City lawmakers grill police on parking problems

New_York_Daily_News_logo_(3).png By Dan Rivoli

Only 89 cars with illegal parking placards were towed in the past year despite widespread abuse, city officials said Tuesday.

The number of offending cars was so low that one city councilman, Ydanis Rodriguez, urged New Yorkers to snap photos of vehicles parking with illegal placards and share them on social media.

“Every day we see someone using an illegal placard,” Rodriguez, chair of the council’s transportation committee, said at a hearing on the subject.

About 52,000 summonses for the offense were issued in the year since Mayor de Blasio announced a crackdown on people abusing parking privileges. The NYPD had issued 29,000 tickets for the year before the start of the crackdown.

But that did not explain why so few cars with bogus placards were hitched onto the backs of tow trucks and carted away.

NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Pilecki of the Traffic Enforcement District defended the department’s record on placard abuse, even as lawmakers criticized the rampant illegal parking around the city, particularly by law enforcement officers.

The NYPD has 116 officers dedicated to ticketing for placard abusers, he said.

“All our agents are encouraged to take enforcement against vehicles that are abusing their permits,” Pilecki said.

The hearing covered 14 pieces of legislation that aim to ease the burden of finding parking in New York, from bills creating residential parking programs around the city and, in certain neighborhoods,suspension of alternate-side parking during road work or film production, and parking for press vehicles.

Councilman Mark Levine, a sponsor of a bill for a northern Manhattan residential parking program, said the city is afflicted with the “crisis of congestion.”

But city Department of Transportation officials detailed concerns about residential parking permits, such as their legality and the “equity” in cutting off parking from people who depend on a car.

“I’d invite you to come up to Washington Heights one morning and watch all the luxury Mercedes and BMWs with New Jersey plates coming across the bridge driving around looking for parking,” Levine said. “Kind of hard to make the equity argument on behalf of those individuals.”

Still, the DOT’s operations chief, Margaret Forgione, questioned how well a residential parking program would work, arguing that people would buy permits just for the privilege of circling around their neighborhoods looking for a spot the way they do now.

As for outsiders taking up public parking spots on residential streets, Forgione said two agency studies, around Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and Barclays Center in Brooklyn, show that cars with out-of-state plates often belong to people living in the city.

“We have determined that people perceive a lot more outsiders coming in than there actually are,” Forgione said. “The same cars were consistently parking day and night.”

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