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If de Blasio Was Serious About Ending Placard Abuse, This Serial Parking Violator Would Have Stopped By Now

The illegally parked blue Mini has a ticket on the windshield. The illegally parked city-owned Prius, sporting a Human Resources Administration placard on the dashboard, does not.

Here's more evidence that Mayor de Blasio's "crackdown" on placard abuse by city employees hasn't made a difference.

In October Streetsblog reported that placard-holders were blocking sight lines at a freshly striped crosswalk on Seaman Avenue at W. 214th Street in Inwood. The crosswalk is adjacent to a new no standing zone that was intended to make it easier for drivers and people crossing the street to see each other, but was quickly commandeered by city workers who often left vehicles there overnight.

One of those people was a Human Resources Administration employee in a city-owned Prius who treated the daylighting zone like a reserved spot until Streetsblog queried the agency about the staffer's illegal parking habits.

Early weekday morning on Park Terrace West …
Early weekday morning on Park Terrace West.
Early weekday morning on Park Terrace West …

"We expect HRA employees that have City cars assigned to them to adhere to all parking rules and regulations," HRA spokesperson Lourdes Centeno told Streetsblog in an email. "We have investigated the matter and instructed the employee to park the vehicle in designated parking areas.”

If, as Centeno said, this HRA staffer was told to stop abusing his or her placard, it didn't take. While the Prius hasn't been spotted lately in the crosswalk at Seaman and 214 -- clearing the space for other placard abusers -- on any given day the car can be found in other nearby no parking zones.

… and another.
Same spot, different day.
… and another.

After Streetsblog broke the story last spring that de Blasio had reversed Bloomberg-era reforms by reissuing tens of thousands of placards to teachers and other Department of Education employees, the mayor promised to rein in permit abuse.

“I remind anyone who thinks that they can be cute and use one of these placards in an inappropriate way: You’re really running the risk of very big penalties and there will be consistent enforcement,” de Blasio said in May.

Switching it up: A beautiful Saturday on Seaman Avenue at Isham Street, at a no-parking zone by the entrance to Inwood Hill Park, where the car is sometimes stowed for days at a time.
Switching it up: A beautiful Saturday on Seaman Avenue at Isham Street, at the entrance to Inwood Hill Park.

Consistent NYPD enforcement has not materialized in the seven months since de Blasio announced his crackdown, however.

The problem, of course, is far more pervasive than a single HRA staffer. Police and purported friends of police remain the biggest abusers of placards, both official and fake.

But this case nicely illustrates the limits of de Blasio's crackdown. A placard abuser can be publicly shamed into abandoning an illegal parking spot, but the same vehicle owner will keep using the perk illegally somewhere else. Meanwhile, other placard abusers fill the vacuum at the first illegal spot. NYPD isn't going to stop them, and city agencies aren't policing their own either. Without real enforcement and a reduction in placards, it's just whack-a-mole.

Last week we sent Centeno multiple photos of the HRA Prius parked illegally on Seaman Avenue and one block east on Park Terrace West. We asked who is responsible for making sure HRA employees do not abuse their city parking permits. Centeno did not respond.

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