One Way to End the Abuse of Parking Placards

If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that parking placards are widely abused around here. Even if you haven’t personally been frustrated by the lack of available parking, just by walking around, you can see plenty of cars parked where they’re not supposed to, using various city permits as protection.

Bowery Boogie (h/t TribecaMom) reports that Chinatown residents have persuaded the NYPD’s 5th Precinct to actually do something about it. The website includes this quote from neighborhood activist Karlin Chan: “The 5th pct has declared Mott from Canal to Chatham sq, Bayard from Mulberry to Bowery, Mulberry St from Worth to Canal a ‘placard/permit free’ zone. The action started 2 weeks ago when flyers were placed on placard parked cars to notify the drivers. […] They will start ticketing & towing cars in future.”

Chan claims that Chinatown has experienced fewer visitors because parking is so difficult, when I can think of other reasons, but whatever—the point is that something can, in fact, be done about a problem that many of us thought would require the effort of city politicians, who are generally loathe to confront the people who use these permits. As for how to make the 1st Precinct take action, James suggested that someone tweet it to them, but I assure you that will achieve nothing. There are no signs that anyone there actually listens to incoming tweets. The best option is to show up en masse at the 1st Precinct Community Council meeting, but someone needs to organize that. (And one possible hurdle is that many of the questionable permits around here are related to the NYPD; see below.) The next options are to ask Community Board 1 to press the 1st Precinct about it and/or to make city councilmember Margaret Chin—who is up for re-election—understand that this is a problem that she needs to address.



  1. 100% agree with the observations made here. The amount of cars with these placards is insane and nobody can credibly convince us that they’re all on official business. More importantly, it further erodes the respect we ought to have for law enforcement.

    • They’re on “official business” every day at the same spot, nowhere near any police or government office. They park in loading zones forcing delivery vehicles to double park, which is the #1 cause of traffic congestion. They make up a huge proportion of the total parked cars in the neighborhood.

      • In a one-day, weekday survey of the Civic Center area (an area of Broadway to West Broadway, Franklin to Reade; plus Duane and Reade extending to Centre) in 2010, 244 government parking permits were found in use.

        Only 5% (11) were genuine permits used legally.
        95% (233) were genuine permits used to park illegally–58% (141)–or bogus permits–38% (92).

        The 92 Bogus permits break down thusly:

        41% Union;
        19% Fake;
        16% Expired;
        12% Xeroxed; and,
        12% Personal effects masquerading as permits (including but not limited to transit vests, patrol manuals and even a sheet of paper scrawled with the letters “NYPD.”)

        The study notes:

        “Why is illegal parking so common among permit holders? The evidence suggests that there are too many cars for too few spaces. According to a Lower Manhattan parking study by the DOT and the New York City Economic Development Corporation, ‘vehicles with law enforcement permits use 127 percent more space hours than are designated for them from 9AM-5PM.’ A Schaller Consulting study,
        Top 10 Drive-To-Work Census Tracts in Manhattan, found that ‘government workers are twice-as-likely to drive to work than private sector workers.’ With so few parking spaces available and an incentive to drive to work, permit users double-park or leave their cars blocking fire hydrants, sidewalks, bus lanes or at un-fed meters.”

  2. Not to mention the blocks cordoned off around Police Plaza used for free parking. Somehow, the LA police see no need for barricades. See their open and inviting headquarters building: