New parking placards, being issued to 50,000 city workers, won’t increase congestion, de Blasio says

The Department of Education is issuing an additional 50,000 parking placards to employees beginning May 18, 2017.
The Department of Education is issuing an additional 50,000 parking placards to employees beginning May 18, 2017. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

Mayor Bill de Blasio has dismissed the idea that handing out 50,000 new parking placards to city workers will lead to an increase in New York City’s traffic congestion or parking issues.

Every school employee at the Department of Education who has a car will receive an agency-issued parking permit come Thursday, May 18, in what amounts to a sweeping change in how the city handles school parking.

Currently, city schools are given a designated number of placards that coincides with the on-street parking space that has been reserved for faculty at a first-come, first-serve basis.

Under new rules, each staffer, to be equipped with a personal placard, will be able to fend for the same amount of space outside schools.

Increasing the number of placards by the thousands, without improving parking conditions, will “reopen the floodgates” to traffic and street hazards around schools in a city rife with drivers misusing their placards to flout parking restrictions, according to Paul Steely White, the Executive Director at Transportation Alternatives. City workers’ misuse of placards has been documented extensively online.

During a Monday evening appearance on NY1, the mayor downplayed the concerns.

“The situation is being overstated in a lot of ways,” said de Blasio. “So, yeah, there will be an increased number of people competing for those spaces, but it doesn’t change the number of spaces.”

The placard proliferation undoes Bloomberg-era parking reforms that, in 2008, brought a significant reduction of DOE permits — from about 63,000 to 11,000. De Blasio said the administration was somewhat hamstrung over the issue. He noted that the placard increase is the result of negotiations and arbitration stemming from a 2009 lawsuit filed by the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators union.

“There’s more placards and that is the matter of a legal situation,” he said. “There was a lawsuit brought and that was the resolution of the lawsuit and other matters that had to be worked through in negotiation.”

De Blasio maintained that unlawful parking around schools will be enforced.

“I remind anyone who thinks they can be cute and use one of these placards in an inappropriate way, you’re really running the risk of very big penalties and there will be consistent enforcement,” the mayor assured.

That baffled Jon Orcutt, the spokesman at TransitCenter and former policy director at the city’s Department of Transportation under Bloomberg.

“In some ways, inherently, the placard is an invitation for misuse,” Orcutt said. “The placard gives you a free pass to thwart the parking regulations in New York. That’s the problem with giving more out. We should have thousands less.”