City Council mulls curb cut crackdown
The Great Curb Cut Clash has begun.
In response to complaints from residents about illegal curb cuts unfairly taking away parking spaces, the City Council is considering two bills that seek to crack down on the pesky practice.
One bill, sponsored by Councilmember Kalman Yeger (D-Borough Park-Midwood) and co-sponsored by Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights), would allow the Department of Transportation (DOT) to restore a curb and send the homeowner the bill. Councilmember Robert Holden (D-Middle Village) is sponsoring another bill that would prohibit police from issuing parking tickets to drivers parked at curb cuts unless the cop can establish that the curb cut is legitimate.
In Dyker Heights, where illegal curb cuts are an increasing problem, the two bills are generating a lot of support.
“It’s an issue that needs to be addressed and I’m happy that the council is coming up with ideas,” said Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Association. “Curb cuts are unfair to the community.”
The issue of illegal curb cuts was a main topic of discussion at a recent civic association meeting as residents complained that the scarcity of parking spaces is compounded by curb cuts that shouldn’t be there in the first place.
Illegal curb cuts are created by homeowners who literally cut the curbs outside their houses to create driveways.
Homeowners are required to apply for permits from the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB) in order to legally install curb cuts. But local officials said many residents brazenly circumvent the rules, hire contractors and put in curb cuts illegally.
In 2015, Brooklyn had the highest number of curb cut complaints, 822, called into the city’s 311 system, according to an article published by dnainfo.com. Ten percent of those complaints came from residents in Bath Beach and Bensonhurst.
Holden’s bill is aimed at giving drivers a break if they park at illegal curb cuts, according to his legislative director, Daniel Kurzyna.
The bill would put the onus on police to ensure that a curb cut is legitimate before issuing a summons.
Under the legislation, a cop would have to check with DOB whether there is a legal curb cut listed for a particular address. If the curb cut is not listed, it will be considered to be illegal and the cop will be prohibited from issuing the summons.
The bill could have far-reaching implications in the curb cut wars, Kurzyna said. “If people feel more emboldened to confront these homeowners who alter their curbs illegally by parking in these spots, and not getting into trouble for it, it’ll put an end to the practice of illegal curb cuts,” he said.
The bill being pushed by Yeger and Brannan would set up a system similar to the way the city handles broken sidewalks.
Homeowners are required to repair the sidewalks in front of their houses. If they don’t, DOT fixes the sidewalk and bills the homeowner.
The legislation would give homeowners 30 days to restore the curb. If they fail to act, DOT would restore the curb and present the homeowner with the bill.
CORRECTION: Original version of article mistakenly identified Councilmember Robert Holden as a Republican.
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