Reversing Bloomberg Reforms, City Will Reissue Tens of Thousands of Teacher Parking Placards

Citing a process of "arbitration and negotiation," the de Blasio administration will return to a system that enables widespread abuse of parking privileges.

Streets around NYC schools are about to get more chaotic.
Streets around NYC schools are about to get more chaotic.

Get ready for a lot more car traffic and illegal parking around New York City schools. Tens of thousands of new parking placards will soon be in circulation.

Under the terms of arbitration between the city and the United Federation of Teachers, the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, and DC 37 — unions that represent teachers, administrators, and other school staff — the Department of Education will soon hand out parking placards to any school employee who has a car and requests one, reversing reforms instituted during the Bloomberg administration.

The arbitration stemmed from a 2009 lawsuit filed by CSA, the principals union, a DOE spokesperson told Streetsblog.

The lawsuit was filed after then-mayor Michael Bloomberg reduced placards issued by DOE from 63,000 to around 11,000, aligning the number of placards with the number on-street parking spots reserved for schools.

The DOE cuts were part of a broader effort to reform a placard system plagued by abuse. Placards do not confer the right to park anywhere with impunity, but placard holders tend to treat them as a carte blanche, knowing that enforcement agents will typically avoid ticketing any vehicle that has one.

Like placards issued to NYPD, FDNY, and other city personnel, the DOE’s placards were often used to park illegally — in crosswalks, at bus stops, by fire hydrants — prompting the Bloomberg-era reforms.

UFT eventually accepted the reduction in placards — which, it should be noted, did not affect the 15,000 off-street parking spaces reserved for schools citywide. But the CSA sought and won an arbitration ruling that said the placards should be reinstated to comply with the union’s contract with the city. The Bloomberg administration did not reissue the placards, and the CSA sued the city, the Education Department, and Bloomberg.

“Following litigation and negotiations, we are complying with the decision of the administrative law judge,” said the DOE spokesperson via email. The extent to which the city’s hand was forced is not yet clear. (Streetsblog asked DOE and City Hall for the text of the ruling. We will update the story when we receive a response.)

Now the placard floodgates are about to reopen. Currently, a school with, say, 10 on-street parking spots has 10 placards, which are available to 10 teachers and other staff members on any given day. (The UFT agreement with the city gave school principals and union chapter leaders, who are also teachers, discretion as to how placards are assigned. Schools may, for instance, allocate permits on a rotating basis, or by lottery.) Soon, that same school could have any number of employees competing for those 10 spots, since the number of on-street spaces allocated per school will not increase.

The DOE will be responsible for tens of thousands of placards, as it was when the system was rife with abuse.
The DOE will be responsible for tens of thousands of placards, as it was when the system was rife with abuse.

“I have news that many UFT members will welcome,” UFT President Michael Mulgrew wrote in a May 9 member email. “Every school employee who has a car will receive a Department of Education-issued parking permit, and effective May 18 the school’s on-street parking spots will become available on a first-come, first-served basis.”

Unlike before, new placards will confer parking privileges only at the school a teacher works for. In practice, however, that’s not enough to curb misuse, since government employees with placards tend to use them whether or not they have a legal space to park. Once the designated spots fill up, placard holders can then use their perk to park in nearby no-standing zones, crosswalks, or other turf that should be off-limits, secure in the knowledge they won’t get a ticket.

Tens of thousands of new placards will mean more traffic near schools and incentivize driving over transit. Teachers, administrators, and other school staff who don’t drive to work, meanwhile, will apparently receive no commensurate benefit.

Explaining why the union went along with the Bloomberg cuts, then-UFT president Randi Weingarten told the Times: “Anybody who wanted a parking permit got a parking permit, and it didn’t mean there was a spot to go with it, and there was huge frustration.” This is the system DOE is returning to.

  • drosejr

    Hmm, election year shenanigans?

  • JudenChino

    This is really bad. Like, really bad. This isn’t Vision Zero. This isn’t good public policy. Why is BDB such a fucking coward.

  • Jeff

    Schools in particular are such an excellent place to encourage illegal parking and additional traffic.

