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Parking tickets would stop cop layoffs

Queens drivers who hope that traffic enforcement officers will not catch expired parking meters are in for a disappointment with the planned hiring of 300 more traffic agents to issue parking tickets in congested areas around the city.

The mayor’s new budget plan calls for the agents to raise $69 million in revenue for the New York Police Department by issuing a total of 1.7 million additional parking tickets.

The revenue raised by increased parking enforcement is expected to stave off layoffs and other cost-cutting measures to the Police Department, a police spokesman said.

Police would not say when the agents would be hired or which areas in Queens would be targeted under the mayor’s dreaded proposal, which comes four months after fines for many parking violations increased to $105 from $55.

Parking at municipal lots has also become more expensive, with some lots going up from 25 cents for half an hour to the same price for 20 minutes in an earlier move unrelated to the latest budget proposals.

Judy Limpert, president of the Bayside Business Association, acknowledged that more tickets issued on Bell Boulevard might deter potential shoppers from coming to the area, but she said there was a positive side to the plan.

Limpert said 80 percent of metered spaces were taken by shopkeepers and their employees who feed the meters all day. She said if these meter feeders would instead park their cars in the surrounding neighborhood, spaces would be freed up for shoppers.

“Logically, wouldn’t you, as a shopkeeper, want to keep all those spots open for people who want to stop and shop?” she asked.

“We’re all just going to have to be diligent about where we park.”

Stan Markowitz, co-chairman of the steering committee for the proposed business improvement districts on Austin Street and Continental Avenue in Forest Hills, said congestion was more of a deterrent to potential shoppers than strict parking-meter enforcement.

“‘Two-hour parking is a good parking limitation for shopping, and it gives people the chance to return and park again,” said Markowitz, senior vice president of Muss Development Co. in Forest Hills. The company owns the building containing Barnes & Noble and other stores on Austin Street.

“It’s not a bad idea to have visible enforcement.”

     —Ayala Ben-Yehuda

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