Judy Cartwright writes the Community Watchdog column
I'm reaching out to you with respect to a parking ticket my daughter received from the Village of Valley Stream. She goes into Manhattan on Saturdays and always parks at the same parking lot, where a sign said No Restrictions Saturday, Sunday and Holidays. In early September, she was ticketed for an expired meter. She walked over to the sign to find it had been replaced with a new sign. I'm hoping you can help resolve this matter.
-- Kim Schutz, Franklin Square
For the first four months Diana Schutz parked in the lot on Saturdays, the sign read "No restrictions Sat. Sun & Hol." But one Saturday she returned to find a ticket. "There were 15-20 other cars in the lot all with tickets," she wrote to Valley Stream Village Court, and said there had been no notification of the policy change.
Village Administrator Robert Barra told us the village didn't provide a grace period for people who received tickets because signs announced the new policy. "We changed every single sign," he said. "They tell you what the restrictions are. People have to read the signs."
We probably wouldn't have noticed the wording change, either: The existing sign at the entrance to the metered lot appeared much the same, with a new phrase -- "Enforced 24 hours a day and 7 days a week" -- taped over text that had read, "No Restrictions Saturday, Sunday and Holidays."
Kim and Diana Schutz' persistence did pay off: They made the case to Village Court, and the ticket -- with a $45 fine -- was dismissed.
"After my initial conversation with the Village of Valley Stream, I had written a letter to the court and enclosed the original summons explaining the incident and requesting it be waived. Disposition is complete and the ticket was dismissed!" Kim Schutz told us in an email.
The parking lot at the Long Island Rail Road station was the first affected by the change. (The lot also has sections for residents that require a $30 annual parking permit.)
Like many other municipalities, Valley Stream is raising fees to generate revenue because the state-imposed tax cap limits the increase in the property tax levy. The new parking meter policy is essential, Barra said, because, "We can't keep balancing the budget with the tax cap in place."
If there's a lesson, it's this: Take a bag of quarters if you're planning to park in the metered lot. The fee is now 25 cents for each 30 minutes.