Chinatown Placard Abusers Get the Hook


It looks like 5th Precinct Commanding Officer Gin Yee, the Sheriff of Chinatown, is laying down the law once again. A Streetsblog tipster spotted these tow trucks as they were removing government placard abusers from their illegal parking spots in Chinatown. While it’s refreshing to see the police "towing their own," the tipster notes that as soon as the trucks pulled away a new group of placard abusing government employees swooped in to claim the empty parking spaces.

If you squint your eyes, you can almost see the temporary "No Permit Parking" notice in the photo below. It looks like a piece of printer paper taped beneath the red "No Standing" sign. Manhattan Community Board 3 has asked the Department of Transportation to install "No Permit Parking" signs throughout Chinatown. Perhaps they also need to ask for a roving squadron of tow trucks to patrol their neighborhood. That would help police and court officers get the picture that Lower Manhattan is more than just their personal parking lot.


  • Jonathan

    The truck in the first picture is an NYPD tow-truck; the one in the second belongs to TEA. I think the gentleman in the blue watch cap in the second picture is a TEA agent, too. Are you sure they were working together? I rarely see that, and I suppose it represents a step forward in the fight against illegal parking.

  • NixIllegalPermitAbuse_Then let’s talk

    I live on that block. Here’s a followup. On the very next day – today – NYPD tow trucks were out there again towing placarded vehicles – two days of NYPD towing NYPD! Is anyone getting the message – Placarded cars are not tolerated in Chinatown? The damage has already been done, businesses have closed specifically because of permit abuse. The 5th Pct is protecting its residents and businesses, just like the rest of the police precincts in NYC SHOULD be doing. Reeducation of government sector employees is obviously an uphill grind. The people that got towed were commuters who were not on “official business”. Let’s repeat the message because it’s taking some time to sink in – “Chinatown is in a D.O.T. No Permit Area”, just like most of the area below Canal Street. Keep making those 311 complaint calls.

  • No Permit Parking signs for NYC

    UPDATE ON THE ABOVE. For the third time this week, NYPD tows NYPD. Heavy duty! What does this mean? This means that Chinatown needs permanent “No Permit Parking” signs to give these NYPD tow truck drivers a break and give Chinatown some longlasting relief! The 5th Pct is to be commended again. The rest of the City’s local precincts should follow this fine example of law enforcement – but more importantly – the City needs to give us NO PERMIT PARKING signs, just like Community Boards 2 and 3 have requested of the D.O.T.!!!!

  • lee

    I wonder where they are towing them to. Are they writing a ticket and a $185 tow fee, or are they just relocating the car to a place for the officer to pick it up later?

  • DroveACityCarForYears

    “No Permit Parking signs for NYC”‘s comment is just silly. Every one of those “placard parkers” knows they’re parking illegally, and every enforcement knows this too. The boundaries of the “no-permit” zone are not a secret. Lack of information has nothing to do with the problem, and forcing DOT to spend scarce dollars putting up signs that serve no purpose is plain stupid.

  • No Permit Parking signs for NYC

    TO: DroveACityCarForYears above –

    No Permit Parking signs – stupid? Smell the coffee and learn. Chinatown DOES have No Permit Parking signs, U fool. Community Boards 2 and 3 in lower Manhattan have unanimously passed resolutions requesting Dept of Transportation to post permanent No Permit Parking signs in their neighborhoods, and, the 5th Pct in Chinatown has requested this of the D.O.T. also. Are these people stupid, or R U? Yes, commuting government sector permit abusers know they’re parking illegally, they know what’s on the back of the parking permits – they need a re-education just like the rest of NYC. The presence of No Permit Parking signs means that people can report Posted Sign Violations, which then go directly to the local precincts who are obligated to respond. In Chinatown there are paper No Permit Parking signs, it’s long overdue, and cheap, to make them Permanent.

    In the past 6-7 years, NYC has lost $300-million due to illegal parking by government sector commuters on meters [Bruce Schaller 2006, $46-million/year lost due to illegal parking by government sector commuters]. Scarce DOT money? Let’s see the DOT post some No Permit Parking signs and get it back. That doesn’t sound silly, it sounds like real money.

