Neighbors mull Goonies house parking options

Astoria Police Chief Geoff Spalding appeared at a town hall on issues related to the Goonies house.

Between creating a neighborhood watch association and suing Steven Spielberg, ideas about how to curb parking near the Goonies house ranged from serious to lighthearted Thursday.

Astoria officials hosted a discussion at Alderbrook Hall about the nagging issues for residents who live near the famous — or infamous — house in Uppertown. About 20 people attended what largely became an informal brainstorming session.

Astoria Public Works Director Jeff Harrington explained the city code and zoning laws that apply in the neighborhood. That spurred a conversation about the driveway leading up to the 38th Street home perched atop a hill.

While the shared dirt driveway is a public right of way, it is privately maintained. The public can legally go up that hill even though unofficial signs discourage it. Walkers sometimes trespass on nearby properties, and drivers damage the road, forcing property owners to constantly maintain it.

“They do whatever they want once they get up there,” said Catherine Fuller, who lives next to the house. “They are brazen.”

The driveway is a candidate to be vacated as a public right of way, Harrington said. If that happens, some suggested placing a gate or fence to prevent people from entering.

“If we did that, there wouldn’t be any reason to be up there at all, and all these problems would go away,” Fuller said.

But that would require each of the surrounding neighbors, who may prefer the driveway to access their property, to sign on.

Some of the discussion revolved around the effects of social media and the internet. Fans of “The Goonies,” the 1985 adventure from a story by Spielberg, are dedicated, passionate and often well-organized.

In addition to the rejuvenated popularity since 2015 due to the movie’s 30-year anniversary, people from across the country encourage others to visit the house, said Dan Rhoads, owner of several downtown food carts.

“They all Googled it,” Rhoads said. “They saw the movie 30 years ago that they haven’t seen since then, and they think they deserve a right to come into anybody’s neighborhood.”

From there, the group discussed several strategies to counteract the internet and social media comments.

“Social media seems to be one of the enemies here, and outsmarting social media — that’s, that’s not a bad idea,” Harrington said.

Neighbors also discussed some of the behavioral issues with some tourists. Rhoads said he’s been yelled at, flipped off and threatened with physical violence. Someone may have even formed a group to leave poor online reviews of his food carts.

Some visitors park in the middle of the street, the wrong way or in a restricted area. Others walk on private property to find the right angle for pictures.

Residents sometimes confront tourists and snap pictures of license plates.

“It’s funny how mad they get,” Rhoads said. “‘You have no right. It’s my privacy.’ You’re in my neighborhood.”

Some neighbors said the city should find ways to accommodate people who travel long distances to see the attraction, though most were not so keen.

Astoria Police Chief Geoff Spalding said at the beginning of the meeting that the discussion probably would not last long. He rethought that about halfway through.

“I lied when I said I thought this was going to be a quick meeting,” Spalding joked.

The police chief will present a proposal to the City Council later this month to increase parking fines in the area from $25 to $100, he said.

He added, though, that residents would be subject to the fines as well unless a permit system is implemented, which carries its own complications. He may organize another discussion after the City Council decides on the parking fines.

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