To the Editor:
In 2009, the New York State Legislature passed Vehicle and Traffic Law Section 1662(d), giving Mamaroneck legal authority to create a residential parking district adjacent to the Larchmont Metronorth station. Then Gov. David Paterson signed the bill into law on July 26, 2009, and stae Sen. Suzy Oppenheimer announced, “This legislation empowers the Town of Mamaroneck to take the steps necessary to significantly improve parking problems for the residents of this neighborhood, many of whom are senior citizens.”
The law defined the boundary of the statutory parking district as “Washington Square, North Chatsworth between Myrtle and Edgewood, New Jefferson, Old Jefferson, Murray Avenue between Myrtle Avenue and Leafy Lane and Lester Place.” The legislature imposed no obligation on Mamaroneck to create the statutory parking district, but once created, the town was legally obligated to give all the residents of the streets named in the statute all the rights, privileges and benefits of the state law.
What Mamaroneck did next was shocking. Instead of using the law for the benefit of the residents of Washington Square as the legislature intended, the Town Council greased the skids for a politically connected property owner, quietly passing a local ordinance for the exclusive benefit of just his street, Lester Place.
On Oct. 4, 2013, a resident of Lester Place told me during a chance meeting in the clerk’s office, “I have a friend who’s a lawyer who helped me with the town. He got us the parking permits.”
It obviously didn’t occur to the Council‑or the lawyer who engineered this breach of the public trust‑that in doing that political favor, Mamaroneck violated the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution for which they can be made to answer in damages.
After this news got around our neighborhood, the Town Council was persuaded to consider an ordinance for the benefit of the other five streets in VTL 1662-d and that ordinance is coming up for a public hearing and vote. A few Washington Square residents with access to private parking prefer the status quo as does the Town Council, which thinks an expanded residential permit program will be too much work for our $33 million town government.
Besides, they like the free, convenient parking on our streets when they go to the city and the many thousands of dollars profit from our parking tickets. Meanwhile the commuters continue to descend on our neighborhood like locusts.
But the clock is ticking on my notice of claim for Mamaroneck’s constitutional violations. If the Town of Mamaroneck doesn’t give us our parking permits this summer, I will ask a federal judge to sort it out. One way or another, we are getting parking permits.