Curb enthusiasm: Pol hopes bill will fix illegal driveways

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Local pols are pushing for a bill they say will reclaim on-street parking spaces from greedy property owners who illegally cut curbs in front of their homes to create unauthorized driveways.

The legislation, introduced last month by Councilman Kalman Yeger (D–Bensonhurst) and co-sponsored by Councilman Justin Brannan (D–Bay Ridge), would require property owners to correct curb cuts created without a permit within 30 days. If the curb isn’t fixed, the Department of Transportation must do the work within six months, at the property owner’s expense, similar to a law that requires property owners to maintain sidewalk defects.

“What we’re saying is that if you do not fix the curb, the city will fix it and bill you,” Yeger said. “It requires the government to help the people out a bit.”

The bill is a response to property owners who illegally cut curbs to install driveways in front of their homes, removing on-street parking for fellow drivers. Illegal curb cutting has become rampant throughout Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, and Bay Ridge recently, leading fed-up neighbors to complain that current laws aren’t doing enough to address the problem.

The Department of Buildings can issue violations to property owners who cut curbs without a permit, but there isn’t a law on the books that requires owners to restore the curbs. Yeger’s bill would change that, giving the city the power it needs to fight back where it currently has little, according to Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11.

“There will be more teeth in the law,” she said. “There’s [currently] no way to enforce the restoration of the curbs.”

And the proposed law wouldn’t only force property owners to restore illegally cut curbs, but it would also notify community boards of any legitimate curb-cut applications within their district. The boards would then be allowed to submit comments and recommendations to the Department of Transportation regarding each application.

Lawmakers have tried to push for stricter curb cut regulations in the past without success. But that hasn’t stopped Yeger from introducing his legislation and even co-sponsoring another recently proposed bill introduced by Councilman Robert Holden (D–Queens), which would require police officers to confirm the legality of a curb cut before issuing violations for vehicles parked there.

Yeger said he’s confident these bills will find support because they combat an issue that affects all New Yorkers.

“There’s this epidemic of illegal driveways,” he said. “Most who drive cars are facing the same conundrum. I think the vast majority will say this is a good idea.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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