A deep dive on placard abuse

Streetsblog sent a reporter out on a placard hunt this past August, having him walk the 30-square blocks between Canal, Lafayette, Chambers and West Broadway/Varick. And he hit the motherlode. Click on the map above to get a literal picture of the placards he found.

The findings in brief:

  • There were 727 placards or fake placards in the zone
  • That makes up 65 percent of all the legal parking spaces (and does not include illegal spaces, like truck loading and unloading)
  • More than 8 percent had out-of-state plates
  • Nearly 10 percent of the placards were expired

The placards broke down like this:

  • Federal law enforcement: 183 (or 25 percent)
  • NYPD: 128 (or 18 percent)
  • NYS Court placards: 70 (or 9.6 percent)
  • Department of Correction or Probation: 51 (or 7 percent)
  • Other city agencies: 59 (or 8 percent)
  • FDNY: 37 (or 5 percent)

They also ran the plates on all those cars and found an average of 12.5 tickets per car 9064 in all — including speeding tickets, speed-camera tickets and red light tickets.

It’s a mind boggling compilation of data, and while it shouldn’t shock any of us here — in fact, their study area didn’t even extend to Tribeca, where it seems every car on Reade Street has a placard — it confirms that the city has no interest in improving or controlling traffic downtown, or supporting small business downtown, which relies on open streets to make and receive deliveries and welcome shoppers. If it did, it would start towing.



  1. Thank you for reporting this. It is an example of soft corruption that impacts our quality of life.

  2. The streetsblog piece misses several important details, relating to what is a fake placard. Fake placards are those that are not issued by DOT (or NYPD).

    1. Most of the “federal law enforcement” placards are fakes, including the one pictured on the black car on White Street in the posting (from their Aug 16 twitter)

    2. The “NYPD” placard pictured on the black pickup parked on Broadway is also a fake, i.e., not issued by DOT, and it matches the fake “federal law enforcement” placard in 1. in most of the wording and fonts.

    3. The two FDNY placards shown at the top of the page are fake, i.e., not issued by DOT. They are issued by firemen’s unions, who obviously are not authorized to issue parking placards. That is typical of cars parked at neighbor firehouses.

    4. NYS Court Officers also use “union” parking placards in the neighborhood. Those are also fake.

    • @james: Streetsblog’s placard typology seems pretty clear to me:
      * “fake fakes” (the placard or card itself is not legit and the person using it may not even be eligible for a placard anyway).
      * “real fakes” (a real placard or official thing, like a badge, that is being used by someone who may or may not be eligible to use it),
      * “fake reals” (someone with a fake placard who might actually be, say, an FBI officer who doesn’t qualify for a legit placard so he made one himself)
      * “real reals” (legitimately issued placards being used by a legit placard-class member parked in a marked agency zone during the legal hours and conducting actual city business).

      • 1. That taxonomy of placards was a good start, but it did not go far enough. The balance of the post did not really clarify whether each example placard is “real” or “fake.” These are two different problems that feed on each other. Those “federal law enforcement” placards are generally all fake, even if an NSA employee parking outside the Long Lines building puts a fake “federal law enforcement” placard next to his genuine, city-issued AWM placard because almost no one knows what AWM placard parking indicates.

        1A. Abuse of “real” placards is government corruption, and the parking enforcement people, whether NYPD or mere “Traffic cops,” seem to have been intimidated by their colleagues into avoiding ticketing these vehicles.

        1B. Illegal parking using “fake” placards free-rides off of the abuse of “real” placards by taking advantage of the aversion to placard enforcement of *any* kind. Union issued placards count as “fakes.”

        2. The Streetsblog follow up should be to click through and categorize each of the photos as (a) DOT-issued, (b) NYPD-issued, (c) union-created, (d) other fake. Color code them on the map, or create 4 columns and put a clickable link to each placard photo in one of the 4 columns for the readers to view.

  3. This is not to mention the cars from the Marines recruitment on Chamber who use Greenwich Street as their own personal parking lot.

  4. thank you for this (not) astonishing report.
    i have been fuming about this for years.
    i receive $10K worth of ticket every year bc I cannot park in the truck loading zone in front of my bakery due to placarded vehicles.
    yes- i fight these tickets and approx half are dismissed, but i have to hire someone to handle this and pay those not dismissed. it’s another tax on small biz. it’s been a nightmare for years- but much worse under DeBlasio mayoralty. I hope Mayor Adams will help.

  5. It is good to know the data behind this abuse. How can we advocate for enforcement if those in charge turn a blind eye?

  6. I wonder what revenue would be generated by hauling all these vehicles away and impounding those with unpaid tickets. The city will need this revenue someday.

  7. Congestion pricing will take care of most of these fake placards. They only drive in now because they know they don’t have to pay for parking, you think they’ll pay $23 to cross into Manhattan?

    • It will take care of the fake placards maybe, but not the real placards, esp. where City employees are driving city rides and not their own personal vehicles.

  8. …and try catching a M55 on Broadway. The bus stops are impassable and impossible— blocked by illegally parked vehicles, all with placards in the windshield. Complaints to MTA prove useless.

    • 100% Agreed. There is a bus stop at corner of Broadway and Franklin and I don’t even know if it is being used. It’s right across my building and I want to catch the bus for work but don’t trust it. Horrible! Tax dollars at work…

  9. This report is both shocking, and not shocking. Every day we walk by egregious illegal parking justified by these, real or fake placards.

    Agree that congestion pricing will likely reduce their numbers… PSA – the public comment period on congestion pricing runs through today (Friday Sept. 23):


    What else can be done? Has anyone started a petition? Are neighborhood businesses banding together to let the Mayor know how much this impacts them?

  10. Blah blah blah….is there anything we can do?
    What about resident parking permits for those of us who actually pay the neighborhood taxes and ca not park in our street and have to pay another rent for the car?

    So, you live here you pay parking, you don’t live here you don’t pay parking, totally insane…is the bottom line…