De Blasio Promises “Crackdown” on Parking Placard Abuse

Days after expanding the supply of placards by tens of thousands, the mayor warns people who use them illegally to "get to know where our impound lots are."

A new NYPD unit will be dedicated to enforcement of parking placard abuse. Image: NYC Mayor's Office
A new NYPD unit will be dedicated to enforcement of parking placard abuse. Image: NYC Mayor's Office

Mayor de Blasio announced plans today to “crack down” on rampant parking placard abuse, one week after his administration granted tens of thousands of new placards to school employees.

“There’s two things we have to be careful about,” de Blasio told reporters. “A parking permit that is issued legitimately, but then used inappropriately. And secondly, an illegitimate parking permit — one that’s not authentic.”

There are more than 100,000 official parking placards in circulation and an untold number of fraudulent ones. Placard abuse and fraud have been problems for a long time, most recently documented by the anonymous @placardabuse Twitter account, which posts pictures of vehicles with a variety of legit and fake placards illegally parked on sidewalks, in front of curb ramps, and in bike lanes, bus stops, and left turn lanes.

A newly-issued DOE parking placard. Image: Tipster
A newly-issued DOE parking placard.

Placard holders break the rules because they know they can get away with it. The sight of a placard or placard-like item on the dashboard intimidates traffic agents — who often have reason to fear reprisals from people higher up — into letting illegal parking slide.

The mayor says that permissiveness is over. “I was troubled to hear of this website that showed footage of enforcement agents not doing their job,” de Blasio said today, apparently in reference to the @placardabuse account, whose visual evidence has been cited by NY1’s Errol Louis and others. He promised increased enforcement and “real consequences for anyone that abuses a placard.”

“You better get to know where our impound lots are,” de Blasio warned violators. “Use it the right way, or you will be caught, and there will be consequences.”

NYPD plans to hire 100 more traffic agents to ticket violators and assign 16 police officers to a “placard fraud enforcement unit.” The city will also increase towing capacity and create new fines and penalties for both placard fraud and placard abuse. So the crackdown will rely on an agency with its own internal culture of placard abuse to enforce the law.

De Blasio also committed to “laying groundwork” for technology-based fixes — namely, license-plate readers that can easily scan vehicles on a block to check for abuse. He did not offer a timeline for implementing any new technology, however.

In the meantime, the city will monitor 311 complaints, @placardabuse (someone pay this hero), and other online forums for “information we can use” in enforcement, the mayor said.

De Blasio’s announcement comes on the heels of City Hall’s decision to distribute 50,000 new parking placards to Department of Education employees, reversing a Bloomberg-era reform.

Today he defended the move, arguing that it was a necessary step the city had to take as a result of litigation with its principals’ union. The DOE will create an office responsible for issuing new placards each year, he said, and the placards would only be authorized for use during school hours and in DOE-designated parking spots.

The 50,000 new DOE placards will bring the total number of city-issued placards to 148,516, de Blasio said. Both he and schools chancellor Carmine Fariña conceded that an influx of new placards will lead to more congestion, but de Blasio argued, not for the first time, that the effect will wane once teachers realize there’s still the same finite number of parking spots.

“We think, [congestion] will, in the end, level off,” he told reporters.

De Blasio appears to believe that complaints about placard abuse are coming from irate drivers competing for street space, not people walking and biking around cars cluttering the streets. “For many years as a driver, I experienced the challenge of finding a parking spot in my own neighborhood,” he told reporters. “Parking is one of the biggest quality of life concerns of all New Yorkers… There’s tremendous frustration when people feel that a parking space should be for the general public, and [it] isn’t.”

A placard system with enforcement is better than one without, but the simplest solution would be to abolish the placard system altogether. Placards are a huge, government-sanctioned incentive to drive into the most congested parts of town, and they help explain why public employees in Manhattan car commute at twice the rate of their private sector counterparts. Instead of putting our trust in a complex new enforcement regime, which will almost certainly lose momentum over time, a city without parking placards would be fairer for everyone.

  • Car-free majority

    “Parking is one of the biggest quality of life concerns of all New Yorkers… There’s tremendous frustration when people feel that a parking space should be for the general public, and [it] isn’t.”

    This man is wildly out of touch. Parking spaces should be for the general public to turn into something other than parking for cars.

