Councilmember Restler introduces legislation to end placard abuse

June 2, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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On Thursday, Councilmember Lincoln Restler, whose district stretches from Greenpoint to Boerum Hill, introduced two key pieces of legislation to curb rampant placard abuse.

Thousands of government parking placard permit holders abuse their privileges every day in neighborhoods across the city — particularly in Downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights, both within Restler’s 33rd Council District. Their cars  obstruct pedestrian space, endanger cyclists, take away public parking and pose a public safety risk, according to Restler.

Intro #500 would revoke all placards issued to individuals for their personal vehicles if they do not have government plates, unless those placards are collectively-bargained for groups like teachers or granted for people with disabilities.

Intro #501 allows citizens to report “hazardous obstruction” to the Department of Transportation (vehicle parking, stopping or standing “within a radial distance of 1,320 feet of a school building, entrance or exit in a manner that obstructs a bicycle lane, bus lane restrictions are in effect, sidewalk, crosswalk or fire hydrant”) and inflict a civil penalty of $175, recoverable by the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings. 

This would allow citizens to report instances where public employees were improperly using placards to park in bike lanes, bus lanes, etc. The legislation was originally introduced by former Council Member Stephen Levin and is currently co-sponsored by Council Members Carlina Rivera and Christopher Marte, both of Manhattan.

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A car with a city-issued placard parked illegally near Borough Hall. Eagle file photo by Kelly Mena

“Placard abuse is petty corruption,” said Restler. “City employees serve the public, not the other way around. Our legislation moves us towards a placard-free city, which is more than reasonable in the most transit-rich city in the country.”

“Placard abuse has been a vexing issue for years in Brooklyn Heights,” said Lara Birnback, president of the Brooklyn Heights Association. “By reducing the number of placards given out in the first place, as well as creating a mechanism to report and fine those who use their placards inappropriately we believe this new legislation will reduce the temptation to abuse the placard system.”

“The Boerum Hill Association supports Councilmember Restler’s bill to curb rampant placard abuse,” said Howard Kolins, Boerum Hill Association president. “For decades our businesses on Atlantic Avenue and Smith Street have been plagued by vehicles with an array of excessive placards as well as bogus placards, business cards, notebooks, hats and towels that are accepted as fee parking passes. Our small businesses lose customers, and the city loses metered parking revenue.”

Lara Birnback, president of the Brooklyn Heights Association. Eagle file photo by Mary Frost

“Ending placard abuse in New York City will make our streets safe, while ensuring bus and bike riders can stay moving — unobstructed by illegally stored cars,” said Danny Harris, executive director of Transportation Alternatives. “Placard abuse is city-approved corruption, and we look forward to working with Councilmember Restler and the entire City Council on advancing this legislation.”

“Government employees parking wherever they want, whenever they want creates a great deal of public mistrust, and this entitlement must end immediately,” said Ken Podziba, president and CEO of Bike New York. “Placard abuse puts the convenience of a select few in power above the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, and we can’t thank Councilmember Restler enough for taking on this important issue.”

Howard Kolins, president of the Boerum Hill Association. Photo courtesy of Boerum Hill Association

In May, Restler’s office sent a letter to city, state, and federal departments in Downtown Brooklyn urging them to work with employees to stop parking illegally and to reduce the availability of placards. The letter was signed by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez, Borough President Antonio Reynoso, State Sen. Jabari Brisport, Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon and Downtown Brooklyn Partnership President Regina Myer.


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