  • ddartley

    “The rest of the City’s local precincts should follow this fine example of law enforcement”

    The reset of the precincts should follow the 5th’s example of something else–integrity. That’s something ordinary people should have–and police officers should have even more. So far it’s as if we’ve got a few, and they’re at the 5th Precinct.

    Besides, how funny is it to have to say that precincts need to follow an example of enforcing the law?

  • Larry Littlefield

    I have a photograph of a road sign at home that is relevant to my former career:

    “Entering Town of Taghkanic, Zoning in Place and Enforced”

    There out to be a similar sign for NYC.

    “Entering the City of New York. Zoning, traffic rules, and other ordinances only enforced episodically against the politically powerless.”

  • DroveACityCarForYears

    Yes, “no permit” signs are stupid. Every permit has a map outlining the “no-permit” area in Lower Manhattan clearly. People who have these permits know where they’re not supposed to park. Ditto for the cops and court officers who print their own. Ditto for all the enforcement officers theoretically writing tickets. Putting up “no permit” signs is completely redundant, expensive, and pointless. Abuse has nothing to do with lack of information. The enforcement effort you’re seeing now isn’t happening because some signs went up. It’s happening because one precinct CO actually decided to address this issue.

  • Jonathan

    Signs are pointless. There’s a Westchester County prison guard who parks in front of the hydrant by my (New York County) house. He still doesn’t get towed.

  • No Permit Parking signs for NYC

    NO PERMIT PARKING signs most definitely work! Your guy parking on a hydrant is a safety hazard, so he’s especially out of line. Cars get towed in my neighborhood specifically on the grounds of POSTED SIGN VIOLATIONS – the posted signs say “NO PERMIT PARKING”. Are you constantly complaining to your local precinct, the press, or local community board? If you are not complaining about it, then you will continue to see this guy park on a hydrant – right in your face. At least in NYC you can call 311 anonymously to register a complaint. This does take time and A LOT of calls, it’s taken 2 years to get illegally parked placarded cars towed on a regular basis in Chinatown, but it’s well worth it to send the message and reeducate illegal parkers. Towing and NO PERMIT PARKING signs send a strong message: “You can’t park illegally with a permit around here!” Spread the message. The media, local police precinct and your local community board all can help and these sources need to be contacted regularly to get results.

  • Jonathan

    Thanks for the berating, NPP, but I have larger goals in my life than “to send the message and reeducate illegal parkers.”

  • No Permit Parking signs for NYC

    “…then you will continue to see this guy park on a hydrant – right in your face.”
    When you walk away, he’ll still be parked on that hydrant. Obviously, you’re pissed off enough at this guy to take the time and energy to comment on his illegal parking habits. Why not do something about it?

    In spite of the negative/defeatist attitude that pervades this blog, the reason I still leave comments here is that I hope that someone will pick up the ball and run with it, instead of just complain.

  • Jonathan

    NPP, I value your participation in this public forum and you are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I don’t really want to run with your ball. The story about the car on my block is meant to illuminate what I think is short-sighted about your platform: that people know they’re not supposed to park in front of hydrants, yet they do it anyway because they have a permit and know that the police won’t give them a ticket. People also regularly double-park, should we have signs that say “no double-parking?”

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Before I do any running, I want to know what NPP is doing with the ball in his or her own area.

    There are many times when a sign is not enough.

  • No Permit Parking signs for NYC

    Back to Jonathan above. Tx for your comment, but I feel is you who are short-sighted. You sound like one of the many people, the majority, who will sit and watch and say “That’s the way things are.” The only way illegal parkers will learn (reeducate) themselves is the hard way – and that is to get ticketed and towed. Why to you think cars were towed on THREE days last week? Three days of towing in one week, is a MUCH stronger message then one day of towing – maybe they’ll learn faster! I refer to my previous notes above describing NYPD towing NYPD – Do you think the NYPD placarded commuters who got towed are getting the message yet – are they reeducated yet? How many times will illegal parkers get towed until they learn: “You can’t park in Chinatown illegally.” These people who got towed will tell others who park illegally with permits to “Stay away from Chinatown”, and they will in turn tell others: There are “No Permit Parking” signs in Chinatown, and the local police precinct in Chinatown actually enforces the Law! There used to be 20+ cars illegally parked on my block in the years everday following 9/11 – now it’s randomly down to 3-6 cars daily – I think some of those illegal permit people are getting reeducated. Go ahead, make some anonymous 311 complaint calls about illegal parking (I have personally made many, many, many 311 complaint calls about illegal permit abuse) – I double dare you. I hope DroveACityCar above reads this also.

