SUNSET PARK — An application by a van service owner to expand his business is heading Community Board Seven to expand its discussion of van services in general.
Jimmy Li, owner of Metro Community Alliance, is seeking a city permit that will enable his dollar vans to make additional stops adjacent to busy Eighth Avenue, according to Sam Sierra, chairman of Board Seven’s Transportation Committee.
“They’re seeking help,” Sierra told members at the Board Seven meeting on Feb. 15.
Sierra said vans are popular with many local residents who rely on the services because they’re quick and inexpensive.
They’re so cheap, in fact, that many New York residents call them dollar vans.
But there is a downside to allowing vans to make more stops.
“We know we lose parking spaces,” Sierra said.
The creation of a van stop is similar to the creation of a bus stop. The space becomes off-limits to a driver hunting for a parking spot.
The dollar vans are extremely popular on Eighth Avenue, a vibrant Asian-American community that serves as the border between Board Seven and its neighbor Board 12 in Borough Park.
Board Seven did not take action on Li’s application. Members said they believed the larger issue of van service in the community should be looked at first.
Members voted to approve a resolution to request that the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) conduct a study of the Sunset Park community and van services. The agency is currently studying transportation issues caused by buses in Chinatown in Manhattan.
Board member Randolph Peers said he believed that Board 12 should also request a DOT study of vans, since the two boards share Eighth Avenue.
“This issue is multi-faceted and it has a history,” Peers said. “Van companies compete for turf. They want prime stops,” he said.