A parking courtesy the City of Long Beach apparently extended to local realtors in years past was called into question last week.
About 10 years ago, the Long Beach Police Department extended to realtors and other groups a temporary professional courtesy that permitted them to park their cars and turn on their flasher lights in No Parking Zones for up to 30 minutes as they showed a dwelling to a prospective buyer, according to the Long Beach-Island Park Brokers Council. The courtesy, which was also extended to tenants of high-rise buildings on Shore Road and Broadway, would not necessarily stop police from issuing a ticket to realtors, but the courtesy allowed realtors to explain to officers why they were parked illegally.
That courtesy became a point of contention last week after Jim Hennessy, a former City Council president and Republican, wrote in his blog for Patch that the courtesy was “new” and “unprecedented,” and he strongly suggested that it was extended for members of the Democratic administration with ties to real estate — namely, council members Fran Adelson, a realtor with Prudential, and Scott Mandel, a real estate attorney, as well as Michael Zapson, president of the Long Beach Democratic Committee, also a real estate attorney. In his blog, Hennessy linked to an internal LBPD email that a sergeant sent on July 18 to police officers, which read:
“Realtors have been given permission to park in No Parking Zones provided they have their flashers on, have a business card in the dash, and a flyer in the dash stating realtor gets 30 Min parking in No Parking Zone.”
Adelson said that she had nothing to do with the policy but declined to speak further on the issue, referring Patch to the Brokers Council.
The Brokers Council is a local forum for estate agents who meet monthly to discuss issues in their field, and meet with groups, such as the Board of Education and City Council. Membership is not a requirement, according to the Brokers Council. When asked if Adelson, Mandel or Zapson are or were involved in any way with the Brokers Council, the organization did not return a comment, and never provide an official statement on the issue.
The LBPD, however, suggested that the courtesy has basically been an unwritten policy that goes back many years. “This courtesy extends to every profession, not just realtors,” said Eric Cregeen, the department’s public information officer. “We have delivery trucks double parked on Park Avenue all day long because parking is a premium down there as everybody knows.”
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But Hennessy denied that the courtesy was granted in years past, at least during his years in office.
“As a former council president and member for four years, I can tell you that that is not true as far back as 2004,” he said.
Hennessy added that during he and former Police Commissioner Thomas Sofield Sr.'s tenure, business owners would sometimes ask for this courtesy but it was not granted.
“They were denied each and every time,” Hennessy said. “The only organizations where the courtesy was extended was to houses of worship on holy days and only houses of worship.”
City attorney Corey Klein did not return requests to comment on the issue, but Cregeen indicated that the courtesy would continue.
“The Long Beach Police Department will continue to use discretion for all minor violations, and discretion is meted out equally as it always has been,” he said.
Cregeen said that if a police officer is driving on Shore Road and observes a food delivery person parks his car in front of an apartment building, puts his flashers on and heads upstairs to deliver his food, “he’s not getting a ticket.”
About the police email from July 18, Cregeen said. “It probably shouldn’t have been put in writing.”
“It’s really just common sense,” he continued. “As everybody knows, there’s no parking in this town and if I stop Gino’s from getting a delivery for dough and sauce, then he’s out of business. The delivery man has to double park, they have to park in spots that they’re not supposed to, but if they’re actively engaged in business then we exercise discretion.”