Bronx Lawmakers Want to Bring Auto Repair Shop Oversight

New York State Sen. Gustavo Rivera, D-Bronx, is pictured speaking in the Senate chambers.

A pair of New York state senators want to bring more oversight of local car repair shops---including allowing a history of parking violations or other complaints to be part of the ability to register cars or receive a state license to operate.

Sen. Gustavo Rivera, D-Bronx, and Sen. Luis Sepulveda, D-Bronx, have introduced S.5936 to amend the state Vehicle and Traffic Law to create a system in which motor vehicle and repair shops are overseen by a commissioner to make sure they are operating legally. Companion legislation (A.6951) has been introduced by Assemblyman George Alvarez, D-Bronx.

As written, the legislation would add to existing registration requirements that the commissioner be required to consider the history of violations of state law or reported criminal activity at the location, the effect of vehicle traffic and parking and any other factors specified by state or local law. Local boards would be able to provide a certified letter of support to be considered when the state considers a new license for a repair shop.

The commissioner would also be given the power to consider a history of repeated parking violations and complaints from municipalities and community organizations as factors to approve or renew a repair shop’s certificate to operate. Sepulveda, Rivera and Alvarez also propose allowing a public hearing to determine if a repair shop’s certificate of registration should be approved or denied.

“This bill will allow community input on auto shop licensing from their local community board, municipality, and DMV commissioner,” the lawmakers wrote in their legislative justification. “This will allow residents to provide feedback on the community impact of local auto shops during the license renewal process, alerting auto shop owners and the DMV of local impact. Community input prior to licensing and relicensing is not a new idea, it is similar in nature to the SLA soliciting community input prior to granting liquor licenses. Auto shops affect their neighborhoods in various ways, so approval of their application or renewal of a certificate of registration should be subject to a review by the DMV commissioner with the consultation of the local municipalities or community boards.”

The legislation wouldn’t apply to home-operated repair shops that operate without state licensing. And many of the issues cited by Alvarez, Rivera and Sepulveda are specific to New York City. The lawmakers cite the inability of the New York City Police Department and Department of Sanitation to tow vehicles parked in front of auto shops that are illegally parked every day and say fines and fees aren’t enough to prohibit illegal parking in the city.

Under current law, the state Motor Vehicles Department does not accept complaints regarding auto shops’ illegal parking in residential areas and does not consider the community impact on the community when considering state-required licenses.

“Some auto shop businesses participate in illegal activity such as using residential parking for cars under repair and parking cars under repair on the sidewalk, blocking traffic and preventing residents from getting to and from their homes as they are forced to travel in the street,” Sepulveda, Alvarez and Rivera wrote in the legislative justification. “This particularly hinders disabled people from using pedestrian pathways. Neighboring businesses are impeded from receiving goods via truck deliveries. This practice by auto shops also limits residential parking in dense neighborhoods. It is unfair for auto shop businesses to restrict both public sidewalks, traffic flow, and parking from the community for their commercial purposes. These impacts and other input from community members should be important for the state to consider as these businesses seek various approvals, so this bill creates processes in New York City to operationalize such input.”

We thank the Post-Journal for reprint permission.

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