Parking placards, legal and not, anger many New Yorkers

Many drivers in New York City find themselves circling and searching for an open parking spot for a half hour or longer. Now city lawmakers want to—hopefully—free up some of those occupied spots with five bills aimed at better enforcing illegal use of government parking placard.

The Twitter account @placardabuse has been chronicling the problem in more than 34,000 tweets over the past three years. The account's curators applauded the City Council's efforts.

"It could be somebody faking a placard. It could be parking in spots where you're not supposed to with placards," Councilman Keith Powers said. "But the one thing we saw in the council was that there was no even basic tracking of who's getting them, how many there are, whether we're getting the right amount."

Powers said he worries not only about the sheer number of legal parking placards in this city—an estimated 150,000-plus—but also the different rules that apply to placards for different departments.

"I think it's too complicated right now and I think doing enforcement in this complicated scenario is impossible," he said.

On a large enough scale, parking placard abuse harms more than just the average New Yorker's sense of fairness. All those cars without placards that can't find parking spots keep circling the block, adding more congestion to an already congested city.

"I think by giving us a better tool to track and enforce it, we'll open up some spots for people," Powers said, "we'll stop people from driving around and we'll decongest the streets here in New York City."

In a statement, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson wrote: "We are in a transportation crisis and the question of how we allocate our street space is of paramount importance."

The mayor's office said it agreed placard abuse erodes faith in government and had no place in this city.