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Mayor Puts City on Path to Replacing Broken Placard System

February 21, 2019

Stickers & scanable license plates will eventually replace often abused parking placards; City will roll out new technology, stiff penalties & dedicated enforcement that will help to eliminate fake placards, and a strict three-strike revocation policy for placard misuse

NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio today announced the next steps in his plan to tackle fake placards and the first steps towards a digital parking management system to replace physical placards by 2021. This new plan builds on the Mayor’s 2017 placard crackdown, which led to a 93% increase in summonses for illegal parking in 2018 from the 2016 baseline. The Mayor aims to phase out the use of physical city-issued placards throughout the city in 2021 and eliminate the use of fraudulent placards. This will be accomplished with an increase in penalties, a strict three-strike policy for misusing a placard, culminating in revocation, and dedicated DOT placard enforcement unit. At the same time, a new census of placard misuse will provide groundbreaking data to measure our progress and inform the public. The Mayor is also committed to working with the Council on placard abuse.

“Placard abuse erodes faith in government and has no place in our city – it’s simply a question of fairness,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Misused and fraudulent placards increase congestion and pose a public safety risk. These initiatives give us the tools we need to start making a real dent in this pervasive issue, to help build a fairer city for all.”

“DOT looks forward to playing a key role in helping combat placard abuse, including moving towards a digital placard system and strengthening targeted enforcement,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “These initiatives are important steps towards a better regulated placard system and better curb management citywide.”

“This new initiative will help ensure our City streets are kept clear and that privileges are not abused,” said NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan. “While NYPD enforcement of placard abuse has increased 93% from 2016 to 2018, this problem persists and we will continue working closely with our partners at the Department of Transportation on this critical effort.”

Moving Towards Digital Parking Management System

Pending the results of DOT’s Placard Sticker pilot, stickers will be used to replace DOT-issued placards by the end of 2019 as a bridge towards the Pay by Plate System. The Pay by Plate system will fully phase out all city-issued physical placards by 2021.

Pilot Program for Placard Stickers: DOT is currently conducting a pilot program that replaces paper placards with window stickers on 300 DOT owned vehicles. By making it impossible to move an official placard to a different vehicle, the sticker program will eliminate a significant aspect of placard misuse. Replacing placards with stickers is also a key stepping stone towards a fully virtual permit system, and this sticker system will provide a bridge until the pay-by-plate system is fully implemented. Results from the pilot expected summer 2019.

Pay by Plate: DOT and NYPD will roll out a state-of-the-art parking management system. An integrated parking management system will eventually link parking meters, hand held enforcement devices and license plates. This parking management system will ultimately say if a car is in violation of parking and placard rules, further automating parking enforcement. Government employees that have authorization to park at certain places and times, which are currently identified with a parking placard, will have those stipulations attached to a license plate that will automatically register as legally or illegally parked—eliminating discretion and confusion in placard enforcement. It will cost $52 million for installation and new equipment, and the first edition of this modernized system, focused on pay-by-plate meters, will be fully operational by 2021.

Stiff Penalties & Dedicated Enforcement

Strict Three Strikes Policy: Through DOT and DOF rulemaking, the city will create a strict three-strike policy that will lead to permanent revocation for misusing an official placard three times. This rule would make misuse or fraudulent use an additional, separate violation on top of a parking violation. This rule will be in place by spring of 2019. In addition, the Mayor will advocate for changes to State law to raise the penalty for a placard violation from $50 to $250.

Dedicated Enforcement: DOT will create a new team of 10 Traffic Enforcement Agents dedicated to targeted enforcement of placard rules.  This dedicated team will focus on particular hot spots in Lower Manhattan or Downtown Brooklyn, the two areas most plagued by placard abuse.  Working with NYPD, DOT will hire, train and acquire the equipment for this team within one year.  They will be empowered to ticket vehicles abusing their placard privileges or using fake placards. As DOT undertakes this initiative, we will also evaluate its effectiveness and potential next steps, including focusing on other hot spots for placard abuse.  

Tracking Illegal Placards: The Mayor’s SCOUT team will conduct an annual survey on the rate of illegal placard use in key hotspots throughout the City, to create a baseline of data to track the progress of the placard plan.

In 2018, there were roughly 125,500 city-issued placards. DOT issued 50,000, NYPD issued 44,000 and DOE issued 31,500. This total number does not include state or federal placards. Since the 2017 announcement, there has been a 93% increase in NYPD summons for illegal parking while displaying a placard from the 2016 baseline. There were 28,269 summons in 2016, 41,931 in 2017 and 54,608 in 2018.

“The illegitimate use of parking placards is a critical component of our city’s chronic traffic congestion problem,” said Senator Leroy Comrie. “I applaud the Mayor for his efforts to crack down on these unlawful, unfair, and unsafe practices.”

“Placard abuse is a violation of the public trust. When I served as Chair of Manhattan’s Community Board 2, I gave up the placard provided to me. Now, with our city more congested than ever, we need stronger enforcement to ensure safe and equal access to our streets. I’m thankful that Mayor de Blasio is cracking down on this egregious practice,” said Senator Brad Hoylman.

“I am happy the Mayor is cracking down on the gross abuse of placards in the City by instituting measures to deter individuals from the misuse of government and fake placards,” said Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick. “For years, parts of my district have suffered from elevated levels of traffic congestion, ticket fraud, and lost revenue due to unenforceable parking fines. These comprehensive measures and penalties will send a clear message that placard abuse will not be tolerated throughout New York City.”      

“Placard abuse and associated corruptive practices, such as blocking sidewalks and bus and bike lanes, are inexcusable. It’s the City of New York’s responsibility to hold whomever is at fault, accountable. I’ve worked on this issue for many years and I hope this bill package recently introduced by the Council along with the Mayor’s initiative introduced today will stop the illegal use of placards,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Transportation Committee.

“Placard abuse does more than frustrate New Yorkers hunting for a parking spot — it is a public menace and unfairly burdens small businesses,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “In many Lower Manhattan neighborhoods, such as Chinatown and FiDi, heavily congested and narrow streets are made even more dangerous by flagrant placard abuse. We urgently need a comprehensive solution to this problem, which is why I am proud to support Mayor de Blasio’s digital parking management system and increased enforcement measures to go after those who abuse the placard system.”

“With so many vehicles and limited places to park in this city, we cannot allow people to take advantage of the law by using placards to park wherever they please,” said Council Member Robert Holden. "I would like to thank Speaker Corey Johnson and my fellow Council Members for tackling placard abuse with targeted bills, and the Mayor for taking this matter seriously and acting to ensure that city government works together to address an issue that has been plaguing our constituents for some time.”

Council Member Peter Koo said, “Placard abuse is a growing problem on our city streets in which many now believe their placards are a right they are entitled to, rather than a privilege to be used under very specific restrictions. Such misuse not only clogs our streets with illegally parked vehicles, but it also creates resentment and distrust of those authorities allowed to use the placards. I’ve introduced legislation with my colleagues in the Council that looks to clearly define, regulate and enforce placard abuse, and I’m happy that the mayor too is working to curb what is tantamount to a culture of corruption.”

“Downtown Brooklyn is overrun with the cars of drivers who flagrantly abuse the city-issued parking permit system, making our streets not only unsightly and inefficient, but unsafe,” said Regina Myer, President of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “This is one of the most persistent issues affecting our downtown, with deleterious effects on our businesses, and on the quality of life of our residents, workers, and visitors. With enforcement of the Mayor’s measures announced today there is a real opportunity here for positive change. We look forward to monitoring their success and working towards further means of ending this issue that plagues the entire city.”

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