Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In

FOIL’ED AGAIN! DOT Does Not Want the Public to See its Placard Abuse Enforcement Guide

12:01 AM EST on February 15, 2021

Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to curtail placard corruption all have failed ignominiously.

Placard abuse watchdogs are calling out the Department of Transportation for refusing to hand over its patrol guide on parking permits, which would help the public discern fake placards from real ones.

The prolific Twitter account Placard Abuse tried to obtain DOT’s Enforcement Guide on parking permits — which it created collaboratively with the NYPD — through a Freedom of Information Law request back in June. But last week, DOT denied the request, saying that the disclosure would “interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings."

And the watchdogs are now appealing the rejection, calling it a “bogus” obfuscation of public documents that only continues to protect those who abuse their power by parking illegally on city streets, including in crosswalks and bike lanes, on sidewalks, and in front of fire hydrants.

“We believe DOT is illegally withholding information from the public that would allow New Yorkers to help root out the corruption on our streets,” Placard Abuse said in a statement.

Placard Abuse — a group whose members require anonymity because of prior harassment by the NYPD — says an accessible guide would help the public discern whether a permit is real or not, though in many cases, it’s quite obviously fake, like when a city employee merely throws a yellow work vest on the dashboard.

“People are always asking how they can tell if something is a real placard. An easy guide would be helpful for the public,” said the people behind the Twitter account, @placardabuse.

DOT did not respond to a request for comment, but it’s clear that such a guide does exist. DOT’s Deputy Commissioner of Traffic Operations Josh Benson testified at a Council hearing in 2018 that a so-called enforcement guide helps the NYPD's Traffic Enforcement Agents distinguish between real and fake placards when out on patrol.

“We produced an Enforcement Guide, and this is what it looks like and it goes in the Summons Book of traffic enforcement agent, and it walks them through all of the different placards, which ones are valid, where they’re valid, and it helps them identify fraudulent placards," said Benson.

And advocates said the rejection of request to release the guide is even more damning after DOT came out swinging against Brooklyn Council Member Stephen Levin and Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s legislation that would allow anyone to report illegal parking, including illegal parking undertaken with a city-issued placard — and in turn take home some cash.

“Taken together with DOT's recent testimony against [the] bill, there seems to be a clear policy of keeping power in the hands of the placard class, where they can shield themselves from any consequences for their corruption,” said Placard Abuse.

Then-acting DOT Commissioner Margaret Forgione said the de Blasio administration is “opposed” to the citizen enforcement program out of concern that people would beat up neighbors who reported their illegal parking to authorities — even though the public reporting element is modeled on an existing city program to combat idling.

The city even commissioned rock legend Billy Idol to participate in the #BillyNeverIdles campaign and encourage the public to report idling scofflaws.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Friday’s Headlines: Yes He Said Yes He Will Yes Edition

That headline above is a reference to the last line of James Joyce's Ulysses, which we won't pretend to have read. But we have that ... and other news.

September 22, 2023

Madness: Port Authority Will Spend $8M to ‘Study’ Widening Outerbridge Crossing

Will this $8.3 million find out anything we don't know about induced demand?

September 22, 2023

Study: How Low-Income People Really Use Micromobility

Shared bikes and scooters are meeting low-income people's basic mobility needs — but they're not being subsidized like it.

September 22, 2023

School Bus Driver Hits Cyclist, Injures 3, On Major Brooklyn School Bike Route

The crash happened on the route of the weekly Bergen bike bus.

September 21, 2023

City of Yes Yes Yes! Adams Calls for Elimination of Parking Mandates on ALL New Housing

Mayor Adams today announced the historic end to one of the city’s most antiquated — and despised — zoning laws requiring the construction of parking with every new development.

September 21, 2023
See all posts