This column originally appeared in Brooklyn Paper on June 30, 2007
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.