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Show of Force: B’Heights a cash cow for traffic agents, city

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Illegal parkers in Brooklyn Heights mean big money for city coffers.

Through May 27, the 84th Precinct was credited with a whopping 20,210 summonses — a 6.2-percent increase from the same time last year.

Parking ticket fines range from $35 to $180 each.

“That’s life in the city,” Doug Biviano, a neighborhood resident for seven years, said as traffic enforcement officers fanned out across Montague Street the other day. “My car has been towed three times!”

There are many theories as to why 84th Precinct cops and traffic agents — who cover Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, DUMBO and Downtown — write so many parking tickets.

Some believe it’s all about the Benjamins.

“They know the people in this neighborhood will pay the tickets!” said one Brooklyn Heights man who requested anonymity for fear of getting a parking ticket. “No one in Brooklyn Heights says anything.”

Others blame the NYPD’s supposed “quota system,” which requires officers to write a certain number of tickets or be reprimanded.

“It runs in spurts because of the quota system,” said Fort Greene resident Neville Pinnock, who has worked in Brooklyn Heights for more than 40 years. “They become more diligent when they are trying to meet their quota.”

The NYPD denied that there is any pressure on officers to write tickets — except when they see a parking violation, of course.

“The NYPD has no quotas,” said Detective Brian Sessa, a police spokesman.

And there certainly are plenty of violations.

A 2006 study found that there are almost twice as many cars circling around Brooklyn Heights as there are spaces at any given time.

One reason for all the circling is the supposed abuse of government-issued parking permits, which allow the possessor to take spots that would otherwise be available to less-privileged members of the public. Another 2006 study found that three out of four government parking permits were used illegally.

“There is an enormous amount of traffic in this area and it is a result of both placard permit abuses and the number of commercial buildings,” said Sam Rockwell, spokesperson for Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights), who says residential parking permits could help locals get spots currently taken by not only the government permit-holders, but also commuters who drive to Downtown despite its many subway lines.

Yassky is not alone on the issue.

“For years, we’ve been on record for residential permit parking,” said Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “It would create a level playing field with residents and non-resident commuters.”

But no matter what the solution, Brooklyn Heights drivers are the ones paying the price of all the tickets being written — literally.

“The tickets hurt,” said a man who identified himself as “Mark from Key Food.” Parking woes extend to visitors, too.

“I come here often enough that I know the parking is still lousy,” said Jane Frank, a former Brooklyn Heights resident. “It’s like finding a needle in a haystack.”

How many tickets is 20,210?

The 84th Precinct has handed out more than 20,000 parking tickets so far this year. Here’s a few ways of putting that into perspective:

• It’s more than all of the tickets given out in Staten Island this year.

• If lined up end to end, they would stretch to almost two miles (1.9 miles)

• It’s 5,010 more tickets than were handed out in Lower Manhattan during the same period.

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