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 Tasks to complete for website launch:

  •  The Problem page - edit, add photos as needed
    • Matthew and Aaron
  • How do I tell if this ticket is legal
    • Matthew
  • FOIL page - explanation of why we want to do this, what we hope to achieve
    • Matthew and Doug
  • Quick Reference Chart - explaining which permits can be used in each location/signage situation
    • Matthew and Nick
  • Total Permits in Use - Charts, graphs, etc
    • Matthew and Nick
  • FAQ
    • Aaron, Matthew, Nick, etc.
  • Action Page - take action on Council bills, other things
    • Matthew, Aaron, et. al. as needed




The Problem

Many government agencies and offices issue parking permits to select employees. Typically placed on a vehicle's dashboard, permits allow government employees to park their vehicles in designated areas. The permits are not meant to allow government employees to block fire hydrants, avoid paying parking meters, park on sidewalks or anywhere else they want. Yet, this is exactly what parking permits are used for. Only in the rarest of circumstances does the NYPD enforce against illegally parked government employees.

Thanks to a lack of enforcement and an unchecked proliferation of government-issued parking permits - legitimate and fraudulent - the widespread abuse of parking permits has persisted for decades and has grown significantly worse in recent years. By default, the ability to abuse a parking permit has become a closely held entitlement, a perk of holding certain government jobs.

Though it may not be explicit policy, the NYPD's traffic enforcement division essentially operates under the premise that citywide there is a "no hit" policy on vehicles with permits in the window. Permit abusers talk of the NYPD extending a "courtesy" to agencies to break the law; business owners and Business Improvement Districts relay accounts of local enforcement officers repeatedly refusing to give tickets to permit holders while ticketing non-permit holders parked in their midst.

While Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to reduce the number of permits on the street, the problem persists. Transportation Alternatives estimates that over 150,000 drivers have access to free parking in the form of valid government-issued parking permits (including the more than 30,000 NYPD "Self-Enforcement Zone" permits and 75,000 teacher permits). Thousands more illicitly enjoy the same privileges by photocopying permits, or by minting their own. In part because of this parking privilege, census data clearly show that government workers drive to work at two times the rate of private sector workers

The Price

Unfortunately, when drivers with permits cannot find a legal spot, they often park in illegal spaces at the curbside and important metered spaces, hurting businesses that rely on parking turnover and sharply cutting into city revenues that would be generated by meters. Even more egregiously, many government workers endanger public safety by parking in front of fire hydrants, on sidewalks, in crosswalks, in intersections, and in bus stops.

In addition, illegal permit parking generates unnecessary traffic in several ways:

  1. Due to their parking privileges, many commuters who could be taking transit opt to drive instead.
  2. Because they super-saturate the curb, illegal parkers cause other vehicles to troll to find ever-elusive curbside space.
  3. When vehicles cannot find a spot, they double park, compounding traffic problems by blocking lanes and forcing erratic maneuvers.
  4. Illegal permit parking degrades the quality of the air that New Yorkers breathe, which contributes to increased risk of health problems like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
  5. Illegal permit parking erodes the trust of government and law enforcement in the communities that are overrun by vehicles.


While the recently announced $400,000 Department of Transportation study of parking and permit abuse in downtown Manhattan is a positive step toward better understanding parking patterns, the Mayor need not wait for another study to begin upholding the law and reducing the numbers of permits in circulation. The Mayor and the NYPD should immediately implement the following recommendations that would ameliorate the problem overnight:

  • Enforce the Law
  • Take Inventory of Permits and Reduce the Total
  • Educate Government Workers to Eliminate the "Culture of Entitlement"
  • Update Parking Signage to Reflect the Communities' Needs

Uncivil Servants

Until that happens, we'll be building our own vigilante parking permit posse here at

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