    To Angus Grieve-Smith, as you can tell, one part of “running with the ball” is participating in blogs like this and sharing information. When illegal parkers get towed in my neighborhood, I feel like I’ve made a touchdown.

  • No Permit Parking signs for NYC

    To DroveACityCar above, I will paint the picture simple, so you can understand it, and I will not use words like “stupid” and “silly”.

    The ABSENCE of No Permit Parking signs is an open invitation to the government sector to abuse their permits. Why is this? It is because illegal permit abusers have obviously learned (educated themselves) that they can get away with it. They are “taught” that parking illegally okay because no one bothers them. This is reinforced every time they get away with it and it’s been going on for years.

    The PRESENCE of No Permit Parking signs means that anyone parked with a permit next to a No Permit Parking sign is very obviously making a POSTED SIGN VIOLATION. If a Traffic Enforcement Agent walks by and sees this POSTED SIGN VIOLATION and does not give a summons, you can take that agent’s badge number and report him/her using 311. Of course, this may sound like too much work and it make take too much time for you, but I have done it, and over time this documentation adds up and gives the local precinct leverage to act – tow. I know for a fact that the Commanding Officer of the 5th Pct towed specifically because of a high volume of 331 complaint calls about illegal parking. This action would not be possible in the ABSENCE of No Permit Parking signs. (It’s a simple difference, but it makes all the difference in the world when you can point to an actual No Permit Parking sign and drag a Traffic Enforcement officer over to it and ask him/her for their badge number.)

  • James Goldberg

    Why to you think cars were towed on THREE days last week?

    No Permit,

    Cars were towed three days last week because Chinatown merchants and community members (such as yourself, clearly), working with Transportation Alternatives and elected representatives have really been pressing this issue hard for well over a year now.

    The towings didn’t have all that much to do with the installation of “No Permit Parking” signs.

    It’s annoying and, frankly, weird that you continue to argue vehemently that the key to solving this problem is to get more “No Permit” signs installed. Clearly, you are aware that it takes a lot more to get the tow trucks out than a No Permit sign given that you say you’ve been spending quite a bit of time on 311.


    I fought for a “No Honking” sign on my street a few years back. It didn’t stop the honking.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    When illegal parkers get towed in my neighborhood, I feel like I’ve made a touchdown.

    I’ll cheer to that. But is it enough to win the game?

    I don’t think any of us here are defeatist about this. I think we’re just looking to leverage our energies for maximum effect. Imagine if there was a particular politician who could persuade the police commissioner to implement effective discipline policies that would eventually bring permit abuse down to negligible levels. Let’s say I’ve got an hour a week that I can donate to this issue. Would it be better for me to spend that hour making 311 calls, or lobbying that politician?

    I don’t know if such a politician exists, or if that approach would actually be more effective than getting a solid record of abuse into the 311 database. I’m just saying that the possibility exists, and it’s worth investigating.

    One more thing about “no permit” signs: if they become the rule, then everywhere that there are no “no permit” signs, permit parking will be implicitly permitted. Every time the DOT gets lazy and decides they don’t want to put up a “no permit” sign, then the permit parking zone will increase a little bit.

    If you can get it enforced the other way – that an unmarked permit parking zone is no permit parking zone at all – then every time the DOT gets lazy the no permit parking zone will increase a little bit. My apologies to all our friends at the DOT, but I’d rather have DOT laziness on our side.

  • No Permit Parking signs for NYC

    To Angus
    Surely winning one battle does not mean you’ve won the war. The reason we are winning these little battles in Chinatown is because we can call 311 and complain heavily about POSTED SIGN VIOLATIONS. It’s safe to say that’s not going on in other neighborhoods where there are no such signs.

