Pierrepont Parking Problems

In this week's Brooklyn Paper, BHB publisher Homer Fink discusses permit abuse in the nabe:

Brooklyn Paper: Permits a Plague on Pierrepont: Parking is at a premium in Brooklyn Heights even when no laws are being broken. But plenty of laws are — and sometimes by the enforcers of them.

It is illegal to park in a “No Parking” zone, even if your car has a permit from the city, unless that area is designated for use by a specific agency (i.e. NYPD, Department of Education etc). In other words, if you can’t park there legally, neither can the guy with a permit. But respect for regulations is not stopping these scofflaws from congesting our narrow streets.

“A lot of people are parking with impunity,” Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Judy Stanton says. She and the BHA were so outraged in January that they took to the streets with notebooks in hand taking down the license plate numbers of parking offenders.

The Heights Association discovered that the overwhelming majority of permit-brandishing vehicles were there illegally for long periods of time — including weekend evenings — with clearly no business purpose for being there. Permit holders are “storing their cars,” on our streets and not being ticketed, Stanton added.

The main case study for this Heights-wide problem is Pierrepont Street, where flagrant disregard for the rules is the norm. The north side of the street is clearly marked as a “Tuesday Only” parking area. No vehicle, permit or not, should be parked there on any day except Tuesday. On a recent Friday afternoon, I donned my gumshoe disguise and staked out the street. NYPD vans, civilian vehicles with NYPD, Department of Transportation or disabled permits were parked between Hicks and Henry. Yet only one was ticketed — an electrician’s van. None of the permit owners were issued summonses.

While Stanton, the BHA and their 22 notebook-carrying volunteers tried to make a dent in the permit problem back in January, the NYPD’s traffic enforcement agents reportedly have a “no hit” policy on permit holders according to Uncivil Servants, a Web site dedicated to documenting parking enforcement abuse. When WCBS-TV’s Brendan O’Keefe reported on the “selective enforcement” of parking rules by agents last year, he received “personal attacks and threats against my family” from individuals claiming to be police officers.

There may be a break soon in this parking debacle. Mayor Bloomberg has said the city will re-evaluate over 150,000 parking permits that have been issued citywide.


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  • T.K. Small

    This blog entry is incredibly timely and coincidental! Only yesterday did I discover the Brooklyn Heights blog and today there is something perfectly relevant to me.

    I am one of the individuals who parks with a permit on Pierrepont Street between Hicks & Henry in “flagrant disregard” of the regulations. Clearly people do not know what they are talking about!

    As a New Yorker with a disability, I have had a New York City issued “parking permit for people with disabilities” since 1997. The regulations and instructions on the back of the apartment are perfectly clear in stating where it is valid.

    How dare the Brooklyn Heights Association and the Brooklyn Heights Paper assert that my conduct is “illegal”!

    T.K. Small

  • T.K. Small

    Oops, that should read “permit” and not “apartment”.

    T.K. Small

  • steve

    What, TK, does the permit say on the back, regarding where the holder may park? Does it grant carte blanche to persons with disabilities to park anywhere they will?

  • T.K. Small

    Thank you for your question. Certainly I cannot park wherever I want. The rules are intended to make it a little easier for a person with a significant mobility impairment to and from their vehicle.

    Understanding how and where the permit can be used is a two-step process. According to the official website of the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities:

    “A person holding a New York City Parking Permit (a plaque placed in the windshield) may park in all “No Parking” zones except those marked as taxi stands; at “No Parking” or “No Standing” spaces authorized for doctors, press, diplomats, and government agencies; at parking meters without depositing a coin; and in “No Standing, Trucks Loading & Unloading” zones except for specified restricted hours.”.

    Additionally, on the front of parking permit itself, it indicates that it is valid for on street, metered and municipal parking; on the back of the permit it says: “PERMIT IS NOT VALID IN THE FOLLOWING LOCATIONS: NO STANDING or NO STOPPING zones, BUS STOPS, TAXI STANDS, FIRE HYDRANTS, FIRE ZONES, DOUBLE PARKING, or where a traffic hazard would be created.
    In addition, this permit is NOT valid on:
    Crosstown Streets in the Garment District 35 to 41st St’s – between 6th and 8th avenues.”