  • Vooch

    No biggie – this is obviously a taxable benefit.

    City needs to withhold appropriate taxes from the paychecks of those teachers with placards. Its federal law.

    City can also implement a Safe Schools program – opening the streets to children surrounding every school during school days. Would easy to install, just takes a few signs and some bollards.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    There goes the remaining Play Streets that still function as anything but parking lots.

  • The one by MS51 is already filled with placarded vehicles all the time. The 78th is good about talking to the school, but it’s like dealing with a roach infestation. You clear them out and then a few days later they come back.

    What a city we live in where we value car parking over kids!

  • Anxiously Awaiting Bikeshare

    It is reasonable for a union to be upset, and win suit, when a benefit they receive is being taken away outside of the collective bargaining process.

    That being said, the police should just enforce the rules and give parking tickets and/or tow depending on the infraction. I don’t know why police would have any empathy for teachers versus anyone else parking illegaly. When cops park illegally, I get that ticketing another cop might hurt the enforcing officer’s career. But ticketing a teacher has no such motivation. This is an easy problem to solve.

  • djx

    THIS.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    There is no law except for physical law when it comes to cars in this city. We need to start insisting on bollards to enforce stuff like this. They figured this out in a lot of European cities decade ago.

  • c2check

    What’s the market value of a 200 square foot slice of NYC?

  • Brad Aaron

    Except the CSA was the only union to contest the placard reduction, and the “remedy” was applied across the board.

  • This is just another exhibit in the case that Vision Zero is first and foremost a marketing initiative.

  • Larry Littlefield

    The solution is obvious. Deny the kids the use of the playgrounds, and turn them into parking lots for teachers commuting in from the suburbs. They’ve done it before in New York City, before Bloomberg. And apparently it still goes on elsewhere.

    http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2014/09/23/playgrounds-double-as-teacher-parking-lots-in-some-newark-schools/

    The public employees don’t want to use public transit any more than they want to use public hospitals or live in public housing. That is for the serfs.

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/the-executivefinancial-class-the-politicalunion-class-and-the-serfs/

  • Consultant

    Very curious. It’s almost as if the mayor was hoping to get the endorsement of a bunch of powerful unions during an election year.

  • Larry Littlefield

    And not all that concerned about anyone else.

    If you don’t want more placards for public employees, you are in favor of Donald Trump!

  • Vooch

    Manhattan – $9,000/year. About $3,300 in withholding required

  • Andrew

    Is the union also looking out for its members who don’t own cars or who might prefer to get around by other modes?

  • Vooch

    Bollards are used extensively in the civilized world to keep hulking death machines in their place. Good idea

  • Larry Littlefield

    Are they retired? If so, perhaps.

  • Kevin Love

    Isn’t it great when teachers set such a positive example for children?

  • walks bikes drives

    You know, it can be really annoying to read the unthought out dribble of people attacking others when there is no merit to the argument. Such comments come from Streetsblog readers, writers, and supporters when it is someone saying something against their thoughts or beliefs, but is thenot repeated the other way around. This was a legal decision handed down by a judge. Not a decision made by BdB. He had nothing to do with it. In fact, while the city fought the argument tooth and nail, in the end, the rule of law won out, because they city was violating a legally binding contract. One reason a union would need to make such a fight is that once you let one breaks in the contract go, more breaks start coming. Now, in future contracts, it is up to the city to negotiate language so that the permits are limited. In reality, the anarchy everyone is screaming about will not happen. The problem in years past, when all those permits were out there, was the fact that they were not school specific, as they now will be. It will still be the same teachers and staff who commute by car who will continue to commute by car, and those of us who dont will still not. There are only so many spaces available, and staff are all well aware of how many spaces are available. The problem came when teachers from other schools parked in front of a school near their home and did not move their cars.

  • Tyson White

    So regressive!

  • drosejr

    I refer you to the comments above. Only fought in court by the principals union, but given back to everyone. Mulgrews comment certainly showed it to be the perk we all believe it is.

  • Exactly right in all respects. The City has the obligation to comply with the judge’s ruling. And the union has the obligation not to set the bad precedent of overlooking the City’s non-compliance.

