God Said, “Let There Be Parking Placards.” And It Was So.


Only three days remain until 20 percent of government parking placards must be surrendered, but as Gridlock Sam wrote here last month, that should be just the beginning of placard reform. Case in point: Uncivil Servants featured a story last week of an Upper East Side synagogue that manufactures its own bogus placards while the 19th Precinct turns a blind eye and infamous Community Board 8 lends a hand. Uncivil Servants reports that employees of the Park East Synagogue on East 68th Street have been getting away with the printing of homemade placards since the attacks of September 11, 2001:

The original baloney excuse for their parking was terrorism following
911 but the truth is they have used the tragedy of 911 as an excuse to
get a free parking perk at the expense of the community. The signage by
the way is either NO STANDING or NO PARKING 7AM – 7 PM. The location of this abuse is East 68th Street between Lexington and
Third Avenues on both the South and North side of the street where
typically you will find 8 to 10 of Park East employees’ personal
vehicles parked all day using bogus xeroxed placards

Post columnist David Seifman picked up the story on Sunday, writing that the synagogue has agreed to gradually reduce — but not eliminate — its use of false permits, in a scheme brokered by Community Board 8:

"After a very lengthy and detailed discussion, [Park East] agreed to the recommendation that they reduce the number of placards to eight by the end of June 2008, then decrease by four by June 2009, and two the following year, until the number of placards in use is reduced to two by June 2010," said the e-mail from Assistant District Manager Latha Thompson.

City Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan) told The Post the community board was way out of bounds. "It’s unacceptable for individuals to be generating their own parking placards," he said.

Seifman also reports that Park East director Joel Baum offered an alternative explanation for the placards. Baum says they are used by teachers at the synagogue who are following the example set by the city’s public school teachers. More proof that once one group claims a special privilege, the circle of entitlement tends to widen.

Photo: Dick Tracy / Uncivil Servants

  • mike

    Interesting scheme the Community Board came up with. As of right now, those placards are implicitly illegal. Come March 1st, they will be explicitly illegal.

    So instead of the “number of placards in use is reduced to two by June 2010”, they better get used to “0 placards, effective immediately”.

  • I have been printing 50 counterfeit $1000 bills for myself each month. Now that I have been caught, I promise I will cut down to 8 counterfeit $1000 bills a month by the end of June, 2008.

  • rhubarbpie

    I’m pretty sure that IS what God said, right after he said, “You have a God-given to drive anywhere you damn well please.”

  • ddartley

    9/11 is the reason my office stopped allowing indoor bike parking.

    It’s profound, isn’t it, how that statement is utterly absurd, and yet it’s true?

  • Larry Littlefield

    (More proof that once one group claims a special privilege, the circle of entitlement tends to widen.)

    Only if those on the outside are willing to break the law. The trend has actually been for the circle of entitlement to deepen, with those receiving special privileges getting more of them and those out the outside worse and worse off.

    If this keeps up, no one will be willing to obey the law, pay taxes, pay fares or work, because everyone will have a legitimate case for following a higher authority.

  • mike

    thou shalt not covet thy neighbors’ parking placard, but print one of thy own.

  • Exactly how does 9/11 become an excuse for parking permits.

  • Felix


    You’re not supposed to ask that question. The whole point of putting “9/11” in the explanation is to ensure that scrutiny is avoided.

  • Kudos to Garodnick for calling it BS and making such a blanket statement.

  • Larry Littlefield

    I thought 9/11 would have the opposite effect, as it did in London.

    I hope our military and homeland security personnel will be able to prevent an attack with WMD, but there is little they can do to stop a Tim McVeigh style truck bomb or an Iraq-style car bomb from killing hundreds in a dense location.

    I expected that 9/11 would lead to something like the “trusted traveler” program of only certain people being able to drive onto Manhattan Island without a search. Perhaps Long Island and Staten Island too.

    I guess they are waiting for something horrible to happen in order for the political will to be mobilized.

    Does just anyone have a “right” to drive into the Old City of Jeruselam?

  • Aaron

    Once exposed to sunlight, they are claiming that the placards are used by teachers, but the placard in the photo clearly says “clergy.” Which is the lie?

    Behavior like this by synagogues makes this regular synagogue-goer crazy. Especially when our no-cars-on-the-Sabbath rule creates so much potential for the traditional synagogue to be a leading streets-friendly institution.

  • God

    I would like to clarify certain statements that have recently been made in my name.

    In heaven, it is not our policy to issue parking permits. In fact, heaven is entirely car-free.

    However, our associates in hell have plenty of parking spaces. The drivers and driver-enablers mentioned in your news item will find their way there in due time.

  • Each S’blogger should post one or two shots to UncivilServants next week. Let’s kick the new policy off with a bang!

  • Lucifer

    Actually, I’d like to report that in hell there are billions of cars…but only one parking spot.

  • livable streets soul

    Does this mean we’re in purgatory now?

  • kt

    interesting. just today i saw an illegally parked vehicle on canal at church st. with a homemade “clergy” placard sitting on the dash and big crosses hanging from the rearview mirror.

  • vnm

    I thought about this issue a lot last summer when I rode up Frederick Douglass Boulevard and noted the ornate signs placed in the street reading “pastor parking” and such. I concluded that this whole thing doesn’t really bother me because it doesn’t expand the amount of parking. It just reallocates it. Yeah, it’s presumptuous on the part of the clergy, but it just makes parking that much more difficult, which, in general, reduces the desire to operate a car.


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