  • Vooch

    solution is for the city to
    comply with federal law. Parking Placards are a taxable benefit. Any city employee signed up for a placard should have additional withholding taken from their paycheck.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I thought there is still time to collect signatures to get on the ballot? Could not a threat from the unions or Wall Street or the real estate industry emerge if they are not pandered to to the full?

    I guess the Mayor has calculated that it’s too late for someone not already in the process to get started, so he can pretend to pander to the general public for a couple of months before telling us to go to hell again, like the rest of them.

    And heck, he’s the Mayor, so I can’t doubt his political judgement.

  • NYCdenizen

    He mentions congestion…what ever happened to his soon-to-be-released congestion plan?

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Keep following @placardabuse for updates. Tied for best Twitter account with @dog_rates imo.

  • J

    Kinda like giving away thousands of top quality ID making machines, and then proposing a crackdown on fake IDs.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Here is the problem with the handle…

    Immigrants can’t vote.

    Young people don’t bother, particularly since they move frequently.

    Old people without cars still identify as drivers, and resent non-drivers.

    The general election doesn’t matter for most offices. There are generally no primaries. The only way you get a primary is if an incumbent ticks off — the placard holders.

    Thus a demographic majority is a political minority.

  • JudenChino

    Right. There was absolutely no reason to give away 50K more placards then there are legal parking spots for DoE. None. Zip, zilch, nada. Like, placards should be specific to each parking spot at the schools. Teacher spot 1, teacher spot 2, principal spot 1 etc . . ..

    Because, what the fuck else is the purpose of distributing a surplus of placards like that if they can’t be used?!? I mean, this is basic logic. Like, is he really that stupid? It makes no sense.

  • JudenChino

    The only way you get a primary is if an incumbent ticks off — the placard holders.

    Or if you, without notice, decide to caucus with the opposing party after you’re elected. I vote in every primary but I realize I’m an outlier and you’re right, the frequent moving (I’m in my mid-30s but I’ve lived in 4 different places in NYC in the past 9 years) makes it hard to track, and actually difficult to remain properly registered. I didn’t vote in the 2012 election because I had just moved and didn’t get the right paper work in time.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Immigrants can’t vote.

    Eh? Immigrants can vote, they can even hold any public office save for president and vice president.

  • qrt145

    OK, naturalized citizens (a subset of immigrants) can vote.

  • reasonableexplanation

    Any legal immigrant can apply for naturalization after 5 years of residency in the US.

  • iSkyscraper

    Oh please, like anything will change. In upper Manhattan at night EVERY SINGLE FIRE HYDRANT is regularly blocked by cars, often with meaningless placards, because NYPD does not enforce in the evenings. Even when they do respond to a call they run away from the sight of anything on a dashboard.

    And then you get events like the recent NYPD vs Corrections football game held at Columbia. It was open season for dozens of cruisers and placard vehicles that day.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/312557b9137e506e6be1d9bbae0d055f292e0ab3f8ecdf470b90fd7e9568e9e4.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/de562bb93f3257eca3ea48d8ecaeca0fc21f3515ed68ac3f020c3f89049a346e.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ef598010bb91fc2e8fac3eac8b100d0d553167fcd48ed0dced47d0e31d70136d.jpg

  • AMH

    Exactly, does the general public include people without a car, like me? It’s definitely a huge QOL concern–the problems created by free street parking degrade QOL for all of us.

    “De Blasio appears to believe that complaints about placard abuse are coming from irate drivers competing for street space, not people walking and biking around cars cluttering the streets.”

    This explains so much.

  • Joe R.

    Not to mention teachers are supposed to set an example for their students. Using public transit or cycling, instead of driving, is one great way to do this.

    And yes, de Blasio is that stupid to not see the disconnect between issuing more placards than there are spots. It’s predictable this will result in parking in front of hydrants, in crosswalks, on sidewalks, in front of driveways, even in driveways.

  • cjstephens

    Just wanted to thank you for alerting me to the existence of @dog_rates. You made my day.

  • Andrew

    Because, what the fuck else is the purpose of distributing a surplus of placards like that if they can’t be used?!?

    They can be used at hydrants, in bus stops, across crosswalks, etc.

  • Phil Serpico

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