Calls 311 to gripe and gets ticket


Daily News Exclusive

New York Daily News -



When Dara Sclar saw city garbage trucks idling in front of her Brooklyn home and spilling litter on her lawn Monday, she called 311 to complain.

But instead of getting help, she got a $100 ticket from the Sanitation Department - for having litter on her lawn.

"It happened an hour and a half after I complained," Sclar, 36, told the Daily News. "They were just singling me out because I complained."

The problem started Monday morning when the mother of four noticed two city garbage trucks idling on her corner, waiting for street sweepers to empty their trash bins into the trucks.

When Sclar complained to the drivers, they said it was their regular transfer spot - and although one agreed, at least, to shut off his engine, the other refused, she said.

"He was drinking his coffee and reading his paper, and he told me to call 311," Sclar said. "So I did."

Then she ran some errands - and returned to find a $100 ticket citing her for having a "dirty area" on her lawn.

The Sanitation Department enforcement officer wrote that she saw "cups, paper, napkins, flyers, chip bags and other litter scattered all over" - garbage that came from the street sweepers transferring trash in front of her house, Sclar said.

"You made my lawn dirty, and then you ticketed me for it," she said.

Her husband, lawyer Alan Sclar, 38, charged that the ticket was sheer retribution.

"Why else would it happen?" he asked. "They've never given us a ticket before. We were never once warned. We never once heard anything about it. Then she makes a complaint, and literally one hour later, they give her a ticket."

But Sanitation Department spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins called it a coincidence. "One has nothing to do with the other," she said. "I don't think things work that quickly in New York City."

Dawkins said the department would try to move their transfer point away from Sclar's house - and if she doesn't like the ticket, she needs to tell it to the judge at her April 20 hearing.

"If she feels that the ticket was given unjustly or erroneously, she can reply by mail or in person," Dawkins said. "I'm quite sure that's enough time to gather together her witnesses and all her information so she can contest it."

The summons came on the same day that The News reported the plight of a Brooklyn man who called 311 to say someone had dumped two cans of industrial paint thinner outside his house.

After calling, he was threatened with $5,000-a-day fines if he didn't spend $500 to have the cans removed by a professional service. But city officials hauled them away - and stopped the threats -after The News' story.

Originally published on March 18, 2005


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