    It seems that arguing on this blog is pointless. I am speaking from actual experience, research and observation, but frankly, I think this blog just stays on the level of “stupid” and “silly” and “annoying”.

    To all of you above:
    The facts speak for themselves, when No Permit Parking signs were posted in Chinatown, illegal permit parking decreased by 75%. This is a direct observation, not theory – I see it everyday. Comprende’?

    I have addressed anything you have remarked upon in all of my comments above, especially #17. If, after reading all my comments closely, you still don’t get it, you may never get it.

    So far – I will repeat – TWO Community Boards and One local Police precinct have requested NO PERMIT PARKING signs. There is a reason why all these people are making this request – again, please read all my previous comments.

  • No Permit Parking signs for NYC

    To Mr. Goldberg,

    The fact is, and I mean in this “vehemently” –
    No Permit Parking signs really work!

    No Permit Parking signs have served to reduce daily illegal permit abuse in Chinatown by 75% – I can tell you this because I actually count the number of illegal permit abusers everyday when I walk my dog. When the numbers of illegal parkers creep up too hign, 311 calls are made.

    I think it is annoying and weird that you can toot your horn from a distance and make judgements while swimming in denial of hard facts. You may find it “weird”, but really, it’s true, it’s a FACT – I have personally seen No Permit Parking signs working to reduce permit abuse in Chinatown on a day-to-day basis since last Spring of 2007.

    Sure, maintenance is a bitch – that means 311 calls, and the 5th Pct coming out to tow some cars periodically to make sure the numbers stay down (Towing obviously reenforces the message of the No Permit Parking signs and educates permit abusers to the fact that they can’t get away with permit abuse any more, at least in Chinatown. The permit abusers who get towed tell other permit abusers, and so on, and so on.) There is no doubt in my mind that No Permit Parking signs in Chinatown are a constant and necessary reminder.

  • No Permit Parking signs for NYC

    In response to Jonathan, just an FYI on the first comment – 1. All the tow trucks towing in Chinatown are NYPD tow trucks with large “NYPD” printed on the sides, they are not TEA. I took multiple pix and some videos.

  • chinatown resident

    Short of total elimination of all placards, the permanent signage outlining the no-permit areas in the City is the next logical step in enforcement. Paper signage was already a help in enforcement in Chinatown, you probably never had anyone at your precinct balls large enough to post paper signage , so you’re thinking it won’t work. They worked, unfortunately, they are made of paper, they dissappear with the rain. Whoever said that “every permit has the bounderies on it” is flat out wrong.

    Some have a map on it, others do not.

    There will always be SOME areas of the City where placards are permitted, so yes, the area that does not have a sign, most definitely will have placard cars parked there. Which is why there are people in Chinatown who are lobbying hard for the City to reveal their $400,000.00 study which will point out just how much abuse is going on, with regard to placards.
    What is not being discussed here, (probably because those complaining about being “annoyed” by this idea are armchair quarterbacks) is the whole picture – 1)lobbying hard for the $400,000.00 study (its been demanded in Chinatown at every PLANYC meeting and has yet to be released) – The study was prompted because Chinatown was forcing the placard issue harder than anywhere else in the City, 2) permanent metal signage, Chinatown put pressure on the local precinct and accomplished paper signage and warning flyers on the windshields of cop cars, 3) reduction of the number of placards,period. 4) reopening of Municipal parking garage , 400 parking spaces lost. 5) calling 311 – as the commanding officer of the 5th precinct said “I had to do something, there were too many 311 calls in a short period”.

    Armchair quarterbacks are as pervasive and lazy as DOT sign-installers on this blog.
    There were a lot of people four years ago that said “photographs will not do anything” “you’re wasting your time” – Now there is a website devoted to photographs taken by average NY’ers of abusers, and to photos are still being used in the media to embarrass this Mayor.
    I don’t care what you nay-sayers have to say about permanent signage, because you’re still farting into your seat cushions, while others are working on the big picture in real time, in real life, in real community board meetings, and in the precinct meetings every month.
    If you were you’d understand what progress has been made on a local level specifically in Chinatown.


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