At Long Last, Placard Reform

Now that we’ve established why placard abuse and related violations are a problem, here’s yesterday’s announcement from the Mayor’s Office (minus the organ music, quotes, etc.). If I can get a response from @Placardabuse, I’ll add it here. UPDATE 5/26: See @Placardabuse’s response at the end.

The City is committed to reducing the improper and fraudulent use of parking placards across the five boroughs, particularly in civic centers where public employee workplaces are clustered and around schools, where school employees with new parking placards will be competing for a limited set of authorized parking spaces.

Effective immediately, New York City will:

Implement Strict Controls for New DOE Parking Placards.

This month, to resolve an outstanding dispute, the DOE issued 50,000 new parking placards for school employees working at schools with designated street space. The DOE will be implementing strict new controls for parking placards to minimize illegal or improper parking behavior.

New DOE Placard Unit: DOE will create a new office responsible for issuing placards annually and auditing schools for proper accounting of the placards. This unit will also receive complaints and take disciplinary action against staff for placard abuse.

Tight restrictions on DOE staff placard use: All placards will only be authorized for clearly designated DOE parking spots at specific schools during school hours. The license plate of the vehicle, name of the permit holder and authorized signature will all be clearly displayed and visible for inspection. Placards will be non-transferrable under any circumstance.

Tough penalties: Any placard found to be misused, fraudulent, copied or altered will result in the placard holder being subject to discipline in addition to placard revocation and permanent ineligibility for placards. Cars using placards improperly will be subject to towing and additional towing capacity will be available to tow vehicles using placards illegally. These rules will be shared with and signed-for by all DOE employees receiving the new placards.

Pursue Tough New Enforcement Actions to Crack Down on Placard Fraud and Abuse Across All City Agencies.

DOT and NYPD will pursue new enforcement actions to crack down on placard forgery/counterfeiting and abuse across all City agencies, including creating a new anti-placard-fraud unit at NYPD. As DOT proceeds with its annual re-issuance of placards, the agency will continue to identify ways to incorporate enhanced anti-forgery protections.

New, empowered unit focused on public integrity in parking privileges: The NYPD will create a dedicated unit that reports to the Chief of Department that will consist of 16 dedicated enforcement personnel in the Transportation Bureau Citywide Task Force to identify counterfeit placards and misuse at hotspots in every borough.

Additional 100 Traffic Enforcement Agents for placard enforcement citywide: The NYPD will hire an additional hundred traffic agents for deployment citywide.

Create new anti-placard enforcement imperative among Borough Investigation Units: The City will task Borough Investigation Units (approximately 100 officers across all five boroughs) to identify placard abuse and unauthorized use in local boroughs around precincts, courthouses and government buildings.

New Towing Capacity: The City will add additional towing capacity to tow vehicles that are using placards fraudulently or illegally.

New sanctions and penalties for placard fraud or abuse: Any placard found to be misused, fraudulent, copied or altered will result in the placard holder being subject to permanent ineligibility for placards. City employees found abusing placards will be turned over to DOI for investigation. As noted, all placards will be re-issued annually.

New penalties for fraudulent usage: The City will create a new parking fine for the misuse of placards, punishable by a fine of up to $100, which is in addition to the parking violation. Employees are currently subject to disciplinary action for placard fraud or abuse. Disciplinary action may include placard revocation, permanent ineligibility for parking privileges, discipline, suspension, or termination.

Lay The Groundwork for Long-Term Technological Solutions.

DOT will explore development of a unified system for management, enforcement and tracking of both placards and metered parking payments tied to license plate numbers. Best practices in cities across the world include license plate reader technology that can scan all vehicles on a block for paid parking sessions or legal parking permits and automatically generate appropriate violations if necessary. Such a system would provide an added measure of fraud prevention and allow for greater efficiency in enforcement by allowing agents to cover more ground.

In order to help spread the word on the heightened rules and regulations concerning placard usage, the City will launch a public awareness campaign to help educate City employees. The campaign will reinforce the City’s zero tolerance for placard and fraud abuse and the associated penalties for engaging in such behavior, including towing, new fines and permanent revocation of parking privileges. It will also encourage members of the public who observe parking placard violations to call 311 to report them.

Photo by Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photo Office.

Here’s @Placardabuse’s response:

We don’t see the need for additional staff. There is ample coverage; existing Traffic Enforcement Agents and Integrity Control Officers need to be given clear orders to issue summonses honestly and fairly in accordance with the law, and fully supported and protected when they do. Any harassment or retaliation needs to be dealt with firmly and decisively.

Unfortunately, we are skeptical this is designed to play to the news cycle, and possibly ride out an election, before returning to business as usual. We have heard promises of crackdowns before, and there is no evidence yet they are even trying to get this one started. Failing to clear the placard corruption in the area around the press conference does not suggest they are really taking it serious even for initial appearances, and we observed the regulars we have been featuring routinely in their normal places again today.

Creating dedicated resources creates the situation where complaints aren’t addressed because they didn’t have the “right” people because they “can’t be everywhere at once.” It also makes it easier to roll back later, citing things like “priorities.”

What is needed is a change in culture and consistent accountability from the people on top. That’s why we are so disturbed to hear the Chief of Department will be heading this up. The last time he was in the Bronx with de Blasio was for a Town Hall meeting, where he answered a question about placard corruption by reassuring the house audience that they have good controls in place and people who misuse placards are disciplined, which obviously had no element of truth whatsoever.



  1. Adding 100+ officers to deal with this minor (albeit annoying) issue seems like a giant waste of our tax dollars.

    • Not when placard abuse creates dangerous situations – like near my apartment. Placard abusers consistently park in the bus stop, and I have watched people getting off the bus just miss getting hit by cars because they are dropped off in the middle of the street. These abusers are lazy – even when there are numerous spots available, they continue to park in the bus stop and by hydrants because it is more convenient for them.

  2. since the police are the most blatant placard abusers, i’m skeptical that the nypd is going to ticket their fellow officers for this offense.

    • Would be great if they had a twitter handle where you could officially file picture reports showing such abuses