    Of course, from the larger perspective, that the union wanted these parking permits in the first place is not a good thing, as this promotes driving as opposed to the use of public transit. But that is purely an academic concern; it is not the issue here. The only issue here is the City having willfully ignored a judge’s ruling.

  • Vooch

    the union had no duty to fight for this

  • neroden

    The big, big problem is NYPD. If you had an actual police department, they’d enforce the laws and tow illegal parked cars, even if they had placards — even if they were police cars.

    Instead, you have a crime gang impersonating a police department. The results are obvious.

  • neroden

    Almost all of NYPD is fundamentally corrupt, which is the underlying problem here.

    (Yes, I know there are a few good cops, but they’re vastly outnumbered.)

  • neroden

    It is in actual fact illegal for “principals”, who are administrators, to have a union. How are they allowed to have a union?

    It’s actually federal law that management can’t have unions. (Designed to protect the real unions.) Principals don’t teach in NYC, as far as I can tell; they are strictly administrators, not teachers. How on earth are they permitted to have their own union? It’s federally illegal.

  • Frank Kotter

    It’s tribalism. They all belong to the ‘driving in NYC sucks and we understand the struggle’ tribe.

  • ItsEasyBeingGreen

    Is this true? A lot of managerial-level City workers are in unions…

  • Elizabeth F

    To be fair… the transit system does a better job of getting people to jobs in Midtown than getting people to jobs in schools scattered throughout the city’s residential neighborhoods. And in many outer borough locations, teachers likely take spaces vacated by residents leaving for the day.

    That said, a one-size-fits-all approach is clearly NOT the solution.

  • simon

    This is a disaster for new school construction.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Following litigation and negotiations, we are complying with the decision of the administrative law judge,” said the DOE spokesperson via email. The extent to which the city’s hand was forced is not yet clear. (Streetsblog asked DOE and City Hall for the text of the ruling. We will update the story when we receive a response.)”

    It is entirely possible that this is a political deal hiding behind a judge’s ruling.

    https://larrylittlefield.wordpress.com/2015/09/13/our-efficiently-inefficient-system-of-injustice/

    But wouldn’t you say as a public union man that the city now has an obligation to limit parking to placard holders for as many spaces as teachers with cars, and to keep adding more if more teachers take advantage and have cars?

    Was the right to a parking space in these contracts, or was it just a “tradition,” like not having to do your job. And if it was not written in the contract, who is to say they don’t have the right to reserved spaces too? Either that of if they arrive and find the spaces full, they deserve a day off with pay.

  • djx

    This reminds me of something we did in high school. I went to school in Manhattan, and one year our principal started parking in the playground. So one day a bunch of us picked up the car and moved it. We couldn’t move it to the street – no space, but we did move it to a place that interfered with our playspace less.

  • 1ifbyrain2ifbytrain

    Can’t we make the concept of legalizing illegal parking illegal?

  • drosejr

    Willing to revise your comment now, since UFT were handed the permits instead, not forced to by a judge?

  • From the standpoint of public policy, I favour the drastic reduction of parking placards across the board.

    But this must be done in the context of collective bargaining, not unilaterally. So, if the City wants this concession from its unions, it must offer something else as a tradeoff.

    (And I see that you’re no longer even trying to disguise your ugly anti-worker rhetoric. Contrary to your libelous assertions, teachers and principals certainly have to do their (very difficult) jobs, and can be fired for cause. Union contracts protect them from being disciplined arbitrarily or without due process. You surely know this; yet this knowledge does not prevent you from belching forth the intellectually dishonest trash that has become your calling card.)

  • It would be correct to say that the subway does a better job getting people to jobs in Midtown than in the outer boroughs. But let us not forget that the transit system includes a robust bus network that serves everywhere a school can be found.

    Anyway, a good replacment for parking placards for teachers and principals would be taxi reimbursement.

  • Elizabeth F

    > But let us not forget that the transit system includes a robust bus network that serves everywhere a school can be found.

    Sorry, the bus system sucks.

