’s meeting said it could do more harm than good. Some said it unfairly targeted immigrants and others, while others said the village should just enforce existing parking laws.

Village officials emphasized that the proposal is in the early stages of consideration.

“We are not anywhere near making a decision” on the proposal, Mayor Jim Avena said.

The proposal stoked passion at Wednesday’s standing-room-only meeting. Nassau County police were called at one point because the modest Village Hall was overcrowded.

Under Kraft’s plan, only cars with village stickers could park on the street overnight or on congested streets — such as the roads near Manorhaven Beach Park, which residents said get clogged with cars during the summer months.

The stickers would make it easier to identify cars that come from outside the village and hopefully reduce the number of cars with out-of-state registrations, Kraft said.

Village staff and local fire and police departments would have access to the list of cars with permits, which could be useful in emergencies, Kraft said.

Revenue from the $15 fee and any fines issued could help cover the cost of printing the stickers and any new signs, as well as help fund the village’s recent code enforcement efforts, Kraft said.

But Lucretia Steele, a former village deputy mayor, said the program would also require additional staff to run efficiently.

The village Board of Trustees shelved a similar program then-Trustee Kevin Gately proposed in 2014, when Steele was on the board, because it was too expensive, she said.

At the end of the meeting, only about half a dozen people raised their hands when Avena asked who supported it.

Many residents said better enforcement of existing parking laws would create plenty of revenue for the village and help fix parking problems.

Other residents expressed concerns about friends and family members getting ticketed when visiting their homes. Some said the $15 permit could create a financial burden, especially if it were applied to multiple cars.

A few said the program, with its goal of sanctioning outsiders, would unfairly target immigrants and people of color, regardless of whether or not that was the intended effect.

“It just makes me feel very uncomfortable to see this coming, happening here so close to home,” said a Hispanic woman who did not give her name.

Her comments suggesting that the plan targeted immigrants drew jeers from the crowd.

But some residents said the plan was just a starting point for a solution to an ongoing problem. One man said the village’s lack of a permit program probably lags behind other municipalities.

“Ken [Kraft] isn’t trying to discriminate against anyone,'” said a woman named Barbara, who did not give her last name. “All they’re trying to say is, ‘What would you like to see us do to solve this problem?'”

Kraft stressed that many details have yet to be worked out. The village Board of Trustees plans to discuss it at a work session meeting on May 11 and hold another town hall-style meeting on the issue.

If it does move forward, the village will have to be careful to make sure the program is legal, Steven Leventhal, the village attorney, said. State courts have ruled that certain parking restrictions favoring residents are discriminatory, but the village still has broad authority to regulate parking, he said.

“We can make some distinctions, but they have to be reasonable, nondiscriminatory distinctions, Leventhal said.

The Board of Trustees’ work session meeting is at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 11, at Village Hall, located at 33 Manorhaven Blvd.

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