Demanding Answers: Dozens Of Abandoned Taxis A 'Pox' On Queens Neighborhood, Councilman Says
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Residents in Queens are furious, claiming they're unable to get the city to remove dozens of taxis parked illegally in their Jackson Heights neighborhood.
It turns out, some of the cab owners have political ties.
If you're looking for a taxi ride in New York City, you may have to look elsewhere. There are a whole lot of taxis, but none of them parked at the block-long abandoned gas station have license plates or even medallions.
It's become a makeshift taxi graveyard, and frustrated people who live and work in the area have been unable to get the city to do anything.
"It's terrible, it's an eyesore," said Jackson Heights resident Kirk Merrick. "They got to clean it up."
"It brings rodents and other things, rubbish, people coming around want to hang out," neighbor Rhys Springer said.
CBS2's crew counted about 60 taxis parked haphazardly, with some of the bumpers on the sidewalk amid bags of garbage.
"It's clutter, makes the city look worse," said Jackson Heights resident Deborah Lentz.
Political Reporter Marcia Kramer demanded answers from a number of city agencies. Officials claim many of the taxis were owned by Gene Friedman, a controversial Russian-American businessman once dubbed the "Taxi King."
In his heyday, Friedman was a major donor to Mayor de Blasio who raised more than $70,000 for hizzoner. He partnered with President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who city officials believe may now own some of the abandoned vehicles.
"This is a pox on the community that this has even been allowed to happen," said Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-25th).
Dromm says he's been trying to get the city to remove the taxis for months, taking his constituents' complaints to the Taxi and Limousine Commission, Consumer Affairs, and the Department of Buildings.
In response, the DOB fined the property owners $5,280. A spokesman for the agency says the issue is now in court, with a hearing scheduled for December. For Dromm, that just won't cut it.
"Unbelievable that it's going to be here for another three months, we're fighting them, we're pushing them on this," he said. "You cannot turn a gas station into a used taxi cab lot."
The councilman says he hopes exposure on television will push the city to act faster.
Zinc Realty, which owns the gas station where the taxis are parked, is apparently in bankruptcy. Records indicate the company was owned by none other than Gene Friedman, who did not return calls and texts from CBS2 seeking comment.
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