Mayor de Blasio finally announced his plan to crack down on parking placard abuse by city workers — with penalties even weaker than the ones he proposed in 2017.
People who misuse their placards — by parking in bike lanes, no standing zones, in front of hydrants and in other unauthorized spots — will get three strikes before they lose their perks forever, the mayor said Thursday.
That’s an easier standard than de Blasio’s 2017 proposal, which said anyone who broke parking rules just once would have their placards yanked. Back then, he called the one-strike-and-you’re-out standard “one of the most profound consequences” of breaking placard rules.
But on Thursday, the mayor said a three-strikes rule was an “acknowledgment of the human reality,” and that even city workers who do something obviously against the rules — such as blocking a bike lane — deserve a second or even a third chance.
“Someone who is law-abiding and a good human being could actually just make a mistake in where they use a placard,” he said. “It does not have to be a venal, awful action. We want to give a little bit of flexibility.”
The biggest aspect of the mayor’s new plans for city workers’ parking privileges is phasing out the use of paper windshield placards — typically numbered and laminated — by 2021.
The city has already begun a pilot program to replace placards with stickers that carry barcodes — something the city says will make it harder to fake the placards, or to loan them to someone else.
Eventually, the city aims to attach parking privileges to license plates. That would let enforcement agents to scan cars from a distance and be told instantly if the car is legally allowed to be parked where it is. De Blasio said such a system would eliminate NYPD traffic enforcement agents’ ability to let police officers off the hook.
Cars parked illegally are supposed to be ticketed whether or not they have a placard. But watchdogs like the Twitter account @placardabuse have documented that placards usually dissuade cops and traffic agents from writing tickets. Sometimes an NYPD vest or memo book is enough to keep tickets off a car in an illegal spot.
Placard misuse is often reported around police precincts. De Blasio promised to provide cops more legal parking.
But he also admitted that it’s difficult to expect traffic agents and cops to write tickets against their NYPD colleagues. “We understand that asking people to write a ticket relating to member of their same agency is uncomfortable,” de Blasio said.
The plan does nothing to reduce the total number of placards in use in the city, which is at about 125,000. The total has ballooned under de Blasio in part because he handed out more than 30,000 placards to teachers in a labor contract settlement.
Doug Gordon, the advocate behind the pro-biking group Brooklyn Spoke, called de Blasio’s plan “underwhelming.”
“This solution doesn’t seem commensurate with the scope of the problem, the scale of the problem,” Gordon said. “There’s still just way too many placards out there, and way too many things that serve as wink-wink, don’t ticket this car to traffic enforcement agents.”
The plan also calls for boosting penalties for placard abuse. Under current rules, placard abuse carries a $50 fine. De Blasio would increase the fine to $250 — but that would require a change in state law.