Gas station owner used illegal sidewalk in towing scam, drivers say

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UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS -

Several drivers in University Heights are outraged after their cars were towed in what they say is a scam by the owner of a Mobil gas station owner who gets a cut of the towing fees.

New York City Councilman Fernando Cabrera says the owner of the gas station on Macombs Road and University Avenue illegally lowered the sidewalk last year to make a driveway for oncoming cars. He says the owner calls a towing company for cars that park along that sidewalk and then earns a cut of the fine.

Leo Lizardo tells News 12 that he had to pay a $300 towing fine last month after parking there.

News 12 The Bronx visited the location and saw that there are in fact signs that say parking is permitted.

Councilman Cabrera says the illegal sidewalk stretches for more than 100 feet. He says the owner of the gas station was issued a violation by the Department of Buildings last year but only paid a fee as opposed to making any changes to the sidewalk.

Cabrera is now asking the city of New York to raise the penalty for illegal sidewalks and to set a deadline for businesses to fix the problem.  If a business does not comply, he’s proposing a fine of up to $5,000.

Cabrera also wants to require towing companies that illegally tow cars to reimburse the driver for the fine they paid.

News 12 has reached out to the owner of the property for comment but has not yet received a response.

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