By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
LOWER MANHATTAN – A judge on Wednesday dismissed a traffic ticket the NYPD slapped on Paty's Taco Truck when it returned to the Upper East Side this week.
Alberto Loera and his mother, Patricia Monroy, went to traffic court with lawyers from the Street Vendor Project advocacy group to contest the charge. They received the ticket and had their truck towed because police said they could not use a metered parking space to sell merchandise.
But Loera and Monroy never got to make their case. The judge at the 66 John St. court dismissed the $55 fine on a technicality — police didn't write a necessary detail about the truck on the ticket.
Paty’s Taco Truck is expected to return to their East 86th Street and Lexington Avenue location on Thursday to resume selling burritos, cemitas and tacos.
Several residents on Community Board 8, who have been complaining about food trucks, have singled out Paty’s, which has been selling food on the Upper East Side for two years. Residents worry the trucks are illegally hogging metered parking spots and that they are unfairly competing with struggling stores.
Other trucks in the area said they’ve gotten tickets or been the subject of complaints, but Paty’s seems to have faced more heat. The popular taco truck had been ousted from the neighborhood last month following a ticketing blitz that culminated in Loera’s arrest and his truck being towed.
“I’ve been feeling harassed. I feel like this is personal,” Monroy said in Spanish. “We get a ticket that wasn’t even made correctly. What’s the reason they towed the truck?”
She has become so nervous from the incidents that she has “stomach pain” when she sees cops, she said.
The Street Vendor Project said vendors, in general, face harassment from law enforcement, a harsh ticketing system and regulations confusing to vendors and cops alike.
"With the ticket now dismissed, we hope the police will not bother Alberto and Patricia, who have been serving the Upper East Side community, with much support and without incident, for years," said Sean Basinski, of the Street Vendor Project.
The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Loera and Monroy were pleased they would not have to pay the $370 fee to retrieve their truck from the tow pound on the West Side, but before they could get the paperwork cleared, they had to pay an outstanding $125 ticket for an expired meter violation in September.
They had $1,500 in remaining tickets dating back to September, Loera noted.
“We see two or three cops a day giving us tickets: expired meter, feeding the meter, for double-parking when we’re waiting to pull into a spot,” he said.
“It’s too much,” Monroy added.