It’s hard enough to find a parking space in Dyker Heights without having the deal with illegal curb cuts that eliminate precious spots and greedy business owners who leave their commercial vehicles parked on the streets overnight, frustrated residents told the local police commander at a meeting on June 12.
Parking and traffic issues dominated the discussion at the Dyker Heights Civic Association (DHCA) meeting where Capt. Robert Conwell, the commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, was met with numerous questions from audience members about the city’s slow response to quality-of-life concerns.
But there was a lingering question on exactly what police can do to solve certain parking problems and whether some issues could be better handled by the New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) or New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
The June 12 session, which took place at Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church Hall at 1072 80th St., served as Conwell’s official introduction to the civic association. Conwell, who grew up in neighboring Bensonhurst, took the helm of the 68th Precinct in March. The precinct covers Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge.
The parking space shortage has escalated in recent years in Dyker Heights, according to residents, who charged that a lack of enforcement is largely to blame.
Homeowners are required to apply for permits from DOB to install curb cuts, but many residents circumvent the rules and put in curb cuts illegally, local officials said. As a result, the illegal curb cuts eat up what would have been legal parking spaces.
Residents at the meeting also shared their suspicions about homeowners/business owners in the neighborhood who are operating commercial enterprises out of their homes and are flouting the law by parking their commercial vans on the streets.
It is illegal in New York City to park a commercial truck or van on the street overnight.
One woman told Conwell about a van she often sees parked on her block, 78th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, which has no seats and is always filled with construction equipment. “It’s obvious it’s being used for business. Can’t you give him a ticket?” she asked.
The problem with trying to enforce the ban on commercial parking is that many of the unscrupulous business owners don’t bother to put commercial license plates on their vehicles, local officials said.
The van on 78th Street is a case in point. The resident who brought it up at the civic association meeting noted that the van has residential plates, not commercial.
Conwell hinted that in such cases, cops’ hands are tied. It’s perfectly legal to park on the street if your vehicle has a residential license plate.
“If I run a check on the license plate and it comes up residential, I can’t issue a summons. It’s not a police matter, it’s DMV,” Conwell said.
Residents can report their suspicions to the DMV, he said. The DMV’s website is https://dmv.ny.gov/.
On illegal curb cuts, DHCA President Fran Vella-Marrone recommended that residents file complaints with DOB. Complaints can be filed online at https://on.nyc.gov/1akVIJG.
Residents at the meeting also talked to Conwell about traffic issues.
That didn’t surprise the captain. “I know that traffic is a major concern to Dyker Heights,” he said.
Motorists speeding along 10th Avenue and drivers running red lights on Fort Hamilton Parkway and 79th Street were chief among the concerns. Conwell said he would investigate.
Bob Cassara, a longtime Dyker Heights resident, told Conwell he is tired of seeing large trucks barreling up and down his Bay Ridge Parkway block. “We get trucks all the time. Bay Ridge Parkway is not a truck route,” he said.
Cassara requested that police hit the truckers with summonses. “You can have all the laws you want but if there’s no enforcement, it still goes on. People have been turning a blind eye to it,” he said.
“We do enforce truck routes,” Conwell told Cassara, adding that he would have the precinct’s cops be on the lookout for wayward truckers.