Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams won’t tell his staff to stop abusing their parking placards until other government workers do the same.
Adams, who held a town hall meeting in his office Tuesday to discuss the citywide misuse of such placards, said it was unfair for his staff to be held to a different standard when so many other city workers are still parking on plazas or sidewalks across the five boroughs. He pledged to work with the Police Department to take on placard abuse at a citywide level.
“We won’t have an Eric Adams rule. I fought my entire life to make sure men that look like me don’t have different rules than everyone else. It’s one rule in this city. It’s not going to be a rule just for Eric Adams — the first African American borough president,” Adams told a small crowd at the town hall as he cycled through a slideshow of cars parking in other plazas across the city.
On a typical weekday, the Brooklyn Borough Hall plaza is littered with illegally parked cars displaying Borough Hall parking placards.
Street safety advocates and good government watchdogs have for years criticized the government workers who use their parking placards or other paraphernalia as a way to park illegally — in plazas, in front of hydrants, in crosswalks or bus stops — without getting ticketed.
“It’s lawlessness — and that makes these streets less safe for pedestrians and cyclists who have to navigate around these guys, and it’s teaching the drivers that maybe they don’t need to follow the traffic laws either…,” said Blythe Austin, a Downtown Brooklyn resident and member of Families for Safe Streets.
Austin, like most of the roughly 30 people in attendance, was not pleased with Adams’ stance. She said the placard issue has been raised countless times without resolution.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has increased both the number of parking placards issued to city workers and the municipal fleet size, has unveiled various enforcement crackdowns and new initiatives to try to curb abuse — but infractions are still rampant, documented daily on twitter via @placardabuse.
“Somehow there is always finger-pointing from our elected officials and our police, who are putting our lives at risk,” Austin said.
Adams attempted to clarify that he only allows a handful of female staffers to park in the plaza when they are responding to emergencies before sunrise and that the plaza still had plenty of open space for other visitors.
“I’m going to protect the safety of my staff,” Adams said, adding he had roughly three or four employees who would respond in such situations.
But multiple cars with Borough Hall placards were still parked in the plaza by the time the meeting wrapped up around 7 p.m. — including one SUV parked next to an orange traffic cone affixed with a message on laminated computer paper: “Parking Spot for B P Car.”
Adams also said that Borough Hall staffers can legally park in the plaza, reasoning that administrations before his did the same. But the city’s traffic rules specify that such municipal permits could only be used in spaces specifically reserved for their use.
Adams still pitched his own ideas to curb placard abuse and suggested holding the town hall every three months. While Adams thinks placards are necessary, he said he’d like to see a reduction in the number of city vehicles on the road and the creating of a “municipal car share program,” where most workers from city agencies would essentially rent city cars from garages.
Attendees left unimpressed.
“It’s very weak,” said Brian Fulton-Howard, of Dyker Heights, regarding Adams’ plaza-parking staff. “You have the authority to tell your people to follow the rules. You can lead by example.”