Archive for the tag ‘fines’

The following is a press release from the offices of City Councilman David Greenfield:

In response to rumors circulating the community, Councilman David G. Greenfield has confirmed with the MTA that buses serving the area have not been equipped with cameras to photograph vehicles illegally parked in bus stops and in bus lanes. Councilman Greenfield was prompted to look into the matter by an e-mail being forwarded around Midwood and Boro Park claiming that a motorist received such a ticket while parked in the B6 and B11 bus stop at Coney Island Avenue and Avenue K on Wednesday morning. In response, MTA officials have confirmed that this technology is in use in Manhattan, but has yet to be implemented in Brooklyn.

“This rumor really took on a life of its own, so I wanted to clear up any misunderstandings after hearing about it yesterday. This technology is not being used in Brooklyn. What’s more, drivers may not park in a bus stop but can legally pick up and drop off passengers even when there is a dedicated bus lane,” explained Councilman Greenfield.

Governor David Paterson signed legislation into law in 2010 allowing for camera use to issue tickets to drivers along Select Bus Service lanes in some areas of New York City. The cameras are mounted on the front of buses or on utility poles, and are currently only authorized along Select Bus Service routes. The technology is being used on 1st and 2nd Avenues and 34th Street in Manhattan, and is planned for future use in Brooklyn only at Nostrand Avenue and Rodgers Avenue. Construction on a dedicated bus lane in that area will not begin for at least 18 months, according to the MTA.

However, Greenfield is taking this opportunity to remind drivers that tickets can be issued anytime by traffic enforcement agents and police officers under Code 14 of the city’s parking rules and regulations, which prohibits standing or parking in some areas including bus stops and lanes. Drivers can stop their vehicle temporarily to pick up or drop off a passenger in “no standing” zones, but are not allowed to idle or park there.

Tickets for offenses detected by bus lane cameras can only be issued from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, with fines ranging from $115 to $150. The cameras allow the city to differentiate between cars parked or stopped illegally in a bus stop and those who are making a turn or dropping off a passenger, which is permitted.

“As always, I urge all drivers to follow the rules of the road. As the city rolls out new methods for catching drivers who block bus lanes, I will work with the DOT to make sure they are implemented fairly and actually improve safety and performance, and are not just another way for the city to make money,” concluded Greenfield.

Residents can contact Councilman Greenfield’s district office at (718) 853-2704 for help with any parking-related matters.

Cold Weather Heat RequirementsOctober 1 kicked off “heat season,” during which landlords are required to provide heat and hot water to tenants or face costly violations from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

The regulations require that landlords maintain a minimum indoor temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. when outdoor temperatures fall below 55 degrees. Between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., building owners must maintain an indoor temperature of 55 degrees when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees. Hot water is required to be maintained at 120 degrees year-round.

The season lasts until May 31, 2013.

During the 2011/2012 heat season, residents of Community Board 15, which includes all of Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach, as well as parts of Marine Park, Gravesend and Midwood, racked up 2,766 complaints, falling a good bit short of Brooklyn’s most frequent complainers – residents of Community Board 17 (East Flatbush, Remsen Village), who made 3,708 complaints. It does put us well ahead of our neighbors in Brighton Beach and Coney Island, though, where Community Board 13 tallied up just 1,540 complaints.

If residents think their landlord is failing to meet the requirements, they should first contact the building owner or superintendent. If heat isn’t restored, HPD says to call 311, who will follow up with the owner and the complainant. If problems continue, they’ll send an inspector, and possibly issue a violation for as much as $1000 per day, in addition to civil penalties. They may also sue the landlord, or bring city contractors to make repairs to the property and bill the property owner.

More information about penalties and fees can be found here.

In lieu of photos of the neighborhood’s loudest dogs, we bring you Biggie the Harlequin Great Dane, the neighborhood’s dreamiest dog. Photo courtesy of Albert Dashevky.

There is a dog that lives across the street from my apartment building. I can’t see this dog, and I have no idea what it looks like, and despite this, the dog and I have a very intimate relationship. Every time a truck rumbles by, or a police siren wails, or thunder crashes, this invisible dog barks incessantly for the next 45 minutes. In the back of mind I always wondered if this was the worst dog in existence, but now I know that he is not.

The honor for loudest dogs in the city belongs to two dogs living in Marine Park. The 9-year-old German Shepard Maxwell, and his next door neighbor Buddy, a five year old Beauceron, have racked up close to 20 complaints in recent years. The owners of the dogs have both received warning letters from the Department of Environmental Protection.

