Everyone knows New York City is a traffic nightmare. The growing number of illegally parked cars is making crowded streets even worse. It’s all thanks to city-issued parking placards that government employees abuse to park on sidewalks, crosswalks, bus lanes, and bike lanes.
While the placards don’t permit drivers to park in illegal zones, the NYPD is often hesitant to deliver tickets to government employees. And these bad actors will do anything to try and get out of a ticket – even if they don’t have a placard. There have been reports of government employees leaving branded paraphernalia such as hats or notebooks on their car’s dashboard. Some even leave handwritten notes detailing their place of employment.
Others have taken more extreme measures to avoid hefty tickets. The New York Times reported that some drivers are using fake parking placards. The high demand has created a black market for fake documentation, where look-a-like placards can be bought for $500 to $2,600.
In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to “crack down” on parking placard abuse. The Mayor created a new Placard Fraud Enforcement Unit within the NYPD and hired 100 additional traffic enforcement agents. Nearly two years later, New Yorkers still aren’t seeing results.
Today, there are about 150,000 parking placards in use throughout New York City. Some City Councilmembers are so fed up with the rampant abuse they have introduced legislation that would include mandating a number of enforcement blitzes each week and “creating a standard application process” for city-issued permits.
Not to be outdone, de Blasio finally admitted there was a problem and released his own plan to combat the misuse of placards. The cornerstone of his proposal is an online database that will replace physical decals to prevent transferring placards between cars, although that won’t go into effect until 2021. The Mayor’s new enforcement plan also includes implementing a steep increase in fines and a strict three-strike policy for misusing a placard.
New Yorkers should be cautiously optimistic of this new plan. City residents have heard these same empty promises before. If the Mayor is serious about clearing New York’s streets, he should ensure these new rules are enforced by city employees.
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Photo credit from Kevin Case