    For example… I want to get from my home in Westchester (at a Metro-North stop) to Kingsbridge, Bronx (242 St. on the 1 train). Getting to Fordham (10 miles) is fast, easy and cheap: $3 and 18 minutes on the Metro-North. Buses are frequent from Fordham to Kingsbridge (3 miles); but they are maddeningly slow, and take 40 minutes along traffic-clogged Fordham Rd. or Kingsbridge Rd. Nothing about that trip feels “robust.”

    In contrast… If I bike or drive to Kingsbridge (from my home), it’s only 7.3 miles and about 20-30 minutes (e-bike or drive). If I biked from Fordham, it would be only 20 minutes by bike. Sorry… Metro-North is great, subways are OK. But buses moving at an
    average speed of 5mph are nobody’s idea of a “robust system.”

    If I were a teacher working in Kingsbridge and I lived either where I do now or near Fordham, I would not use the bus to get to work. I would only consider transit for that trip if I lived in Manhattan.

    But it could be worse. Suppose I lived in Throgs Neck (Bronx), I could spend over 1.5 hours on the “robust” bus network (on a good day) getting to Kingsbridge. (That’s 12 miles, and maybe 40 minutes by car including traffic; or 50 minutes on e-bike).

    So much for the “robust” bus network. As I said… things are designed to get you in and out of Midtown efficiently, they are NOT designed for the neighborhood-to-neighborhood travel typical of teachers going to work. Note that I can get to Midtown Manhattan (20 miles) from my home with an easy 40-minute Metro-North ride; there is no faster or easier way.

    > a good replacment for parking placards for teachers and principals would be taxi reimbursement.

    So… supposing I’m a teacher in Throgs Neck, how much will two 40-minute taxi rides cost every day? That’s a LOT to pay to keep open a parking space in a residential neighborhood — one that will likely be empty anyway because the residents will be away at work.

  • Larry Littlefield

    You didn’t answer my question. As a logical extension of that the union members are entitled to, should as many spots be set aside for school employee parking as there are school employees with cars?

  • You are right that buses take far longer than they ought to. But that is a result of disastrous policy decisions that have inappropriately promoted the personal auto. By a “robust” bus network, I meant only that the buses go where the schools are. The unfortunate upshot of all that bad policy is that people using buses have to allot extra travel time.

    We need to incentivise all modes of travel other than the personal auto. Taxis constitute one such desireable alternate mode. The cost of subsidising these taxi trips could be offset by revenue generated from enforcement against the rampant lawbreaking on the parts of drivers that is observable on every street at all times of day. (Which brings us back to policy decisions.)

    And, finally, no parking spot is going to remain empty all day.

  • I did answer your question.

    The entitlement to parking placards should be removed, not extended. It should be traded for some other benefit that the City and the unions can agree upon in bargaining, for example, taxi reimbursement.

  • walks bikes drives

    Management within DOE covers those that work in the Chancellor’s office. Administrators are supervisors, not managers. The same way NYPD management starts at the Deputy Chief level and Captains and below are unionized.

    Edit: and administrators in high schools do have a teaching load. Middle school and below do not.

  • Elizabeth F

    > We need to incentivise all modes of travel other than the personal auto.

    Why??? There are certainly cases where that should be done. But a one-size-fits-all position like this is extremist. It is very difficult to build transit systems that provide efficient neighborhood-to-neighborhood transportation.

    > You are right that buses take far longer than they ought to.

    Then don’t advocate that teachers should ride them to school until they are faster. An average speed of 10mph (double current speed) would be a good start. But still slower than the 15mph I can do on my e-bike, and 20-25mph one would expect in a car.

    > The unfortunate upshot of all that bad policy is that people using buses have to allot extra travel time.

    You mean… that only people who have no other choice ride the bus. Time to legalize and promote e-bikes…

    > The cost of subsidising these taxi trips could be offset by revenue
    generated from enforcement against the rampant lawbreaking on the parts of drivers that is observable on every street at all times of day.

    You are out to lunch. That level of law enforcement and fines will never last in a democratic society. And even if such money were collected, spending it on taxis in the outer boroughs — where a regular car could do the same job at much lower cost — is ridiculous.