“I think its ridiculous,” barked Maxwell’s owner Joseph Butrico, to DNAInfo. “They have tickets for everything. They just make it up as they go along.”

“When someone invades their space, they are gonna bark,” said Buddy’s owner Ann Winters, equally strident in defense of her noisy pooch.

In case you are wondering if Maxwell and Buddy were both the source of each other’s maniacal barking, being that they share a fence, it couldn’t be further from the truth, according to Ann.

“[They] see each other through a part of the fence, and they kiss each other,” she said.

Obviously these two dogs have formed a mutual friendship based on driving their neighbors crazy.

Small businesses owners, despair!

Last week, we posted about Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s plans to sue Mayor Michael Bloomberg in order to force him to release information regarding fines distributed to small businesses. De Blasio claims that the city is doling out fines irresponsibly to fill city coffers, and the results are hurting neighborhood commerce.

Now, another local politician, Congressman Bob Turner, is calling out President Barack Obama, saying federal taxes and regulations are fueling local unemployment rates.

Turner held a “Stop the Tax Hike” event on Friday, teaming up with the Brighton Beach Business Improvement District and small business owners to speak about the economy and how tax increases affect their businesses and unemployment.

After speaking with several small business owners in the area, Turner claimed that, for the first time in almost three years, business owners say that taxes – as opposed to poor sales – is the most serious issue they are struggling with today.

But while de Blasio blames the city, and Turner blames the fed, Bensonhurst-Bay Ridge Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is blaming the state. In April, Malliotakis held an event with Bay Ridge business owners, telling them that, though there were some pro-business accomplishments in Albany this year, the state is still hurting local businesses with excessive regulations and paperwork, taxes hidden in utility bills, and fees devised to pay off the state’s debt.

So which is hurting small business owner the most? Federal government, state government, or city government? Or are small business woes simply the result of the sluggish economy?


Several local businesses routinely express frustration to Sheepshead Bites about the number of fines the city has doled out, whether it be for trash, health inspections or obscure signage regulations. And, according to the complaints we get, it seems inspectors of businesses are unfamiliar with many of the regulations and sometimes apply them inconsistently.

But though it may seem like the city is cracking down and issuing more fines as the city struggles with the economic recession, data on the number of fines given out has been hard to come by.

Public Advocate Bill de Blasio is trying to fix that. He has announced his plans to sue Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city agencies in order to force them to reveal information regarding the amount of fines given, and the income generated from those fines.

Currently, there are 20 agencies involved in small businesses-related regulations. According to an analysis performed by de Blasio’s office, cited by the New York Times, fines collected by these organizations have jumped from $485 million in the 2002 fiscal year, when Bloomberg was elected, to a whopping $820 million in this past fiscal year.

De Blasio told the paper that he has been pushing six of the offices involved in regulating small businesses to release information about these fines for several months now. He said that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Consumer Affairs told him they were in the process of compiling a response. The Transportation Department, Sanitation Department, Buildings Department and Finance Department failed to reply to his requests.

“We’re just not going to stand for it anymore,” de Blasio told the paper.

Marc LaVorgna, Bloomberg’s spokespman said the city will respond to de Blasio and provide this information soon. He argued that the main source of rise in fines over the past 10 years is driving tickets. The fines have increased for parking tickets and moving violations, while more tickets for running red lights have been distributed, as the city installed more cameras by traffic lights.

Source: MTA

The MTA is increasing efforts to catch fare beaters on city buses, which it estimates cost the city tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue.

Since 2008, the “Eagle Team” has patrolled the budding Select Bus Service fleet to fight fare cheaters, a new form of express bus service that has off-board fare collection, which critics say has spurred on fare beaters. Now, the team of approximately 60 ex-police officers and military veterans will double in size as they prepare to patrol regular city buses. The group members coordinate with police and have the power to issue $100 summonses.

Thomas Prendergast, the head of the MTA’s transit division, explained that the Eagle Team will cost $6 million to deploy, and they will be “chasing $50 million” in revenue lost to fare beaters.

In 2010 the MTA estimated it lost $14 million in would-be fare, but admit that the statistic is hard to track. Drivers are instructed to press a button when someone enters without paying.

The Eagle Team is deployed with a mission to balance customer service with enforcement, said Vincent DeMarino, the transit division’s vice president of security.

“Just the way the police, I’m sure, want people to always wonder is there a cop on every corner, we want them to wonder if one of us is on every bus,” said Vincent DeMarino, the transit division’s vice president of security.

