Howard Stokar stood outside his home on West End Avenue, between West 102nd and 103rd streets, eyeing a prime parking spot. Spaces like this don’t come along every day, and rarely do they appear when he needs to unload groceries from his car or get picked up by a friend. Which is why, he explained, he often double parks for a few minutes. Unfortunately for him, in those moments he is likely to get a $115 ticket.
“Twice I have been ticketed for taking groceries out of my own car with someone in the driver seat,” he said. “The second time I only found out about it from the mail. It wasn’t even handed to me.”
Stokar knows it’s illegal to double park, even for a few minutes, but what he doesn’t understand is what happened to the courtesy minute or warning that seemed to be the custom during the 20-plus years he has lived in the area.
As he explained his plight, a dark gray traffic car sped by.
“Those are the ones,” he said, pointing to the vehicle.
Despite his claims of a ticketing blitz in the vicinity of West End Avenue between West 101st and 104th streets, in a three-hour jaunt around the neighborhood last week, the aforementioned traffic car was the only one to be seen. Double parked cars on the other hand, littered West End Avenue and intersecting side streets.
Indeed, double parking seems to be a way of life for area drivers. Aaron Frucher, who lives near 101st Street and West End Avenue, says he doesn’t think twice about pulling up alongside a parked car, even though he has gotten his fair share of tickets.
“It’s been there for 30 minutes,” he said, pointing to his the vehicle in front of his parents’ house. “I figure when money is tight they must give more tickets, though now a days they have been pretty strict about it.”
Terence Hanahan, who lives down the street from Stokar, has also noticed a rise in traffic cops writing parking tickets. During a phone conversation, he recalled an incident in April when his friend double parked to pick him up. Within about 30 seconds, he said, a cop on foot gave him a ticket.
But the NYPD says there’s no concerted effort to crack down on parking violations.
“There is no ticket frenzy underway,” read an unattributed email from the NYPD press office.
Still, ticketing has become enough of a problem that residents have complained to Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell. He’s written letters to 24th Precinct and Deputy Chief John T. Cassidy of the Traffic Control Division asking for the aggressive ticketing to cease. So far, he has gotten no response.
Despite last week’s ebb in traffic cop action, Stokar isn’t convinced the battle is over.
“I was doubled parked again in May and saw a cop,” he said. “Did I get a ticket? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the mail.”
All he can do is wait and see, fingers crossed.
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