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May 22, 2017 / Brooklyn news / Cobble Hill / Brooklyn Is Angry

Cobble Hill Association: Contractor who put up phony LICH parking signs should get more than a slap on the wrist

Unauthorized: Phony no-parking signs stick out of the construction shed on Henry Street.
Brooklyn Paper
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The city must create harsher penalties for contractors who illegally put up unauthorized Department of Transportation signs reserving street space around construction sites, the leader of a Cobble Hill civic group demanded this week.

Members of that group have been battling for weeks with the builders of controversial luxury apartment at the site of Long Island College Hospital who they say are scarfing up spots they have no right to with signs given to them by the city for previous jobs while car-owning residents up getting tickets for parking in spaces that were rightfully theirs.

“It seems like there’s a process there by which parking spaces can be taken illegally by construction companies and unknowing and law-abiding parkers are getting tickets and really have no recourse,” said Amy Breedlove, who is the president of the Cobble Hill Association.

Since Builder Scala Contracting Company — the contractor hired by the project’s developer Fortis Property Group — put up two “No parking anytime” and “No standing” signs on Henry Street between Pacific and Amity streets earlier this year, approximately 80 people received $115 tickets — $9,200 in penalties — for parking in two spaces the signs affected.

The Department of Transportation inspected the signs in March and slapped the contractor with violation that came with two $150 fines — one issued when the illegal signs were first discovered and the other a week later when they weren’t taken down, said an agency spokeswoman.

The signs were then dismounted, but people who have already paid their tickets have no way to get their money back, according to Breedlove.

“I asked ‘What about the people who have already paid their tickets’ and we were told “There’s nothing really you can do about it,’ ” she said.

And those who haven’t paid up have to go to traffic court and provide evidence to get their case dismissed, something that isn’t even guaranteed and depends on the judge said Breedlove.

A coalition of local pols including state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D–Cobble Hill), Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (D-Cobble Hill), Comptroller Scott Stringer, and Councilman Brad Lander (D-Carroll Gardens) sent a letter to the departments of transportation and finance — the agency in charge of parking tickets — on May 8 demanding they rescind the fines and refund those who have paid.

The city has not responded, according to a rep from Squadron’s office.

A Fortis spokeswoman told the Brooklyn Eagle in April it would “of course” reimburse anyone who received a ticket if the signs were deemed unauthorized in April, but a rep refused to say whether it would follow through on its promise when contacted for this article.

Instead, a spokeswoman disputed the legitimacy of the complaints, referring to the signs — which she claimed Fortis knew nothing about — as “allegedly non-permitted” and argued coverage of the issue had been exaggerated.

“The reporting on this matter is inaccurate and has been blown out of proportion,” said rep Lauren Hovey.

But the city has already spoken by issuing the notice of violations, and its denial of the signs is just making residents suspicious of other issues the developer might lie about throughout its construction of several towers, said Breedlove.

“They’ve been found guilty by DOT so I’m trying to understand why they’re not taking responsibility for what was done and that then draws a question as to what else are they not taking responsibility for?” she said.

Contractors buy the “no parking” signs from the Department of Transportation, which then issues a permit to the builders to put them up. Scala received authorization for the placards on two other streets. But contractors don’t have to return the signs when they complete construction, said a transportation department spokeswoman and could theoretically put them up around the city until they get caught, worries Breedlove.

“Does that mean there’s a lot of signs out there than can be erected anywhere if they choose to do that?” she said. “The only way there’s recourse is having the Cobble Hill Association receive all the complaints from neighbors.”

The association head honcho said she’s waiting to hear what the city has to say to the politicians’ letter before making her next move.

Scala did not return a request for comment.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill
Updated 1:29 pm, May 22, 2017
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Reasonable discourse

Charles from Bklyn says:
Spanking aside, the contractor should receive the maximum fine imposed, if willful. Further, people should call 311 if they see other reasons of concern. The bar should be low; but this issue should also be separated from the issues surrounding LICH's shutdown and selloff, which were politically disgracefuly and corrupt to the core.
May 22, 2017, 11:53 am
Ken from Greenpoint says:
its not a perfect world i believe give him another chance.....
May 22, 2017, 2:20 pm
Rebel from Brooklyn says:
Neighbors in Cobble Hill don't have any implements of destruction? That's gentrifiers for you.

