By Leslie Albrecht
UPPER WEST SIDE — Free parking on Sundays is supposed to give church-goers a break, but some say the practice hurts businesses.
Community Board 7 is scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to scrap the free parking, which New Yorkers have enjoyed since 2005 when the City Council voted to make street meters free on Sundays.
The 2005 vote was based in part on the idea that it's unfair to make church-goers who drive to Sunday services "pay to pray."
But Community Board 7 member Marc Glazer, who's led the charge to do away with free Sunday parking, says the practice forces businesses to pay a price.
Glazer says the free spots encourage cars to linger for hours, which means potential customers can't park in front of stores and restaurants.
He argues that most people walk, not drive, to church services.
Glazer took photos of parked cars at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. At 2 p.m., 75 percent of the cars hadn't moved, by 6 p.m., half were still there. Glazer says cars spend an average of four to six hours in metered spots on Sundays and 90 minutes at such spots on week days.
"These cars are there for six or eight hours," Glazer told Community Board 7's transportation committee in July. "Unless these people are going to an all-day Baptist tent revival, they're not in church."
Merchants along Columbus Avenue have complained that free Sunday parking has "killed" their businesses, because they rely on customers who drive in from outside the neighborhood, said Barbara Adler, executive director of the Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District, in July.
But even if they're not in church, some New Yorkers see free Sunday parking as sacred. Several interviewed by DNAinfo in July complained that drivers deserve a break on Sundays.
"God rested on Sundays, why can't we?" said Frank Lema, 27, an electrician from Valley Stream who regularly drives a van into the city.
Community Board 7 meets Tuesday at 6:30 p..m. at Fordham University, 113 West 60th Street at Columbus Avenue. To view the full board agenda, check the Community Board 7 website.