In spite of recent enforcement measures, placard abuse remains a growing problem – especially in Lower Manhattan

CIVIC CENTER – Council Member Margaret S. Chin joined community leaders from Lower Manhattan and across the city this morning to demand greater transparency and stronger enforcement rules to curb the flagrant abuse of City-issued parking placard permits in neighborhoods grappling with growing street congestion, traffic safety issues and parking scarcity.

“Addressing placard abuse isn’t just about preserving valuable parking spaces for residents and small businesses – it’s about restoring the community’s trust in City government,” said Council Member Chin. “While the misuse of City-issued placards is on the rise, there are no clear guidelines for how many violations lead to the revocation of your placard. While the City has made some progress in bringing this issue to light, we need to remind placard abusers that placards are a privilege – not an unfettered right. I am proud to join my Council colleagues to strengthen the efforts to end placard abuse by sponsoring a bill to define clear ground rules for placard parking enforcement where little has existed before.”

Today, the Council’s Committee on Transportation heard a package of bills that address the improper and illegal usage of parking permits, which includes legislation by Council Member Chin that requires the City to immediately and permanently revoke the placard of anyone guilty of misusing a City-issued placard more than three times in a calendar year or using a fraudulent placard once. Another piece of legislation, introduced by Council Member Peter Koo, would urge transparency in the process by requiring the City to develop a comprehensive plan to define the creation and distribution of City-issued placards.

Even after Council Members pressed for more details on the City’s recent efforts on enforcement, City officials could not provide a clear number for how many placards were revoked in 2017 as a result of misuse.

“Placard abuse is a growing problem on our city streets in which many now believe their placards are a right they are entitled to, rather than a privilege to be used under very specific restrictions,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “Such misuse not only clogs our streets with illegally parked vehicles, but it also creates resentment and distrust of those authorities allowed to use the placards. The entire system needs to be clearly defined, regulated and enforced in order to curb what is tantamount to a culture of corruption.”

“No one is above the law. When parking spots reserved for local businesses and neighbors are taken up illegally it leads to more congestion, traffic safety concerns, and impacts local businesses,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “I’m proud to sponsor legislation with Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez to require the Department of Transportation to implement a citywide residential parking permit system – we need to preserve more parking for local residents, which goes hand in glove with better enforcement of regulations that serve the community. Thank you to Council Member Chin for calling on the City to do better in responding to the improper usage of placards to blatantly flout traffic rules.”

In the absence of enforcement, local groups have stepped up to shine a spotlight on the extent of the issue in their neighborhoods. In August 2014, the Chinatown Partnership conducted a survey that discovered 700 vehicles with placards occupying valuable parking spots in the Chinatown BID area.

“In these frozen Post 9/11 zones where most of the on street public parking have already been given up to all sort of official use we should not further burden the fragile community and compound the tragedy by abusing the system,” said Wellington Chen, Executive Director of the Chinatown Partnership. “Remember ‘public servants’ are meant to serve and help the public. Every space taken means that stores are deprived of multiple rounds of customers each day and the much needed critical lifeblood to sustain their livelihoods – No one should be above the law!”

“The ongoing abuse of parking placards needs to be curbed,” said Jessica Lappin, President of the Downtown Alliance. “Parking is a scarce commodity and there is no excuse for misusing placards to park illegally in front of fire hydrants or within crosswalks and creating unsafe conditions. We applaud Council Member Chin for introducing this legislation and taking aim at this intractable problem.”

“Community Board 1 shares its streets with the highest density of government offices in the city. There are more civil servants than there are legal parking spots and I know this because Battery Park City is overflowing with placarded vehicles in no standing zones, in front of schools, blocking fire hydrants and bus stops and even cross walks. This is no way to way to run a city,” said Tammy Meltzer, Chair of the Battery Park City Committee on Community Board One. “I am relieved that Councilmember Chin and the other elected officials here are stepping up to the plate to discuss this problem with the Council and the Administration, and I hope that this conversation leads to New Yorkers being able to use the streets the way they were designed and helping ensure the safety of the community by everyone following the same rules.”

“BPCA is a strong proponent of community input and collaboration, and to that end we look forward to working with Council Member Chin, DOT, NYPD, neighborhood partners, and local residents to develop a solution that promotes pedestrian safety, adequately balances competing needs for vehicle parking, and establishes a framework for consistent enforcement of parking regulations in Battery Park City,” said Nick Sbordone, Director of Public Affairs at Battery Park City Authority.

“As we close in on 20 years after 9/11 Chinatown is still inundated with vehicles that bear numerous parking placards – even though many of our streets are designated to be within the NYPD’s own ‘placard free zones,’” said Jan Lee, Civic Center Residents Coalition. “Recent efforts by our 5th precinct have shown improvement, but more can be done by City Hall. We are disappointed that Mayor De Blasio has added a staggering 50,000 placards to our City streets while permanently removing hundreds of previously public parking spaces for privately owned car sharing companies. We’re very appreciative of Council Member Margaret Chin’s continued efforts to shine a light on parking placard abuse in our area, and for her strong stance against illegal parking that impedes the safety of our residents, particularly our children and seniors. ”