No Parking!

Owners of Hero Beach have marked these parking spaces on South Eton Street as private property, threatening to tow any cars parked there without authorization. The land actually belongs to the Town of East Hampton.

It takes a special breed to open a business on the East End. Property is prohibitively expensive, and rents may even be more so. Competition is fierce, with entrepreneurs jostling for the opportunity to cash in on the lucrative “Hamptons market,” despite a notoriously short season.

That said, it takes more than a little chutzpah to try to pull off what the owners of Hero Beach Resort, at the site of the former Oceanside Resort in Montauk, are doing.

The business has been before the East Hampton Town Planning Board over the past year, trying to legalize a restaurant and bar it opened without site-plan approval. We’ve all seen that trick before: Open for business and then throw yourself at the mercy of whatever regulatory board is reviewing your application.

But what we haven’t seen is the blatant effort of Hero Beach Resort to annex public property to help it meet its own parking requirements. At a recent meeting before the planning board, Hero Beach’s representatives proposed using more than 25 spaces that are entirely, or partially, on public property to count as their own.

That in itself is not unusual. After all, businesses seek parking waivers all the time. What is unusual, though, is that the business has erected signs next to some of the spaces that say “Private Parking, Violators Towed At Vehicle Owner’s Expense.”

Members of the planning board were none too pleased by Hero Beach’s claiming public property for its own parking needs, but despite their objections, more than a week later the signs remain in place.

Is it too much to assume that planners would have alerted code enforcement officers to this situation? Don’t you think the town’s attorney’s office or the town police might find it within their jurisdiction to drop a line, or make a phone call, telling Hero Beach to take down the signs that will obviously scare away members of the public who are entitled to park there?

At the height of the summer season, parking in downtown Montauk can be hard to come by, and it has to be disheartening for other businesses that play by the rules to see them flouted so easily.

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