By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
UPPER EAST SIDE — Paty's Taco Truck was towed from its Upper East spot on Thursday for the second time this week.
The truck had been ousted from its spot on Lexington Avenue near 86th Street more than a month ago when the truck founder's son, Alberto Loera, was arrested after getting a ticket and the truck was towed. The NYPD has continued to keep pressure on Paty's since its return.
Officers gave Loera a $55 ticket just after 12:30 p.m. Thursday for illegally selling merchandise at a metered spot and told him they would be back in 10 minutes to tow the truck if it didn’t move. When the NYPD returned to the spot at 2:45 p.m. and found the truck still there, they towed it.
Paty's stayed put because Loera wanted to make a point that selling food from his licensed truck was not the same as selling merchandise.
"I want to fight for my rights. It’s easy for me to move to another spot," he said. "But if they’re going to do this to me today, they’ll do this to another vendor tomorrow and it has to stop. We’re just regular working people."
While the NYPD rigged Paty's van to the tow truck, a police officer on the scene told Loera and others that they were just "following orders" and that they were not "targeting" them. The officer also mentioned that the 86th Street Association was "unhappy" with the trucks.
"It’s a public safety issue," said Elaine Walsh, president of the East 86th Street Residents/Merchants Association, who was walking by when the cops issued the ticket. The trucks don't "permit people to feel comfortable walking in the area." Paty's was parked near the busy 86th Street subway station on a mixed-use block, she noted.
Her group, as well as others concerned about sidewalk overcrowding and competition with stores, have long been fighting the trucks around Lexington and 86th Street, which have included a Halal truck, a Mister Softee (for the last 23 summers), a dumpling truck and a cupcake truck.
Loera said he would contest the ticket again. They received the same type of ticket on Tuesday that was dismissed on a technicality.
Many customers were glad to see the truck back.
"I understand it’s congested on the sidewalks but we love the tacos and he has a right to be here," said Kimberly Everette, 36, an office manager at a nearby medical office, who nixed plans for soup at Hot & Crusty when she saw the truck had returned.
Officers appeared with the tow truck just minutes after members from the Street Vendor Project, an advocacy group that was collecting signatures for a petition to lower vendor fines, had dispersed.