    Finally, in reviewing the language of the original article in the Brooklyn Paper, use of the word “scofflaw” is pejorative and is very close to being libelous. According to Merriam-Webster a person who is a scofflaw is ” a contemptuous law violator”. Not exactly a complementary statement, would not you say?

    T.K. Small

  • steve

    T.K. thanks for the detailed response. I think it is fair to say that the problem we have in the neighborhood is not one caused by mobility impaired persons using their validly issued permits, but by others who are abusing a privilege. And in fact, the non-disabled permit holders who use their permits for private use (as opposed to in their official capacity as City employees when going to some location for work purposes), are making it more difficult, I would contend, for disabled persons to park.

  • James

    What about common decency and the right of the community at large to have clean streets? What do we do when cars are parked on streets that can never be properly swept- week after week? Are we just expected to grin and bear it and live in a filthy city because there are selfish people around who will not move their cars for any reason?

    Although T.K. Small may adhere to the law, it is hard not to notice that there are many around (with permits) who do park where it is not permitted and they are indeed scofflaws. Inconsiderate people come in all stripes and a disability permit does not denote sainthood!

  • hlkhjkw

    repeat offenders on Pierrepont btw Henry and Hicks:

    1. Martin Connor who lives at 61 and sometimes parks right outside.
    2. Someone with doctor’s plates who lives in the bldg on the corner of Pierrepont and Henry. I think a doctor should be able to park illegally if attending to a medical emergency (how often does that often), but this person parks illegally all the time for convenience.
    3. Someone with govt plates who — I called — is an admin asst with the courts.
    4. At least one person with disabled plates who has no mobility issues at all and in fact works in a physically demanding profession.

  • anon

    If you disagree with the law – then work to change the law but to call people out who are following the law is counter-productive

    the rules are clear as T.K. states permits can park in “No parking” zones – just not “No Standing” Zones

  • hlkhjkw

    I’m not calling anyone out who is following the law. All these people are abusing their permits. I’m sure T.K. isn’t the person I know — the person who has no disability at all but does have a relative who does have a physical disability. That relative doesn’t have a car so has given the permit to this person

  • T.K. Small

    Wow, this is interesting. This afternoon I went out for a roll around the neighborhood and I return to find that, in addition to being generally accused of being a scoflaw, that I am seeking “sainthood”. As an attorney, this is a completely new experience.

    What really bothers me about this article/exchange, has been the sanctimonious, busybody, elitist and privileged yuppie tone of the people complaining about the parking situation on Pierrepont Street.

    T.K. Small

  • Homer Fink

    Let’s all try to keep a level head here folks… this is about PARKING a CAR. Thanks.

  • ABC


    As an attorney, why do you need a car? I thought part of getting a permit was related somehow to why you need to have a private car parked in front of your home for your personal business. As opposed to using a car service, etc., like so many other people. Isn’t this why all the retired people with disabilties (@55 Hicks) don’t have permits? Am I wrong?

    I think people are mad because they get frustrated at people abusing the permit system. Is that “elitist”? “yuppie”? “privileged”? There is a reason why parking isn’t allowed on both sides of Pierrepont.


  • T.K. Small


    This has become almost ridiculous!

    I do not have a car because I am an attorney; I have a car because I am fortunate enough to be able to afford it and it is my choice as to where and how I spend my money. With respect to my parking permit, I have not abused anything, either in getting it or how it is used. Read my comments above.

    As far as why I need a car, I use a motorized wheelchair to get around because I have a neuromuscular condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy and mass transit and car services are not viable options. I have family, friends and professional obligations outside Brooklyn Heights that I want and need to attend. Are you suggesting that a person with a disability should not have this right?

    T.K. Small

  • nabeguy

    Jeez T.K., as if having to make your way in the world with a disabilitywasn’t enough on your plate, you have this kind of crap piled on it. People, back the hell off. I know how much of a rallying point parking is in this neighborhood and, living on Middagh Street and seeing how the entire south side between Hicks and Henry is reserved for fireman (and I know those people with bogus permits), I can understand the frustration, but T.K. appears to have a legitimate claim to his permit and I can’t really see that he’s abusing it. Of course, he did admit to being a lawyer, so all bets may be off on my argument. Joking folks.

