CYCLE OF RAGE: The Car that Never Moves Yet Endangers Pedestrians (And is of No Concern to the NYPD)

Will this abandoned car on Ocean Parkway ever be removed? Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
Will this abandoned car on Ocean Parkway ever be removed? Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

I had to see it for myself.

A tipster had told me that there was a broken-down car in a “No Standing” zone on the Ocean Parkway service road with an NYPD vest on its dashboard — a car that had not moved since July, 2020, and possibly longer — yet had accumulated just two parking tickets, despite the passage of at least 664 days and 31 complaints to 311 about the illegal parking and abandonment.

I rushed right over and not only found that a “No Standing” zone created to add daylighting was instead creating an extremely dangerous situation — and I also got a reminder of just how little the NYPD cars about safety.

First things first, I reported the car to 311 as illegally parked in a clearly marked “No Standing” zone just south of Newark Avenue in front of 715 Ocean Parkway. Then I cased the joint. The car is clearly abandoned: There are weeds underneath, all four tires are deflated, the front bumper has been ripped off and there was the faintest remnant of a note on the windshield that was long ago worn away from weather.

The registration expired on Feb. 10, 2020. And there is an NYPD safety vest on the dashboard.

That safety vest provides a lot of the intrigue.

This is back in November, 2020. Photo: Google
This is back in November, 2020. Photo: Google

City records show that the car was ticketed on July 17, 2020 for being parked in the “No Standing” zone (that ticket has been paid, city records show). After that, people made 25 complaints to 311 over the next year and a half — not a single one of which resulted in a ticket, even though an archival photo from Google (right) shows that the car has not moved since at least November, 2020.

Here’s how the Police Department handled those 29 complaints to 311:

  • “responded to the complaint and determined that police action was not necessary”: five times.
  • “responded to the complaint and observed no evidence of the violation”: four times.
  • “responded and upon arrival those responsible for the condition were gone”: four times.
  • “issued a summons in response to the complaint”: eight times.
  • “responded to the complaint and took action to fix the condition”: one time.

But city records show that all 22 of those resolutions were not true. The car was never ticketed, though action was definitely warranted due to the illegal parking. (Three times, the NYPD said it “provided additional information” to the 311 complainant, but the city’s 311 database does not indicate what that information might be.)

Finally, independent of those 311 calls, the car got another illegal parking ticket on Nov. 3, 2021. That ticket remains unpaid.

After that ticket was issued, New Yorkers placed six more 311 complaints against the car — all for being abandoned with plates, which falls under NYPD jurisdiction (as opposed to cars that do not have plates, which are handled by the Sanitation Department).

Here’s how the Police Department handled those six complaints to 311:

  • “The Police Department responded to the complaint and with the information available observed no evidence of the violation”: two times.
  • “This complaint does not fall under the Police Department’s jurisdiction”: two times.
  • “The Police Department responded to the complaint and determined that police action was not necessary”: one time.
  • “The Police Department responded to the complaint and took action to fix the condition”: one time.

All of those were a lie, too. And that’s not much of a surprise. As Streetsblog reported last year, the NYPD routinely ignores 311 service requests about parking or vehicular recklessness — and then frequently lies about the actions it allegedly took in response. That seems to be the pattern with this one abandoned car on Ocean Parkway, too.

Finally, on April 26, an officer named Vargas slipped two tickets on the car’s windshield: a $115 ticket for illegal parking and a $65 ticket for expired registration. Neither of these tickets were in response to a specific open 311 complaint.

Those tickets were on the windshield when I showed up on Wednesday, April 27, at around 11:30 a.m. I fired up the 311 app twice: first to report both the abandoned car and then to report the illegal parking. Both complaints were closed within a half hour with the same message from New York’s Finest: “The Police Department responded to the complaint and took action to fix the condition.”

This was also a lie, as the windshield still had only the two tickets Vargas had placed there a day earlier. (It’s worth noting that there was another car illegally parked in the “No Standing” zone — this one a big SUV with a 70th Precinct placard in the windshield. This one was not only blocking the daylight corner, but also blocking a ramp for seniors and parents pushing strollers, which is a pretty major fuck you to the neighbors from an officer whose stationhouse is a mere block to the west.)

The abandoned car (black) and the illegally parked police officer's car (white) in a "No Standing" zone make it difficult for turning drivers to see other cars. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman
The abandoned car (black) and the illegally parked police officer’s car (white) in a “No Standing” zone make it difficult for turning drivers to see other cars. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

It’s unlikely that the abandoned Honda Civic actually belongs to a police officer or NYPD employee because its owner would likely need it (or would certainly have used it at least a few times since July, 2020). More likely, it was a car seized by the NYPD as evidence in a crime or crash (hence the NYPD vest) and then simply left there. As Streetsblog has previously reported, many junked cars end up around precinct houses awaiting disposal by the NYPD, which has a limited number of tow trucks.

But two years?!

Residents of the area — at least those who have noticed the abandoned car — basically shrugged when I asked them about the eyesore.

“If it was my car, it would have been towed years ago,” said one man, walking his dog and declining to give his name because of the proximity of the 70th Precinct stationhouse. “But you see the NYPD vest on the dashboard, so there you go.”

I asked the NYPD to comment, but the agency declined. I’ll update this story if someone gets back to me.

Gersh Kuntzman is the editor of Streetsblog. When he gets angry, he writes a Cycle of Rage column, all of which are archived here.

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