    > And, finally, no parking spot is going to remain empty all day.

    Absolute hogwash. The number of parking spaces and cars, is about constant from one day to the next. In the morning, cars leave parking spaces scattered all over the city, and congregate in parking spaces close to business centers and train station. In the evening, the cars disperse again.

    Outside of Manhattan and its ultra-high densities, schools tend to be situated in neighborhoods — places that empty of cars in the morning and fill back up in the evening.

  • walks bikes drives

    The DOE is forced to hand out permits by a judge. The UFT is not handing out permits. Care to revise YOUR comment now, since you now know the facts?

  • walks bikes drives

    They did. If you pick and choose what to fight and what not to fight, the city could then just amend any contract they wish and just wait to see if there will be litigation to determine whether their change will take effect. A contract is a contract and the unions have responsibility to enforce the provisions of their contracts.

  • walks bikes drives

    There will not be a change to the number of spots. Schools are allocated spots based on the size of the school – as in the building, not the staff. The curb fronting the building is the zone for parking.

  • We need to incentivise all modes of travel other than the personal auto.

    Why??? There are certainly cases where that should be done. But a one-size-fits-all position like this is extremist.

    One of those cases where that should be done is in a city, particularly in New York City.

    It is very difficult to build transit systems that provide efficient neighborhood-to-neighborhood transportation.

    No, it is not. We already have that. What we need is policies that effectuate faster travel by means of this system. Examples are exclusive dedicated bus lanes, queue-jumping bus lanes, all-door boarding, and, most important, powerful disincentives to using a private auto within the City. This would reduce congestion for all legitimate vehicles, by which I mean emergency vehicles, delivery vehicles, buses, and taxis.

    The cost of subsidising these taxi trips could be offset by revenue generated from enforcement against the rampant lawbreaking on the parts of drivers that is observable on every street at all times of day.

    You are out to lunch. That level of law enforcement and fines will never last in a democratic society.

    A functioning democratic society depends on the rule of law. Right now drivers constitute a privileged class who claim the right to ignore the law, and who in practice get away with this. The exisiting laws about speeding, stopping, and signalling are just; and drastically increased enforcement against people who choose to flout these laws is entirely reasonable. Such a policy would generate enormous revenue; and it would achieve the higher goal of promoting public safety by creating in drivers the expectation that there will be serious consequences for driving in an unsafe and illegal manner.

    And even if such money were collected, spending it on taxis in the outer boroughs — where a regular car could do the same job at much lower cost — is ridiculous.

    The problem here is that the cost of individuals choosing to drive is borne by the community. And so again we are back to bad policy. If the costs of driving were properly internalised so that they were appropriately borne by the driver, many of these people would elect other modes. We’d have less crowded roads, and we’d be able to several times more buses with greater speed. But we incentivise inefficient bad behaviour, so that’s what we get, to everyone’s detriment.

    The unfortunate upshot of all that bad policy is that people using buses have to allot extra travel time.

    You mean… that only people who have no other choice ride the bus. Time to legalize and promote e-bikes…

    I have mentioned in other conversations that I am in favour of legalising e-bikes — as motor vehichles that must be registered and whose operators must be licenced. An electric e-bike should have the same status as a gas-powered 50cc scooter, which also goes only 20 miles per hour, and which requires a motorcycle licence.

  • drosejr

    Facts are, since you didn’t bother to read the follow up article, is that the DOE chose to give out permits to teachers, they were not forced by a judge. Only union that arbitrated the decision was the principals union. The city chose to give out permits across the board, even though they didn’t have to. Those are the facts, as reported by Streetsblog.

  • Vooch

    that’s simply union urban legend hogwash. I’ve worked closely with all sorts of bargaining units for 30 some years.

    Unions routinely favour certain of their members at the expense of other of their members; contract be damned.,In this case they favored those suburban members with cars.

    I’m guessing because the leadership & stewards live in the ‘burbs and drive. The poor rank and file get the shaft again.

    Larry Littlefield is correct in his analysis.

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