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Cleaning up the Placard Abuse Mess

Placard abuse creates unsafe streets for New Yorkers because cars are parked in places meant for pedestrians and bikers. 

Currently, New York City provides the privilege of parking placards to certain public and non-profit employees and clergy, which permits them to park in otherwise restricted zones. Over 125,000 are in circulation, but the laminated placards are easily counterfeited and the system can often feel as if it is totally unregulated.

While there are several laws regulating placards, they are unevenly enforced and New Yorkers are accustomed to seeing private cars parked in space meant for other public uses. Last year, enforcement funding was cut as part of the budget agreement. The de Blasio administration has also put forth new plans to make counterfeiting placards more difficult by creating a digital system. The original plan was announced in 2019 with 2021 as the target for full implementation. That has not come close to happening.

A Yang administration will seek to finally add sanity to the placard system by endorsing new solutions put forth in the City Council and will also ensure full implementation of new technologies to cut back on placard corruption. Beyond immediate next steps, a Yang administration will also seek to reduce the number of legal placards. 

Implement the “digital sticker” system within the first year of a Yang administration.

The idea has already been piloted by the current administration, but the effort to actually implement the program has been lacking. A Yang administration will ensure that all placard owners have digital stickers by the end of 2022 so that the current laminated paper system can be fully eliminated and the stickers cannot be transferred among cars or counterfeited.

Endorse Int. 2159-2020 sponsored by Council Member Levin to provide citizen oversight of car obstructions.

The legislation would provide an outlet for New Yorkers to report unlawful parking and would also increase monetary fines. The Department of Transportation would be charged with creating a reporting mechanism. If the City’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) finds a violation in fact took place, the person who reported the violation would receive 25% of the paid fine (have at it, @placardabuse). The idea would parallel a successful program already in place where New Yorkers can report idling cars.

Fund DOT enforcement of placard violations.

In the FY2021 budget, funding was cut from both the NYPD and DOT placard enforcement unit. To better integrate with the future passage of Int. 2159 and the recent law giving DOT more power in overseeing traffic enforcement, a Yang administration will fund the DOT to enforce parking laws - and respond to citizen complaints - to ensure placards are being used appropriately. The “three-strike rule” would then actually be carried out.

Reduce placards available to City Hall staff.

A Yang administration will lead by example and cut placard privileges for City Hall staff.

Move towards a reduction of legal placards. 

Our street space can often be used for better uses than parked cars. A Yang administration will seek to reduce the number of legal placards during collective bargaining agreement negotiations and also with other entities outside of government. That will help free up space for pedestrians and bikers. For instance, a parking space or two can be replaced in front of each school and public library with bike corrals - an issue Andrew knows personally from biking with his children to school. The idea would build on past proposals to make Open Streets permanent and expand protected bike lanes.