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June 01, 2017

Why did it take Philly so long to tow this car?

Parking PPA
Mayfair Truck Daniel Craig/PhillyVoice

This unregistered truck has been illegally parked on the 4000 block of Princeton Avenue since February, according to one neighbor.

Eric Fink has been on a crusade. For the past three and a half months, he's been bugging city agencies by phone and on social media with one request: Please tow this truck.

Until Thursday morning, the truck in question had been parked in a metered spot on the 4000 block of Princeton Avenue in the Mayfair neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia, right next to a shopping plaza.

There was no registration on the license plate, and in addition to one parking ticket that was stuck to its windshield, at least 11 tickets visibly sat on the passenger's seat, apparently slipped through the cracked window.

"That doesn't count the ones that blow away," Fink said while observing the car Wednesday morning.

Fink, who works at his father's namesake hoagie shop nearby, claimed the vehicle had been there since Feb. 11 when the driver was picked up by police (PhillyVoice has been unable to confirm the driver's identity or the result of his encounter with police).

Since then, the truck racked up ticket after ticket. The explanation for why it remained has bedeviled him, and its presence frustrated other businesses near the corner.

Daniel Craig/PhillyVoice

At least 11 tickets were sitting on the front seat — apparently slipped through a crack in the window — of a truck illegally parked in the Mayfair neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia.

"It draws away from business because there's only a few parking spots out here," said Ryan Anderson, who works at Stein Your Florist across the street.

With the florist and adjacent plaza, Fink said, parking can be scarce during peak hours, such as the late morning and early afternoon on weekdays.

"You got businesses here, they got trucks that load up all day, this parking lot gets full during the day," Fink said. "No one's doing anything."

Vijay Patel, who works at the convenience store adjacent to where the truck is parked, joked that it had racked up "a thousand tickets," and complained that it interfered with the delivery trucks that make drop offs at the store every day.

So why, at a Philadelphia Parking Authority meter spot, was it still there for months? Fink said when he contacted the PPA in March, he was told the vehicle was located outside the parking authority's tow zone. Such cars needed three tickets in default before they could be towed, a policy that was reiterated to Fink by the agency on Twitter.

Fink scoffed at the reasoning: "That doesn't make sense, because you can see there's 11 tickets on the (seat)."

The PPA did say on Twitter earlier in May that the car will be eligible for a boot or towing by May 28 — that date came and went and neither had happened.

PPA spokesperson Marty O'Rourke told PhillyVoice in an email Thursday that the vehicle was, in fact, outside the city's straight tow zone, although he did not respond to a question seeking the boundaries of that zone. O'Rouke also said that thanks to three "outstanding" tickets, the truck had been booted Wednesday night and towed Thursday morning

But Fink's annoyance extends past the truck itself.

"You contact someone in the city and no one responds to you, they just give you the runaround," Fink said. O'Rourke didn't respond to questions about the frustration expressed by Fink and others.

Responding to the news Thursday that the truck would in fact be towed, Fink didn’t mince words.

“It's sad that the agencies in this city only react when they're trying to cover their asses,” Fink wrote in a Twitter message Thursday, saying that nothing was done during the months of complaining from neighbors and businesses. "They get contacted from the media and take care of it. What a joke.“