For nearly a dozen Williamsburg business owners this week, cash machines stopped dispensing money and started swiping it.
On Wednesday morning, store owners on Bedford Avenue between N. Fifth and N. Eighth streets were stunned to receive $100 tickets from the Department of Sanitation because their sidewalk ATMs were allegedly more than three feet from the building.
“I’ve had these ATMs for six years,” said Mike Kurani, manager of Bedford Magazine and Smoke. “The city never bothered me about them before.”
He and others disputed the Sanitation inspector’s measurements, saying that the ATMs were within the three-foot limit and were not blocking the sidewalk.
“How can they say it was three feet if it wasn’t?” asked Samir Youssef, who owns 13 cash machines outside stores between N. Fourth and N. Eighth streets — nine of which received tickets. “They came for the tickets, not the law.”
Youssef plans to fight the charges, though he added that he and the store owners, who get a percentage of the ATM fees, will likely split the fine if the fight is unsuccessful.
Not everyone will fight the tickets, which require a hearing before the city-run Environmental Control Board, not an independent judge.
“If we have to go to board, we lose a day of work,” said Charlie Bournis, who owns Office 11211 between N. Sixth and N. Seventh streets. “If you have a small business, it’s impossible to leave it unattended to go to court all day.
“The city,” he added, “should stop using us as their ATM machines.”