I have a whole collection of NO PARKING signs in my cellar.

When such signs(legal or illegal) but with no reason for being there in the first place are gone the next morning they're never replaced. If they are repeat prior procedure until lesson is learned.

The 'legal' signs I have removed were left long after their purpose for being there had left. DOT is fast at putting them up but very slow removing them. So I help them and the community.
May 22, 2017, 4:47 pm
Jim from Brooklyn says:
i hope you sell them on Ebay.
May 22, 2017, 4:53 pm
Sam from Park Slope says:
It is Bill de Blasio's city. The man loves developers. Anything he can do to make their lives easier, this Mayor is glad to do. They give him money, he gives them breaks. The DOT is very developer friendly, too. They were thrilled to donate Atlantic and Flatbush to Bruce Ratner. Only four or five people have been killed at that intersection since Barclay's.
May 22, 2017, 7:16 pm
solutions & retribution from Brooklyn says:
Yes, I believe public slapping may help, but what we really need are effective solutions and public retribution as follows:
- signs should have start and stop dates. This way the city can make more money off contractors when they need to renew, as well as folks knowing when they expire so they can park there in the event they aren't removed promptly.
- signs should have a permit number clearly displayed so that people could look them up on the NYC website and verify if they are legitimate and are in the correct place.
- signs should have a $100.00 deposit fee each. This will help to ensure recycling of expired signs.
- contractors violating the law should have to pay $1000.00 per sign plus pay a fine 10 times the amount of the violations issued to motorists, and the motorists should get 5 times the violation back as consideration for their pain & suffering and obstruction of the publics right-of-way.

Power to the people!
May 22, 2017, 8:09 pm
Misty Waters from Brooklyn Heights says:
Just let him go - why are all you sadists getting off to the idea of him being punished? What joy does that bring you? Is it because hurting people gets you off? Yes.
May 23, 2017, 3:02 am
Ellin from Brooklyn Heights says:
Perhaps people are simply looking for any way to express their frustration and anger at having this development (which I now call Oz) go forward at this scale. It should have its own zip code.
May 23, 2017, 10:14 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
They should either be arrested or pay a heavy fine for doing this, because only the DOT is allowed to place up such signs, not them.
May 23, 2017, 3:42 pm
Matt from Greenpoint says:
There should be no parking in the first place. It should be a bike lane, or at least a place to push snow out of the a bike lane.
May 23, 2017, 5:11 pm
Mike from Brooklyn Heights says:
This article talked about all the people that got ticketed. What about all the people that got towed because of the sign. All these people need to be reimbursed.

All that being said, there are now a few "forever" spots that have been created because of the placement of some of these legal and illegal signs. If you can find them, you never have to move your car.
May 23, 2017, 8:15 pm
Phillip G. from Cobble Hill says:
Really? This is important? The creepy people that now run this (once great now creepy like themselves) community association have far more things to worry about than parking signs. They have totally and completely screwed their neighbors by their failure to negotiate better terms with the developer. High-rises in the backyards of historic brownstones, open parking lots for private use only, no say in what the new skyscrapers will even look like, no affordable housing, no school, no nothin good - but all they can do is carp about fake parking signs? That is insane. I say, park your creepy, inconsequential and totally irrelevant gripes elsewhere and do your JOB protecting the neighborhood from inappropriate development!!!
May 23, 2017, 10:24 pm
Stuart from Cobble Hill says:
The Brooklyn DOT is remarkably incompetent. Commissioner Bray is a lazy, lying s.o.b. What he cares about is keeping his job which he will because he got it for being weak. Phony traffic signs don't conern him any more than ticket stings.
May 24, 2017, 1:33 am
Deirdre from Cobble Hill says:
May be true about DOT but the Cobble Hill Association people are absolutely and thoroughly incompetent. I agree with Phillip. These people have much bigger fish to fry than parking signs. Are they so self absorbed over their cars that they don't realize they have destroyed the neighborhood by not negotiating with the developers for a better outcome????? It is incredible the stupidity. Brad Lander is
in that camp - incompetent and downright evil.
May 25, 2017, 12:44 am

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