Brooklyn residents say pricey tickets for dirty sidewalks are skyrocketing

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BORO PARK, Brooklyn — The residents of Boro Park, Brooklyn, say they are being targeted by the New York City Sanitation Department, receiving more summonses for dirty sidewalks than ever before.

The law requires homeowners to clean not only the sidewalk in front of their house, but also 18 inches into the curb. Every day 77-year-old Camilla Fleece sweeps the sidewalk, but has already received three summonses this year from sanitation enforcement agents who claim they found debris on her sidewalk and curb. The tickets carry a maximum penalty of $300.

Fleece said she suffers from severe arthritis and can’t go to court to fight the tickets. Instead, she pleads innocent by mail, and often loses the case.

And she is not the only resident complaining of unjustified summonses.

“I have tickets coming out of my ears," Fleece's neighbor Fray Salinas said.

He received two tickets on the same day -- July 27, 2016 -- in the same hour: one at 8:11 a.m. and the other at 8:48 a.m.

His daughter Donna said when she told the supervisor “the only thing he said to me is fight it. That’s all he said."

When PIX11 News contacted the Sanitation Department about the two tickets, a spokesperson said “if the two summonses were issued for the same violation within the hour, we would likely withdraw one of them. We are currently reviewing the details of this situation.”

Some of the residents blame the supermarket on the corner for their increasing problems with the Sanitation Department.

Neighbors say ever since the kosher market, Gourmet Glatt, opened on the corner a couple years ago, the number of tickets being written has gone up.

Fleece, who lives a few doors down from the market, said “their employees come out here and smoke and eat and throw the trash all over the place."

Salinas said the wind blows the litter from the market down the block and onto the residents’ property.

When PIX11 News asked the manager of Gourmet Glatt about the litter problem, he said he was too busy to speak with us. But we saw a lot of paper, plastic and cardboard on the sidewalk around the market and down the block. And while we were there, the manager had a couple workers grab a broom and sweep the sidewalk. One of them told me it’s tough to keep the area clean.

When neighbors complain they’re being ticketed because the litter from the supermarket blows onto their property, they receive the same answer PIX11 received from the Sanitation Department spokesperson: "It is the property owner’s responsibility to rectify the condition on their property."

Another resident speculated about a ticket quota the agents need to fill. A recent New York Post article found the Sanitation Department wrote more than 40,000 tickets in April, a three-year record.

The department said “there are no quotas. If we see violations, we cite them.”

The bottom line is: the street and sidewalk are dirtier than ever and the residents are paying the price. What a shame!

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