Ending Parking Abuse and Reclaiming our Streets

As we look ahead to the planning of our city for the next several years, we need to enact robust streetscape programs and invest in alternative modes of transportation to move away from our current car-centric culture. Plans like Transportation Alternatives’ 25x25 plan provide a glimpse into the possibilities for our streets and public spaces when we reclaim our space from cars and consider climate, pedestrians, and accessibility — and the next Council also needs to match public design with accountability. That includes, but is not limited to, addressing placard corruption. We deserve safe, accessible bike lanes and busways without vehicles flouting our city’s public transportation and public space improvement plans.

The parking abuse that has plagued Schermerhorn St. and Downtown Brooklyn has continued for years with zero accountability. The next Council Member for the 33rd District needs a real plan to address this corruption that doesn’t rely on the same ineffective systems of reporting violations to 311 without change in enforcement. We cannot get to the public space future we deserve if we continue to allow bike and bus lanes to be used as parking lots for cars and trucks.

Today I am sharing my plan to address parking abuse in the 33rd District. This plan has been built with feedback from constituents, bikers, and transit activists who live and move in the 33rd District. It encompasses the following:

Immediately pass Intro. 2159, sponsored by Council Member Levin, to allow for civilian enforcement of dangerous parking and blocked bus and bike lanes.

  • The NYPD has failed to enforce parking violations, and rather than increase our reliance on policing, this legislation provides an opportunity to shift to community accountability that the Department of Transportation can build on.

Implement a city share program for city owned agency vehicles & incentivize public transit.

  • Moving to a less car-centric city requires that our government model best practices. Many parked cars surrounding Borough Hall are partially-used agency vehicles that take up parking; a city car share program for staff at all agencies would help reduce vehicles on the road and unneeded placards.
  • Provide public transit incentives for city agency staff, including Citibike memberships and Metrocard discounts.

Enact legislation to significantly reduce the number of city parking placards issued, requiring a proof of necessity for a placard.

  • 2019 enacted Council legislation assessed the number of placards issued citywide. We have the framework to analyze how many placards are legally issued and how to significantly reduce their issuance. NYC should require agency staff to follow a metric for qualification, so placard issuance isn’t the default.

Invest in dedicated protected bike lanes that move beyond green paint to create meaningful safety protections and convert space away from car lanes.

  • Cut down free parking in commercial areas and dedicate meter funds to finance protected bike lanes.
  • Implement Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s Public Realm Action Plan for more pedestrian space and safe bike lanes. To have truly protected bike lanes, we need physical separation of lanes with design changes in Downtown Brooklyn.
  • Require a bike lane study to be completed any time a road is repaved, following the model of Washington D.C. Adding traffic calming measures at the time of re-pavement can be more cost effective than doing so independently.

Create a DOT parking abuse active enforcement unit.

  • DOT and NYPD currently have the legal authority to enforce parking violations, however enforcement is minimal at best. DOT should establish a funded unit to proactively enforce parking violations and work with community partners on target corridors, shifting away from NYPD reliance.
  • New York is leaving money on the table by not issuing violations to illegally parked vehicles. Fines from regular offenders who build parking fees into the cost of business should be routed into a fund to build and maintain protected bike lanes.

This issue gets to the core of what New Yorkers need from their City Council Members. Parking abuse is a hyper-local issue that has a real effect on daily quality of life. We need to organize, build coalitions, and fight for legislation. In addition to sharing this plan, we have prepared this action guide to support constituents to put pressure on the current Council to take action on Intro. 2159. We should not wait for the next Council for this issue to be addressed, I hope you’ll join me in taking action.

I grew up in New York City and have spent my life fighting for my community. I’m running to represent District 33 in the NYC Council.