In the News: Streetsblog takes on placard parking

Streetsblog — the site dedicated to improving conditions for walking, biking and transit — gave the 1st Precinct the dubious distinction of being first in the abuse of placard and illegal parking, in a run-off with Chinatown’s 5th Precinct.

I have to give it to them: they really ran a tight campaign here, recording dozens of parking violations and assembling it all into compelling slideshows. See it all here. 

This is, of course, one of the neighborhood issues everyone loves to hate — and it has eluded any kind of enforcement. At one point a couple years ago, the mayor pledged to turn placard abuse around, but during the pandemic, withdrew the funding due to budget cuts. In my mind, this is not an issue that required funding. Just yank the permits and start ticketing the rest! But agency-on-agency enforcement (or in the case of traffic cops, agency-within-agency) is clearly just asking for too much.

The report noted that in Tribeca, the problem is compounded by NYPD Transit Bureau District 2 on West Broadway, just south of Canal.

From Streetsblog: “Both the First Precinct of Tribeca and the Fifth in nearby Chinatown are obviously in it to win it, parking on sidewalks, in crosswalks, and in front of hydrants — endangering the very residents they were sworn in to protect and serve. Placard abuse and illegal parking is notoriously rampant in Lower Manhattan, where municipal employees working in city buildings attempt to get away with parking illegally simply by sticking a placard — or anything that vaguely shows their connection to city government — on their dash. And that includes New York’s Finest in the Ericsson Place station house.

“The men and women in blue have for years parked their private vehicles and squad cars on the sidewalk, and directly in front of ‘No Standing’ zones outside the station house, forcing locals to squeeze past them as they walk to and from the subway, and to and from storefronts on the same block, including a school.”





  1. When will the NYPD learn that our parks, sidewalks, bike lanes, and streets are not their parking lot? Maybe they should consider taking public transit to work 🙂.

    Also since this stretch of West Broadway isn’t even open to traffic, a public plaza would be a million times better than a parking lot.

    Bogardus Plaza shows it’s possible to make are streets better.

  2. Ive had an ongoing “battle” with the 1st precinct since they decided the front of my building is a parking lot for them. After daily 311 reports using the app, one cay I got a call from an officer askign me if i was home and to meet him downstairs (mind this was in june last year, in the pandemic)… i told him i wouldnt and that it was intimidation. So I proceeded to contact Council woman Chin’s office and was contacted by someone on her behalf. She took not of it all and said she would escalate. Months later I got an email from a Sergeant from the 1st Precinct telling me he was looking into it. For the most part they no longer park on the “No parking anytime” zone in front of my building and when they do, I email the sergeant with a pic, and the car is moved shortly after he emails back.
    Anyhow whoever becomes Mayor needs to deal with this, the amount of parking “permits” and abuse by the NYPD is insane. Council members need to do their part too and push for this to stop !
    In any case, at least the problem on my building seems a lot better.
    PS: I suggest doing the same, the more pressure we put in our neighborhood by contacting elected officials, the less inclined the NYPD will be to abuse

    • Good luck with that. If Eric Adams becomes Mayor, he will not stop anything. His staff is illegally parking all over Borough Hall in Brooklyn. When someone says something to him his only response is basically that they guy before him did it so he should be allowed to as well.

  3. If one really wanted to stop this parking abuse, pressure could be brought to bear, through complaints to the IRS by congresspeople or otherwise, to force the City of New York (“NYC”) by audit to account for use of placards (and city-owned vehicles used by employees) for commuting as taxable wages.

    This is an abuse not only by city employees, but also by NYC itself. NYC provides this fringe benefit to its employees in lieu of having to pay additional and taxable cash compensation. The abuse by NYC is why this tax-evading practice persists.

    Why should these permits not count as employer-provided parking on employed-owned land, i.e., the streets and sidewalks? (Where city employees are issued NYC-owned vehicles, mileage limits and/or GPS tracking could be used to track those vehicles to monitor who uses them in whole or in part to commute.)

    Once NYC complies (or the IRS audits) and taxes the city employee holders of these permits for their fair market value, you may see a big change to car pooling, mass transit, etc.

    NYC should be compelled to withhold tax from the permitholder’s wages in the amount of the value of the off-street reserved parking provided above the amount allowed by the IRS as a “qualified transportation fringe benefit.” (In 2021 that amount is $270 per month.) The fair market value that exceeds the qualified parking fringe benefit exclusion amount is wages and subject to FITW, FICA and FUTA. In Tribeca that could amount to taxable wages of $300 or more per month.

    NYC could also give city employees a choice to enter into a compensation reduction agreement to provide qualified transportation benefits on a pre-tax basis by offering its employees a choice between their cash compensation and a qualified transportation benefit.

    • Great idea! Thanks James! How can we get the IRS’s attention?

      • IRS Whistleblower:

        One should probably also contact one’s state senator or assemblyperson, since state approval seems to be required, as per below.

        NYC’s own Independent Budget Office: “Tax Parking Placards as a Fringe Benefit ($13 million [yearly budget impact])” “Releases Budget Options for New York City, December 2020”

        “If you qualify for one, a city-issued parking permit can be a valuable benefit of city employment, yet there is no official
        valuation placed on them. In general, Internal Revenue Service regulations state that employment compensation is
        subject to tax, including many forms of nonmonetary compensation that flows from employer to employee.
        Nonmonetary fringe benefits are supposed to be taxed at “fair market value,” the amount someone would pay in an arm’s
        length transaction to buy the benefit. Recognizing placards as a fringe benefit, which would require state approval, would
        enable them to be subject to city income tax.

