Yang, Adams feud over placard abuse

Mayoral candidate Andrew Yang.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang rolled out a plan to combat placard abuse on Thursday, while taking a not-so-subtle dig at his rival, Borough President Eric Adams. 

The eccentric candidate promised to crack down on illegal parking during a press conference at Cadman Plaza — where the Beep has been criticized for printing parking placards that allow his employees to leave their private vehicles in the park. The practice of placard abuse has long been a topic of ire among transit advocates, who bemoan city workers using the signs to park in illegal spots — such as fire hydrants, bike lanes, bus stops, and more — without receiving a ticket. 

“I’m not the only New Yorker who has run into an illegally parked car, or a car that is parked inappropriately,” Yang said, “because, at this point, placards are being distributed so broadly and being used for either official or unofficial purposes that they’re actually causing inconvenience and even hazards for many, many New Yorkers.”

Yang’s proposal mirrors a stalled one from Mayor Bill de Blasio which would have addressed the placard abuse his administration has allowed by creating a system of digital placards that can be scanned by enforcement agents, and restoring funding to the Department of Transportation to bring enforcement back into their wheelhouse.

Though he used Adams’ office — where several NYPD vehicles were parked on the sidewalk for an event at Borough Hall — as a backdrop, Yang did not directly name the sitting borough president during the press conference. The location, he told reporters, was chosen out of support for a bill by Councilmember Steve Levin which would allow citizens to report illegal parking and earn a cut of the fine.

But that didn’t stop the Adams campaign from attacking Yang, and accusing him of being out of touch with the city’s most serious issues.

Borough President Eric Adams addresses the crowd at a Sept. 3 meeting on placard abuse.File photo by Kevin Duggan

“Five-year-old and twelve-year-old children are being shot in our streets — and Andrew Yang is focused on double parking,” said campaign spokesperson Madia Coleman in a statement. “Maybe double parking is the big crime problem in New Paltz, but not in New York.”

Yang shot back that he could work to solve more than one problem at a time.

“I think about what’s happening to families in New York all the time, particularly to victims of violent crime,” he said. “I think New Yorkers sense that we have the capacity to do multiple things at once.”

The Adams administration made headlines for placard abuse in 2019 after the Beep responded to an anonymous twitter critic by comparing them to a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Adams then hosted a public meeting at Borough Hall, where he refused to stop allowing sidewalk parking, arguing it would be an unfair double standard. 

“I fought my entire life to make sure men that look like me don’t have different rules than anyone else,” Adams said at the time. “There’s one rule in this city, there’s not going to be a rule just for Eric Adams, the first African-American borough president.”