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Many jeer trash ticketing blitz

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Something stinks – and it’s not their garbage. That’s the claim being levied by a group of seething Dyker Heights residents. They’re taking aim at the City’s Sanitation Department, after several homeowners were slapped with steep fines for having litter near their homes. Tempers boiled at a recent meeting of the Dyker Heights Civic Association, as residents labeled the tickets “harassment.” Dyker Heights resident Jo Ann DiMeglio described the ticket onslaught as “disgusting” and questioned whether other neighborhoods are being scrutinized to the same degree. Incensed citizens have secured an important ally: City Councilmember Vincent Gentile. “Bogus tickets are being issued,” said Gentile, saying he had also received complaints from constituents in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst. “The ticket blitz has just got to stop,” he said. So convinced of the Sanitation Department’s wrongdoing, Gentile’s office is telling residents to “bring in their tickets.” He’s vowed to help locals fight the expensive penalties. “The city is making us targets, not partners,” Gentile said. Paula Ricci of 80th Street in Dyker Heights is one resident lobbying for change. Ricci was smacked with a $100 fine on February 13. Her ticket cites a violation of the “dirty area” rule, and goes on to describe a “large accumulation” of flyers, candy wrappers and tissues. “It’s crazy – I’m not paying that,” Ricci said, noting she was at work when the citation was issued. Ricci claims her home was clean and tidy, and her neighbor Sunny Soave backs her up. “There was nothing there. It was clean,” said Soave. “They outright blatantly lied.” The City’s “Digest of Sanitation Codes” lists a host of offences with corresponding fines, but some believe the language is vague and open to interpretation. For instance, the code states that “backyards, areaways, courts, alleys and airshafts must be kept clean at all times.” But residents wonder, exactly how clean is “clean?” “If you have a candy wrapper on your lawn they can give you a ticket,” asserts Dyker Heights Civic Association President Fran Vella-Marrone. The code also states that enforcement agents will issue notices for dirty sidewalks or failure to clean 18 inches into the street only during specific hours. These residential “routing” times have been set citywide to between 8-9am and 12noon-1pm, but enforcement agents may issue notices for all other violations at any time. To clarify any confusion, Fran Vella-Marrone said she would invite a representative from the Sanitation Department to address her organization at an upcoming meeting. Meanwhile, Gentile said he would continue to push legislation to support “good faith New Yorkers.” Gentile has introduced a committee bill that would require multiple recycling violations before a summons is issued. The Brooklyn Democrat is also crafting legislation that could reduce unwanted commercial fliers, by placing the responsibility for cleaning up the fliers on distributing businesses, thus taking the onus off of homeowners. The Department of Sanitation did not return calls at press time.

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