Parking tickets hurt Castle Hill businesses

Elected officials from around the east Bronx and city converged on Castle Hill Avenue just south of Westchester Avenue on Thursday, July 2 to speak about over-ticketing of shoppers parking their cars. (L-r) Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, resident and merchant Bob Bieder, Councilwoman Annabel Palma, Councilman and public advocate candidate Bill de Blasio, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, and 80th Assembly Democratic district leader Kenny Agosto at the press conference. Photo by Victor Chu

A busy corner in Castle Hill has become a stomping ground for traffic agents, which many say are issuing tickets for trivial or non-existent infractions of the parking codes.

Two thousand, five hundred tickets were issued last year on a single block of Castle Hill Avenue near Westchester Avenue, making it one of heaviest hit streets in the Bronx.

Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, Councilwoman Annabel Palma, Councilman Jimmy Vacca, and public advocate candidate Bill de Blasio visited the block on Thursday, July 2 to call attention to what they said was unfair treatment of the city’s motorists and small businesses.

De Blasio said that he would put an ombudsman in the public advocate’s office that would be a watchdog specifically for the rights of motorists who are unfairly ticketed.

“As public advocate, I will audit the city’s entire system of issuing tickets,” de Blasio said. “Every time we prove there is an unlawful pattern we will take the matter to the police department and tell them they are going beyond the law.”

Benedetto, Vacca and Palma endorsed the de Blasio parking ombudsman plan during the press conference, and the Brooklyn councilman’s candidacy for public advocate.

“When it comes to the avalanche of tickets and the need to reform our entire ticketing strategy, Bill represents the voice that can help us rein in a policy that has more and more to do with the city filling its coffers and less and less to do with the safety of motorists and pedestrians,” Vacca stated.

Palma added: “The $115 traffic tickets that are being dished out across the city are not just inconvenient – they represent a huge financial hit for average New Yorkers. Bill is the kind of elected official who cares about our hardworking, working- class communities.”

Benedetto stated that he thinks de Blasio is both passionate and creative.

“Bill’s plan to use the public advocate’s office to take in complaints related to parking tickets and to hold the police department accountable for over-ticketing is a perfect example of why he’s the right choice for this position in this city at this time,” Benedetto said.

While remaining neutral in the public advocate’s race, one local businessman welcomed any intervention.

“I am a family business owner,” said Bob Bieder, a resident and local merchant. “The over-zealousness of these traffic agents has gotten to the point where customers come into our stores on a daily basis and say ‘I cannot shop here any more.’ The idea that traffic enforcement is about raising money has got to change.”

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