030608parking.jpgTurns out the number parking placards sloshing around New York is over 142,000, twice the number guesstimated by Mayor Bloomberg’s office when he announced a 20% cutback on the placards, which allow police, teachers and civil servants to park for free at meters and many off-limits areas. The new total does not take into consideration the number of counterfeit and expired placards, and the city is still not done counting, so this preliminary total is expected to increase even as they try to decrease it!

Also, don’t expect a better shot at finding a parking spot after the placards are decreased, because the bulk of the permits, about 120,000, enable city employees to park in specially designated zones near their workplaces, like police stations and schools. You’re not allowed to park in those areas anyway, and there are no plans to reduce those zones by 20%.

The Times, which drops over 1,700 words on the hot-button topic today, notes that part of the problem is that no city agency has ever been assigned to monitor the placards and record to whom they are issued, something that’s finally about to change. But as Wiley Norvell, the Transportation Alternatives spokesman points out, “Enforcement is the most essential piece of this entire effort, and if the police do not start ticketing and towing the cars of workers who abuse their permits, then none of this amounts to anything.”

The Police Department has already started cutting the number of placards it issues, and the reductions will hit other city agencies by May 1st, with the Education Department feeling the pinch by the start of the next school year. The cuts will not effect the illegitimate, home made placards used by Park East synagogue, which the police have been looking the other way on for years. But the placard crackdown will take away the lone perk enjoyed by the city’s unpaid volunteer auxiliary police officers – bad timing, too, as the changes go into effect during the first anniversary of the murder of two auxiliary cops in Greenwich Village.

Photo: Uncivil Servants