NYC bills target parking placard scofflaws

Two bills set to be introduced in the New York City Council this week aim to curb parking placard abuse.

Many of the holders of the 160,000 legally issued placards in circulation in New York City use them to park in no standing zones, bus lanes, or bike lanes without being ticketed.

"It's really creating a safety hazard in our community," said Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents District 1 in Manhattan, where placard abuse is rampant. Chin is sponsoring one of the new bills that aim to rein in illegal parking by those with placards and the use of fake placards.

"There's so much abuse going on we really need to have some ground rules," Chin told Fox 5. "If you are caught with three or more parking violations, your parking permit will be revoked. It's a privilege, not a right."

The new pieces of legislation would also create an electronic tracking system for city-issued placards so traffic agents could more easily determine which are real, and would double the fine for use of a fake placard to $500.

"The problem is not that the fine is too low, it's that no one gets fined in the first place," said Ben Fried, the editor-in-chief of Streetsblog NYC, which tracks placard abuse. Fried is among those questioning whether new laws will alleviate the problems with enforcement.

A year ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of a placard enforcement unit within the NYPD, which has since issued tens of thousands of summonses. Yet blatant placard abuse persists.

On Friday, the mayor defended the NYPD's enforcement practices.

"I can tell you that the NYPD takes it very seriously and we all know Rome wasn't built in a day," de Blasio said. "So changing a lot of bad habits and bad practices take time, but we are very focused on making sure that placards are not abused."

The two bills are set to be introduced Thursday.