Placard crackdown — can it work?

The Brooklyn Paper / Jeff Bachner

Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to crack down on government workers who abuse their parking privileges will only succeed in Downtown Brooklyn if the NYPD makes good on its promise to ticket illegally parked permit-bearing cars, experts say.

The Bloomberg administration pledged last week to reduce the number of city-issued placards by 20 percent, but that promise could mean little in Downtown Brooklyn, the epicenter of illegal placard parking in the borough, because most cars parked in “No Standing” zones typically have permits issued by state or federal agencies.

“It’s not the number of city permits that is the problem,” said Wiley Norvell, a spokesmen for Transportation Alternatives. “The problem has always been [that] permit abuse has never been subject to police enforcement.”

A Brooklyn Paper investigation revealed the truth behind Norvell’s comment. On Friday, a reporter went to Jay Street between Tillary and Willoughby streets and spotted a dozen cars, all displaying placards and all parked illegally. None of them got tickets.

The majority of those vehicles had placards issued by the New York State Courts. Others had permits marked “Federal Law Enforcement.” One of the illegally parked cars had no permit, but a state Corrections ID card on the dashboard. Another parking scofflaw presented a New York State Fraternal Order of Police membership card and a Suffolk County Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association card — but no permit.

When Bloomberg made his announcement last week, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly promised that drivers who parked illegally would be punished.

Norvell said such enforcement would be welcome.

“What this comes down to is police giving tickets and commanders at the precincts standing by those tickets,” he said. “Now that they have word from One Police Plaza that parking abuse shouldn’t be tolerated, we should see a reduction in abuse.”

Downtown isn’t the only neighborhood crying out for relief. Judy Stanton, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, says parking permit abuse remains rampant in her neighborhood.

“Mayor Bloomberg and police officials are frequently quoted in the news as saying that they don’t tolerate parking placard abuse, but that’s hot air,” Stanton said. “What I see is city cars with placards parking anywhere they please.”

Stanton said that asking the NYPD to ticket other cops is like having the fox guarding the chicken coop.

“I think that enforcement should be given back to the Department of Transportation,” she said. “You can’t count on the police to ticket other police or judges or anyone else in law enforcement.”

The city has issued at least 70,000 placards to its employees, but acknowledges that there are probably thousands more out there because it has allowed each agency to issue permits without keeping track. Bloomberg says that the power to issue permits will now rest only with the NYPD and the Department of Transportation.

The Brooklyn Paper / Jeff Bachner

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