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The "larger conversation" about illegal parking during arena events means nothing ever changes

This is the fifth of ten articles on the 5/7/19 Quality of Life meeting. The first concerned the project schedule. The second concerned The Brodsky Organization's share of the B4 tower. The third concerned noisy weekend construction. The fourth concerned opacity in the Barclays Center calendars. The sixth concerned traffic issues. The seventh concerned oversight. The eighth concerned the Community Liaison Office. The ninth concerned the developer's update. The tenth concerned the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation.
Ever since the Barclays Center opened, nearby residents have documented--at least at certain well-attended events, especially concerts that attract audiences not comfortable with public transit--vehicles that idle or park illegally, at bus stops, at hydrants, blocking bicycle lanes.

And, more than six years later, little is done about it.

One resident raised the issue, pointing to a vehicle parked at a hydrant throughout an event.

Tobi Jaiyesimi, Atlantic Yards project manager for Empire State Development, the state authority overseeing/shepherding the project, said that the New York Police Department is in charge.

December 2015 limo at Bergen Street bus stop
"They'd have to tow about 200 cars," another resident muttered. (See the Parking archives in Atlantic Yards Watch, which is now mostly moribund. Here's some video coverage.)

"It's part of a larger conversation," Jaiyesimi said. "It's a problem. We send notices and follow up with NYPD accordingly. There's a need for additional resources for the division that actually handles traffic enforcement and does towing, but that’s a resource issue."

"We’ve followed up with the mayor’s office, but that’s systematic, and may take some time to change," she said.

Not a priority

No NYPD representative was at the meeting, though they regularly attended in the past. The 78th Precinct is a block away from the arena, but the cops there understandably prioritize crime-fighting. That means those regular violations--handled by a different division--get by.

It seems clear that city officials, in order to ease Barclays Center operations, have decided on a laissez-faire approach. It would be very easy, and perhaps a public relations coup, for the city to do a blitz and ticket dozens of vehicles every night. The revenue reaped might even exceed the additional staff cost.

Jaiyesimi's reference to "a larger conversation" to me recalled Politico columnist Jack Shafer's recent essay, Why Politicians Love to Monologue About ‘Conversation', subtitled "Calling for a dialogue is an easy way to avoid actually having one."

Querying the Barclays Center rep

When Jordan Ballard, Government Affairs Manager for BSE Global (which operates the Barclays Center), got up, neighborhood resident Steve Ettlinger referred to a dialogue they'd previously had regarding such illegal parking.

"In your email to me, you said we should refer anyone interested to ESD and NYPD," Ettlinger said. "We've been doing that for years."

"I think government relations people from Barclays and community relations people from Barclays should take the step to get the action necessary to address this problem," he added. "It's at every big event. It's entirely predictable."

"My offer still stands to take you out for a quick walk," Ettlinger said. "I know the hot spots."

"You have my contact," Ballard said.

"I sent that," Ettlinger replied. "You told me to address the police department."

"The police department has legal jurisdiction over ticketing," Ballard said.

"Of course," Ettlinger said. "And they might listen to you say 'we have a problem here.' It's a problem. It's one of public safety. I’m not talking about inconvenience. I’m talking fire hydrants, bus stops, no standing zones. The addresses where I’ve sent in complaints. the addresses were always the same. On nights we did surveys, we found as many as 120 illegally parked cars within a 20-minute period. That’s a lot. And that’s brought on by Barclays."

"I'll be happy to take that back to our operations team," Ballard said.

Of course it's not in the Barclays Center's interest to do anything to constrain its visitors, or to spend its precious political capital on protecting the neighborhood--at least, perhaps, until there's another dramatically disruptive event, such as the buses for a March 2015 memorial service inundating the street.