  • No One of Consequence

    I think I agree with nabeguy, however, the point made about interfering with street cleaning is valid. Not saying that TK is personally responsible or selfish, of course, but that it is possible for legally parked cars with permits to aggravate a sensitive situation. TK, does the permit say anything about making way for street cleaning?
    I have a car and I have always assumed that part of the expense of owning a car in NYC was the parking expense, hence I fork over monthly lot fees. I think it pays for itself in time spent looking for a spot and not having to worry about break-ins or other street parking incurred damages.
    Methinks we need someone with MD plates, or some other non-disability permit to tell us what the plate/permit entitles.

  • T.K. Small

    Thank you nabeguy and others, for your support. But just to be clear, I do not want anybody’s pity or charity. The more that these people complain about me and the other permit holders, the more they confirm my growing sentiment about this neighborhood. As a 42 year resident of Brooklyn Heights, I think I can speak with credibility.

    The image of the Brooklyn Heights Association volunteers scribbling down my license plate number and indirectly handing it over to the Mayor, strikes me as being a tattletale. Furthermore, their telltale efforts are not based on any appreciation of the facts or understanding of the procedures or regulations.

    If anyone had approached me with a neighborly question or suggestion, I would have been more than happy to consider their ideas. And, perhaps I still will.

    Going beyond the respect for the rule of law, parking and street cleanliness, which I do not really think is the motivating considerations for the Brooklyn Heights Association anyway, I would like to know whether the BHA tattletales would be willing to document the routine removal, prevention and denial of accessibility features in commercial establishments, as well as the sidewalks?

    My final two cents worth,

    T.K. small

  • ABC

    Thanks for your info TK.

    I don’t agree with your calling the BHA volunteers “tattletales” as I know several people who park on Pierrepont with permits are doing so in an illegal manner. I have approached two of these people in a neighborly way and was greeted both times in two word response — and it wasn’t “thank you”.

    I guess I think people who abuse the law should be held accountable.


  • parking maven

    Hey, I think we’ve drifted from the main point here.

    My experience, and I think for others as well, is that the (overwhelming) majority of the abuse comes from elected officials and city agencies. (I don’t think it’s coincidence that the BHA picked Martin Connor’s block as a “case study”. I’ve seen his SUV in the Love Lane garage, so it’s especially egregious that he has a permit to park 1 block closer to his house if he feels like it.) Undoubtedly there are some abuses of disabled permits as well, but it’s not the biggest problem.

    If the city/state wants to subsidize parking for officials/workers, fine – put it out in the open and let’s debate whether we can afford to pay for their parking. But don’t give them a “costless” perk that diminishes our quality of life and even safety. There’s a reason why these are “No Parking” zones.

  • Philip Bennett

    Perhaps, if more of you dear people used bicycles instead of clogging the streets and parking areas with your global warming gas-guzzling hogs and leave alone those folks who really and truly need a van, we’d have cleaner streets and air, less noise and slimmer butts. All you BHers jogging furiously up and down the promenade: each of you get a bike and I wouldn’t have to look at your jiggly sweaty bodies ruining my view.

  • http://www.brooklynrowhouse.com Brooklyn Row House

    I don’t have a problem with people like TK who have a demonstrated need for convenient parking using “No Parking” spaces. I have an issue with young cops, firefighters, EMS and even city union officials parking their cars wherever they like and with impunity because they know that Traffic won’t ticket them.

    The abuse goes beyond just a cop’s personal car blocking a fire hydrant. I know cops who lend their dashboard permits to their wives, mothers and friends to go shopping or to see a ball game at Yankee Stadium. Look at the streets around Macys, Scores or MSG. You’ll find placarded cars parked at fire hydrants, at bus stops, even on the sidewalk. Look at the placard and you’ll see the precinct where it was issued. So what excuse does a cop working in a Staten Island precinct have for parking his personal car in a Bloomingdale’s loading zone in Manhattan?

  • Heights Neighbor

    Just to be clear…cars with disabled permits are allowed to park in ‘no permit’ zones, which all of bklyn heights is. That’s a different issue. The cars with other city-issued permits are not allowed that same privilege.

    Aside from street cleaning issues, that particular Pierrepont block allows parking on only one side because years ago there was a fire, and a fire truck could not get through, resulting in at least one death.