Authorities conducting a field operation targeting ambulette service providers in Sheepshead Bay issued $7,600 in fines and seized two vans in just one day.

The Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG) and the Taxi and Limousine Commission teamed up to investigate potential fraudulent activities among ambulette services, stopping the vehicles on and around Coney Island Avenue and Coney Island Hospital on Tuesday, July 10.

According to OMIG, 15 investigators were deployed, yeilding:

  • Four unlicensed or unqualified drivers;
  • Two vehicles not licensed by TLC – both vans were seized;
  • Ten summonses issued for lack of paperwork or proper decals on display;
  • A total of $7,600 in fines based on the summonses.

Investigators also verified that all passengers involved were Medicaid recipients.

“Allowing untrained drivers to operate these vehicles in New York is an expensive roll of the dice,” said Medicaid Inspector General James Cox. “The millions of dollars spent on these services risk the lives of pedestrians, motorists and patients, all the while ripping off taxpayers. The streets of New York are safer today, thanks to this operation. “

The Sheepshead Bay field operation scored a bigger yield than the TLC-OMIG pilot program, which took place last month along Queens Boulevard. There they issued eight summonses and seized one van.

However, the Queens operation led to a valuable discovery that could save taxpayers money. Here’s how the TLC puts it:

Based on information provided by OMIG from the June 12 operation, TLC discovered that some ambulette companies may have used tactics that do not comply with New York State and New York City rules, including subcontracting vehicles and drivers. TLC investigators used that information during an independent transportation surveillance at a metropolitan hospital, leading to the seizure of six more ambulettes from a company that had committed a variety of infractions. OMIG and TLC will collaborate on further investigations of that company to determine if Medicaid had been overcharged for services based on evidence gathered from that operation. Further action will be taken as appropriate.

It seems the city is looking for money wherever they can get it, and that means that hair and nail salons and barbershops better watch out: authorities are fining establishments for common sense pricing practices prevalent throughout the neighborhood.

The city has issued fines ranging from $50 to $500 to at least 138 businesses so far this year – mostly salons and barbershops – for charging different prices to different genders. Business owners say the fines are ridiculous, and that the law ignores basic inherent differences between the sexes.

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A photo from the November 8 Brighton Beach building collapse.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration slapped SP&K Construction with more than $77,000 in fines for skirting regulations in building a Brighton Beach structure, which collapsed in November killing one and injuring four others.

The agency served the Midwood-based company with 11 safety violations yesterday, saying the company knowingly failed to ensure the building was stable before sending workers in to pour concrete.

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Sam Tsang, Meijiao Chi, Theresa Scavo

Source: World Journal

It’s hard enough trying to run a small retail business, but in Babel-like New York City, immigrant business owners face a whole other world of challenges.

Chinese newspaper World Journal has a report about Meijao Chi, owner of a fabric and toy store at 1231 Avenue U. Chi doesn’t speak much English, and when Department of Consumer Affairs inspectors came around, fines started piling up while Chi’s Chinese got tangled up with the city’s legalese.

“Towards the end of August 2011, an agent from New York City Department of Consumer Affairs issued two citations,” Meijao Chi said. “One citation was a $125 fine for unregistered merchandise, and another citation was for the toy guns.  The agent at that time did not say how much the total amount would be for the fines.  The next day, the second citation ticket was mailed to the store.”

Chi, who does not speak English, paid a $125 fine, thinking that doing so would take care of the two citations.  That only covered one citation, however, and the other citation remained unresolved.  Later on, she received a court appearance notice and disregarded it.  Two months later, she received a $5,000 fine.

Things didn’t end so badly for Chi. After reaching out to Sam Tsang, Community Board 15′s only Chinese member (and also an Asian community liaison to the 61st Precinct), Tsang worked as a middleman for Chi, the Community Board and the Department of Consumer Affairs. After explaining that the the language barrier caused confusion which led to Chi’s failure to appear in court, her fine was reduced to $900. Tsang is also going around reminding other business owners to speak up when they need help navigating the city’s complex web of regulations.

As a side note, Sheepshead Bites needs to give a well-deserved tip o’ the hat to CUNY’s Voices of New York project, which aggregates and translates ethnic media outlets. Without their dedication to helping ethnic media stories reach a larger audience, we never would’ve heard a word about this issue.

Other than the Asian-owned businesses on Avenue U, Sheepshead Bay has a dense population of Eastern European- and Turkish-owned businesses. What kind of unique challenges do they face?

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