Residents of Ditmas Park West in Brooklyn are not happy about the omnipresence of Iowa license plates in their neighborhood.
Joel Siegel, president of the Ditmas Park West Neighborhood Association, doubts that there has been a sudden surge in visiting relatives from Iowa in the 13-square-block neighborhood. Instead, Siegel has pointed to a nearby rental car company that owns the vehicles.
Siegel told Metro that parking has become more difficult recently in the attractive neighborhood with Victorian houses and tree-lined streets.
"We enjoy the fact that we can park on the street," he said. "It shouldn't be a parking lot for some rental car business."
Siegel, a lawyer, sent a letter to several government agencies in Iowa and New York expressing his concern. The Iowa Department of Transportation is investigating the car rental business, according to the Eastern Iowa Gazette.
Major Paul Steier of the Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement in Iowa hinted to the Gazette that the situation may be more sinister than it seems.
“Human trafficking, drugs, you name it. It’s still an active investigation,” he told the Gazette. The NYPD would not confirm any investigation or illegal activity.
Resident Amy Hackett told Metro that she and her neighbors noticed the cars especially because of their out-of-place plates.
"You find the occasional out-of-state cars, but it's unusual to have cars from Iowa under any circumstances," she said. "When people shared notes we very soon found out that these cars were rental cars owned by this outfit that doesn't bother to pay for its own parking lot. It just uses public space to run its business.”
Hackett said at one point, she noticed as many as eight cars with Iowa plates on one block.
She also said that many of these cars do not fall in line with alternate side parking rules, making it even more difficult for residents to park. She said tickets will sit on the windshields untouched for as long as a week.
Siegel said Ditmas Park West is the closest neighborhood to the listed address of the car rental business, which may be why so many of the cars with Iowa license plates park in the neighborhood. According to Hackett, neighbors are eager to see what the Iowa Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement turns up on the cars.
“We’re very intrigued now that people are on the case,” she said. “One can only assume it’s to avoid paying insurance or something like that, but presumably the folks in Iowa are concerned that they may be up to something that’s even more problematic.”
An employee at 25dollarcarrental.com, one of the names of the car rental business, offered no comment.
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