The city has been ticketing some Dyker Heights merchants fordisplaying curbside banners, and the community isn’t happy aboutit.
Polstein’s Hardware, at 76th Street and 13th Avenue, got itsticket from a Department of Sanitation (DOS) enforcement officer onOctober 13, ostensibly for causing a sidewalk obstruction with itstwo holiday flags – one with a Halloween image and one with awinter theme, with the agent who wrote the violation asserting, Idid observe two tall banners advertising business on the curbobstructing the pedestrian pathway.
However, the banners for which Polstein’s were ticketed (notincluding an American flag, for which the store did not receive aviolation) were flying from poles inserted in holes drilled near acurbside bench – making it unlikely that pedestrians would beimpeded by them as they traversed the more-than-usually-widesidewalk.
Also along the curb in a line with the places where the bannersonce flew are parking meters, bus stop signs and Department ofTransportation signs.
The guy was adamant, noted Eddie Cohen, Polstein’s owner. Hesaid, you are advertising your store, and blocking thesidewalk.
You can’t run a business today if there are so many rules andregulations, Cohen added, noting that he has use the banners formore than three decades. New York City is telling smallmom-and-pop stores, please leave the city. I feel they areharassing business owners trying to make a living.
Cohen said he had paid the ticket, and taken the banners down,though the U.S. flag still flies at curbside in front of his store.I don’t want another ticket, he explained. He said it would cost$300.
The neighborhood is firmly behind Cohen. I walk there all thetime, said Fran Vella-Marrone, the president of the Dyker HeightsCivic Association. There is plenty of room.
Tickets such as the one received by Polstein’s, Vella-Marronesaid, can break the backs of small businesses. That’s the lastthing we should do. They are the backbone of the community. If theygo, we go.
Enforcement agents have to show more discretion, contendedCity Councilmember Vincent Gentile. if this is asmall-business-friendly city, in this bad economy, you don’t givethem $100 fines when they are not obstructing the citysidewalks.
Anthony de Crescenzo, the president of the 13th Avenue MerchantsAssociation, concurred. it’s anti-small business, he opined. Itdoesn’t make sense to me, and it doesn’t make sense to the businessowners. It’s like getting a slap in the face.
But, said DOS, the enforcement agent was only doing his job.This is not a ticket blitz, contended Kathy Dawkins, a DOSspokesperson. It is considered sidewalk obstruction to haveadvertising banners or flags, other than the United States flag, onthe sidewalk. Sidewalk areas must be kept free from any obstructionthat could impede pedestrian traffic. Should merchants or residentsfeel they have been given a summons erroneously, they can appearbefore the Environmental Control Board to plead their case and havethe ticket adjudicated.
Besides Polstein’s, MDM Pawn Brokers on 78th Street near 13thAvenue, also received a violation for a curbside banner, accordingto Gentile’s office.