What's the number 1 issue on the minds of Astoria residents? Overzealous traffic cops ticketing their vehicles. City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. has been getting an earful about it, and he says his constituents are being unfairly targeted because the city knows they're a bunch of responsible, law-abiding citizens who actually pay up. "I’ve seen agents trail someone who pulled out of a spot and then cut them off like they were a SWAT team," Vallone tells The Times-Ledger. He also says a funeral procession was ticketed for "slightly" blocking an intersection box, and another time an agent sprawled over the hood of a car after a driver sitting in a no-parking zone tried to pull away. Some might call that dedication, but Astoria's not going to take it any more!
More horror stories: Attorney Simone Petromelis The Times-Ledger that during the Greek Orthodox holy week in April, "I pulled into a spot, which turned out to be a legal spot, to let out my elderly mother. The agent ran up and pressed against my car. She wouldn’t let me see her name. It was like a drug bust...She laughed at me and said, 'Too bad, it’s not my holiday.'" And Harry Panagiotopoulos, owner of ice cream shop Igloo Café, says he's paid an estimated $10,000 in parking tickets in the eight years he has been located in Astoria.
To stop the insanity, Vallone, who sponsored the recent parking "Grace Period" bill, is also writing a bill that would prevent agents from giving drivers double-parking tickets as they wait to pull into a spot or pause to drop off a passenger. He also wants a law requiring the DOT to provide written notification before changing parking rules and to wait 30 days before changing meter rates.