BWECC Petition Demands Traffic Agents Warn Motorists

By Charles Hack

Double parking enforcement under the Bloomberg administration is going to put Bensonhurst’s senior residents in the poor house, local residents are saying. The Bensonhurst West End Community Council has launched a petition to change the enforcement on regulations, and peppered Councilmember Domenic Recchia, Jr. with questions at the Bensonhurst West End Community Council meeting held Jan. 23 at I.S. 96 at 99 Ave. P. The petition wants traffic enforcement agents and police officers “to warn double-parked motorists to move first, before issuing a violation.” NYPD Traffic Control Division cops have been dishing out tickets to residents, who have for example double-parked while a passenger runs into a drug store to pick up a prescription, residents say. “We are in a senior citizens’ neighborhood,” said 21st Ave. resident Vincent A. Badlamenti. “These people are afraid to walk the street.” Recchia said that traffic enforcers should be more tolerant. “I don’t see any problem with going up to a car and saying, ‘will you please move,’” said Recchia, “We have been building up a good relationship with the cops, but traffic enforcement are destroying it.” However, he said that he had spoken to the traffic enforcement division, who said that the public is often abusive to traffic enforcement agents, “yelling” and “screaming.” Mark Treyger, a spokesperson from Assemblymember William Colton’s office, pointed out that he was aware of an incident where someone put a quarter in a parking meter outside the politician’s office, and a few minutes later the person received a ticket. A staff member tested the meter and found it to be faulty, expiring just minutes after the coin had been inserted. Treyger said that in this instance, there was no public forum to hold the traffic cops accountable. Recchia pointed out that unlike the NYPD precinct officers, who maintain a dialogue with the public through community affairs officers and precinct community councils, there is no such public accountability for traffic enforcement in most neighborhoods. “We should have a community officer who is in charge,” Recchia said, pointing out that this policy had improved the relationships between the police and the public. Carmine Santa Maria, president of BWECC, said that he thought Bloomberg’s policy of zero tolerance was more to do with filling city coffers and showing that he was responsible for pulling the city out of the red, rather than with public safety. “It’s on our backs,” he said. But Recchia also pointed out that “there are some areas where double-parking is a problem,” such as near schools and busy narrow streets where regulations should be strictly enforced. Recchia has released an informational leaflet entitled “How you can get a reduced fee on parking tickets.” According to the leaflet, drivers who plead guilty and pay the bill on the first notice in person may be eligible for a ticket reduction of up to $25. This applies to alternate side parking, double parking and parking on an expired meter. It does not apply to parking in a handicapped spot, parking at a fire hydrant or parking in a crosswalk. Recchia also attempted to dispel beliefs that some neighborhoods are ticketed more than others. “People think there is preferential treatment but I disagree with that,” said Recchia. “It’s evenly distributed all over.” Santa Maria said that residents are not after a free lunch, where a single ticket could cost three meals, but wanted traffic cops to be more sensitive to the needs of the public. “If you double park and leave your car, you deserve a ticket,” Santa Maria said. “But if you are in the car, there is no excuse.” Neither the Mayor’s Office nor the NYPD Deputy Commissioner for Public Information commented in time for publication. Badlamenti. also complained that senior citizens are suffering because the Sanitation Department is ticketing residents for not sweeping the sidewalks. Recchia said that responsibility for sweeping sidewalks had been transferred from sanitation to the individual citizens. He also said that Bloomberg had been increasing the number of Business Improvement Districts around the city, which are providing street cleaning services to retail strips — while letting the city off the hook. Fees levied on property owners pay for the services. “I happen to be not in favor of them,” said Recchia. “That is a job of the government.”

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