Dyker Heights residents angry over predatory ticketing

When Charles Barra of Dyker Heights helped his mother Maria Barra outside to move her double-parked car on Wednesday, May 18, just as alternate side parking finished, they were shocked to find an orange ticket poking out from under one of the windshield wipers.

Barra had been given a ticket only two minutes after alternate side parking ended, and the traffic enforcement agent had been waiting nearby to write the ticket.

Maria, they believe, had become a victim of predatory ticketing.

“It’s not fair. They must have waited and raced down the block to give me that ticket,” she said.

While double-parking is not legal, in many Brooklyn neighborhoods, it has become the norm during alternate side hours, and traffic agents generally avoid ticketing cars that have been moved to allow the street sweeper to do its job, often giving their owners a grace period to repark their cars legally.

Not this time.

Maria, who is recovering from recent back surgery, has lived in Dyker Heights since 1966. While she has received tickets before for double-parking after alternate side hours have ended, she has never received a ticket this quickly before. On Wednesdays and Fridays, alternate side parking ends on her block at 1 p.m. The time stamp on the ticket reads 1:02 p.m.

The Barras believe that the agent was watching the block.

“We’re not in the first set of blocks in the neighborhood assigned to the same time period. How could they have written the ticket that quickly?” asked Charles.

While the Barras contested the ticket, they still had to pay the $115 fine. According to a statement from Councilmember Vincent Gentile, had Maria parked on the alternate side rather than double parking, she would have been given a five-minute grace period.

“Based on the time the ticket was issued in correspondence with the alternate side expiration for that street, one can assume that the traffic agent in this case was waiting to pounce on Mrs. Barra,” said Gentile. “We have seen predatory ticketing occur on holidays when alternate side parking is suspended but meters are in effect and most recently with wrongly issued T-intersection/pedestrian ramp tickets.”

Even though his mother had to pay the ticket, Charles hopes that the city becomes more aware of the impacts of such ticketing on city residents.

“This is not about traffic enforcement. We the people have become the prey, and our city, our government, is our predator,” he said.

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