When Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to crack down on the city’s much-abused parking placard system more than a year ago, he called on New Yorkers to report placard abuse to through the 311 complaint hotline.
“We’re going to invite the public to help us in this enforcement effort by putting any information either online or calling it into 311,” de Blasio said on May 24, 2017. “Our enforcement personnel will be looking for those public reports. We welcome those public reports.”
New Yorkers, however, have not flocked to 311 to report such behavior even though the issue of drivers with placards blocking crosswalks, fire hydrants or bike lanes — potentially endangering public safety — has shown little signs of abating.
There were 3,663 complaints from May 23, 2017 (when 311 added placard abuse complaints to its roster) through Aug. 6, 2018, according to an analysis from Localize.city, a website that provides insights for every address in New York City.
This represents just 1 percent of all parking-related complaints. (The No. 1 complaint is for blocked driveways, where perhaps people are more incentivized to report such complaints.)
“Although a lot of New Yorkers know that placard abuse is a problem, and City officials are trying to do something about it — including creating a new avenue for complaints through 311 — the number of official complaints are relatively small at this point,” Localize.city data scientist Michal Eisenberg said. “The hot spots reveal where residents are particularly annoyed and vocal about neighbors abusing placards as well as other parking violations.”
Only 89 cars with illegal parking placards were towed during the past year despite pervasive parking placard abuse, according to media reports in June.
The City Council is considering legislation to curb placard abuse by increasing fines for using unauthorized or illegal parking permits and for revoking permits when they’re misused. Local legislators are also calling for a comprehensive plan to distribute city-issued parking permits, a centralized electronic tracking system for the permits and NYPD reports on how many placard complaints the city receives as well as how many tickets are issued.
Below are the top specific areas for complaints about placard abuse, according to Localize.city’s analysis. To qualify as a hot spot, an area must have a complaint filed within the past six months.
- 87 complaints in Far Rockaway around the intersection of Shore Front Parkway and Beach 102 Lane
(Many of the complaints were in July)
- 86 complaints in Woodside, around 31-06 54 St.
- 75 complaints in University Heights around 2420 Sedgwick Ave. (Most of the complaints here are in the summer.)
- 37 complaints in FiDi around 59 Nassau St.
- 16 complaints in Bay Ridge around 134 73rd St.
- 15 complaints in Maspeth around 61-33 Grand Ave.
The analysis also looked at other kinds of parking complaints to see where they overlapped with the placard abuse complaints. At two of the six addresses, it was very clear that complaints about placard abuse are interchangeable with complaints about violating parking sign rules.
This was the case at the Sedgwick Avenue (101 complaints about violating parking signs) and around the Woodside address (64 complaints about violating parking signs).
“People tend to complain about placards when they see them in spots where many others also tend to park illegally,” Eisenberg said. “Or it may be that both violations are occurring simultaneously and people aren’t sure which descriptor to choose when filing their complaint: parking sign violation or placard abuse. So, the 311 category for placard abuse may be underestimated because some of the other parking complaints could also be placard abuse.”
Here are the top neighborhoods for 311 parking placard abuse complaints (per 1,000 residents).
Financial District 2.56
*University Heights 1.77
Downtown Brooklyn 1.71
Long Island City 1.68
Eight of these neighborhoods are in Manhattan and Queens, while Brooklyn and the Bronx have one each. (Note: this might overestimate for areas where there are many tourists/workers/non-residents, who also drive.)
*These neighborhoods made the top 10 because of the particular hot spots outlined above. Without those hot spots concentrated around the specific addresses, Woodside, the Rockaways and University Heights would not be on top 10 neighborhood list. The Financial District also would move down to seventh place.
Downtown Brooklyn, which is one of the most notorious areas for placard abuse, was conspicuously absent from the list of specific hot spots, but it is one of the top neighborhoods for complaints overall. With many government agencies in the area — including Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Board of Elections, Department of Education and the Brooklyn House of Detention, to name a few — many drivers in the area are known to skirt the placard rules.
“Downtown Brooklyn really is the Wild West of placard parking abuse,” Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership said at a City Council hearing in June. “Our public safety officers report parking permit abuse that is flagrant, and seemingly unmonitored and unpunished. This is one of the most persistent issues affecting our downtown — having deleterious effects on our businesses, and on the quality of life of our residents, workers, and visitors.”