It may be illegal for non-affiliated car dealers to store and sell their vehicles on residential streets; nonetheless, southwest Brooklyn appears to be experiencing an uptick in such illicit commerce, angering residents and businesses as the lone wolf dealers take up limited parking spaces and hurt the bottom lines of nearby legal dealerships.
According to an anonymous source in the Bay Ridge area, the problem — known as “curbstoning” — has spread throughout several Brooklyn areas over the past two years.
“There are literally hundreds of cars being sold illegally, if not thousands. I’ve witnessed it myself,” the source said. “Basically it’s a whole organized entity. You have people watching the cars as they’re being sold.”
“We’ve heard about some [of the cars] and reported them to the precinct. These vehicles should be seized,” said Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Community Board 7, whose catchment area includes Sunset Park, one of the neighborhoods where the problem exists. “We have gotten complaints over the last three or four months. I would assume the problem has been going on longer.”
Although many of the car sales have been seen near the Eighth Avenue train station, Laufer added that the problem isn’t limited to Sunset. “I would say this is a citywide problem, not just a Sunset one,” he told this paper.
John Quaglione, spokesperson for State Senator Marty Golden, told the paper that the issue exists in several areas, including Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
“We’ve received complaints of cars for sale being parked on streets and even at meters. We have reported it to the Department of Consumer Affairs and the NYPD for investigation,” he said. “You have a neighborhood of so many upstanding dealerships and a car industry here in Bay Ridge that employs so many people, it’s a serious problem if on streets, there are parking spaces being used illegally for the purpose of having a car showroom. It’s something that threatens tax revenue and job creation.”
“As far as the rules go, cars are not permitted to be stored on street for sale,” added Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10, who, while noting that the board hasn’t recently received complaints, acknowledged the problem.
“There were some a few months ago where illegal dealers stored cars under the overpass on Bay Ridge Parkway. At the time, we referred the cars to the precinct. The police reached out to the number on the sign and it ended,” she said.
AAA New York’s Manager of Media Relations Robert Sinclair Jr. said one of the main concerns is the condition of vehicles being sold to customers.
“You don’t know what condition the car will be in,” he told this paper. “After Superstorm Sandy, lots of vehicles were damaged and flooded. People would buy them, fix them up and sell them. Lots of problems come up with that.”
Other issues were also mentioned by Sinclair. “There are also risks of being scammed, getting a vehicle that’s not as good as it should be,” he said. “Taking up parking spots in these busy areas also continues to be a problem.”
“If you have a strictly street-based business, you worry about the consumer buying the car,” Quaglione agreed. “How do you find the dealer again if you have problem? It’s easy to change a phone number or email. Three days later, if the car breaks down on the highway, it’s a harder situation to get your money back.”