010408parking.jpgMayor Bloomberg has announced that the city will crackdown on the abuse of parking permits issued to civil servants, reducing the overall number by 20%. The change comes after the Post revealed in November that “149 separate government entities had qualified for the coveted placards last year, ranging from the state lottery to the US Navy recruiting office, which was allocated an astonishing 110 permits.”

In fact, so many agencies produce and distribute the parking placards that the city has no idea how many are out there! The mayor's office guesstimates 70,000, but Transportation Alternatives, who run a website that posts photos of illegally parked cars with permits, says 150,000 is more like it because of all the counterfeit and expired placards out there.

A study conducted by Transportation Alternatives last year found that three-fourths of the permits are used illegally, with drivers blocking “fire hydrants, bus stops, crosswalks”, and even parking on sidewalks! Speaking to the Post and the Sun, Wiley Norvell of Transportation Alternatives sounded victorious:

This is huge. The 20 percent figure is substantial. This is really taking a whack at bad government and the culture of entitlement that developed around these permits. Government workers commute at twice the rate of everyone else because they have free parking at the other end, in the form of one of these placards.

The new plan, intended to cut congestion and pollution as well as corruption, goes like this:

  • Every city agency is to conduct an inventory of its permits and reduce them by 20%. This would eliminate roughly 14,000.
  • They must stop issuing new ones as of March 1st. (Less than eight weeks to call in a favor to your buddy at the Navy recruiting office.)
  • As of March 1st only the Police Department and the Department of Transportation will have the authority to issue the coveted parking placards.
  • A multi-agency working group will implement and coordinate the various measures.
  • The NYPD will create a new enforcement unit to ensure compliance and agencies will develop enforcement procedures to prevent the abuse of placards.

And the much-maligned parking privileges for cops at local precincts are will also be reduced, according to mayoral decree. But who will police the police? Streetsblog cuts to the heart of the matter with a telling pull quote from one anonymous cop at NYPD Rant:

"if the city yanks our plaques, then the war is on. the pba can have some printed for its members, active and retired, and i will bang out every car with official plates that is illegally parked or runs a light (the offenders can explain themselves in front of an administrative judge at AAB or parking violations bureau)....JUST WAIT AND SEE."

What do you think? Good news for congestion or an overly-zealous attack on the public trough to which our civil servants have grown so accustomed?

Photo of a Postal Service employee's vehicle parked on the sidewalk via Uncivil Servants.