        “Using the estimated going rate of counterfeit placard sales and factoring in a premium that a legal placard would
        presumably command, the fair market value of a placard is about $4,000. With the number of parking permits currently
        authorized, the total value of outstanding placards is over $500 million. Taxing the value of these placards as income
        would yield considerable revenue for the city. Even if 25 percent of recipients forgo their placard rather than pay tax on
        the benefit, the city would generate an estimated $13.1 million in new city tax revenue. If the state chose to recognize
        parking placards as a form of compensation city employees would also see an increase in their state income tax liability.”

  4. NYPD are not the only placard abusers. The Marine headquarters on Chambers use placards as the opportunity to have their personal cars parked illegally on Greenwich and sit unmoved for weeks at a time.

  5. While we are at it, can we do something about all the Building Department cars that are parking in the neighborhood?

  6. The only path to curbing placard abuse is by building and exerting sufficient political power to force the next mayor to act. Barring that, all these well-meaning comments are just fist-shaking at clouds. (That goes even for @james’ sophisticated but well-trod suggestion to go the IRS route.)

    That means joining “livable-streets” groups like Trans Alt, Riders Alliance and others that have placard abuse on their radar and amplifying their political muscle. Venting may feel good but to accomplish something it has to be married to organized political action.

    • I agree. the only way to stop or at least curb this is to elect a Mayor ready to take this issue seriously…

    • i agree with Komanoff- politcal action will get results.
      Here’s my 2 cents worth of complaining: Because of Placard abuse on my block of Duane St by NYPD, DOT, Dept of Buildings, i often cannot find a legit space for my truck to load and unload. there is commercial parking on Duane Street, but the spaces are filled many days , all day long, with vehicles with a permit.. the result for me is $6K + tickets each year. for parking somewhere else. it’s like another tax for a small business.

      • No politician has any motivation to do anything about placard abuse, primarily because it helps the City budget two ways: (i) by being cost-free compensation in lieu of additional cash wages to city employees and (ii) by being a revenue raiser in parking tickets issued to civilians and taxes from parking lot / garage revenue.

        • @James, too clever by half, esp’ly about the revenue-raiser? IMO it’s simply that pressure from citizens to end placard abuse hasn’t risen to the point that the mayor can’t afford to keep the status quo. Ditto, our Councilmember. Are *you* interrogating candidates as to how hard they’ll work to overturn placard abuse? I’d like to say I am, but TBH I’m expending my meager influence on defending / preserving congestion pricing.

  7. I used to work (and was close friends) with a woman who was a daughter of a cop in a very high position. She had a placard in HER car (she lived outside of the city) and whenever she would visit the city she pretty much parked wherever she wanted to.

    Also, as you may recall Walker’s Bar was made to disassemble their original outside seating hut on Varick St. in the fall because it blocked the bus stop (why the city wouldn’t allow the bus stop to be moved slightly to allow a long time local restaurant to make a living during the crisis is whole other story) now as I walk by with my dogs I just see police cars and cars with placards parked in that very spot.

  8. While we are at it can we please open back up the exit from the Holland Tunnel that runs through Ericcson Place. The First Precinct closed this exit during the protests and it has remained so. This causes a traffic jam on West Broadway as all of the cars traveling to Brooklyn must exit onto the Lower Manhattan lanes. It unnecessarily inconveniences thousands of people on a daily basis. Why is this not re-opened? If safety is the issue, concrete barriers can be placed in from of the precinct.

  9. Im always amazed that the cars that say protect and serve are then parked in a manner that create harm and risk.

  10. Does anyone know what has become of the multi-story municipal parking garage next door to Police Headquarters closed on 9/11 to the public, never to reopen again?

  11. obviously the solution I see is build more Parking garages.

    Provide more off street parking. People who Travel from areas

    with no mass transit are not using mass transit.

    Also while no one who resides in Downtown gets special

    treatment . Government employee get Placard perc.

    Just a fact of life in the Apple.

    • Perry’s is ONLY response that could/can solve the problem.

    • If we accepted things as “just a fact of life in the big apple,” we’d be living in pretty dark times. What a poor reason to continue with something that siphons money from the public coffers and daily endangers residents’ lives. I thought city employees (including NYPD and FDNY) were required to live in the 5 boroughs or a limited number of other NY counties (Nassau, Westchester, Suffolk, Rockland, Orange or Putnam). Since when is there no public transportation in any of those locations?

  12. Low-level pervasive corruption erodes the public’s trust in the agencies that are created to keep us safe. This article is deceptive in that it highlights placard abuse by NYPD. The reality is that all city agencies are guilty of placard abuse. And once you see it, you’ll see it everywhere, in every neighborhood, anytime you go anywhere. FDNY is notorious for this. DOT, Sanitation, all of them do it.

    Blind defenders of law enforcement will say “this is not a big deal, just go around,” but the reality is that it is a big deal and is not happening just here or there. It’s all over the city and there are tens of thousands of public employees. How many police precincts are there? And firehouses? All of them are surrounded by illegally parked personal vehicles, blocking sidewalks (ADA anyone?) and bike lanes and making the city unsafe for the tax payers who are responsible for their salaries.

    I appreciate that these employees have difficult jobs. So do nurses and social workers and millions of other people. What if all of them decided to print out a little piece of paper that said, for example, “Official Nurse business,” put it on their dashboard and park on the sidewalk in front of their hospital? I’m guessing they’d get a fine or towed and then next time they would look for legal parking. Or, better yet, do what the rest of us New Yorkers do: Take public transportation!