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BY COLIN MIXSON
They’re here to protect — and serve themselves to illegal parking.
Police are using no-standing and truck-loading zones, along with other illegal spots in northern Battery Park City as their own personal parking lot, abusing city-issued placards to flout the law and create unnecessary hazards, residents claim.
“They cover fire hydrants, they block entrances to sidewalks, they disregard basic safety concerns, and it’s completely overwhelming,” said Dave Grin, a Department of Transportation employee who lives in Battery Park City.
Locals first noticed the parking-placard abuse soon after a joint federal, state, and local task force — dubbed the New York Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Strike Force — moved into an office space at Brookfield Place in 2014, and the parking abuse on surrounding streets has gradually increased over the past four-years, according to residents.
A Downtown Express investigation on Aug. 20 found a no-standing zone stretching three blocks along River Terrace from Chambers Street to North End Avenue that was almost completely filled with placard-protected vehicles, including 30 cars featuring NYPD placards on their dashboards, which took up the lion’s share of the illegal spots. A handful of cars bearing FDNY and Department of Corrections placards — along with several livery cars waiting for passengers — filled most of the the remainder of the no-standing zone.
Of the dozens of illegally parked cars, only one vehicle — lacking the benefit of an NYPD placard — was issued a $115 ticket for parking in the 24/7 no-standing zone.
The reason the three-block no-standing zone on River Terrace exists is because emergency vehicles cannot fit along the narrow roadway with cars parked on both sides, according to the chairwoman of Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee, who said CB1 had requested the no-standing zone be abolished last year to free up additional parking, but the Department of Transportation denied the request for safety reasons.
“DOT has already told us the street is not wide enough for emergency vehicles with parking on both sides of the street,” said Tammy Meltzer. “That’s a fact. They need to behave better in the neighborhood.”
NYPD placards, along with department-issued badges, were also seen displayed on the dashboards of vehicles parked in no-standing zones on North End Avenue, Murray and Warren streets, in addition to loading-and-unloading zones on Murray Street, where only one actual freight vehicle could be seen among a row of placard-protected cars.
City law does allow parking placards holders to park in loading zones — but only if the vehicle is “essential to the performance of their organizational functions.” The law specifically states that placards do not allow parking in no-standing zones such as River Terrace, at fire hydrants, or areas where parking would create a hazard.
And those cars spotted on Monday represent only a fraction of the total amount of placard-protected vehicles in northern Battery Park City, according to the chairman of CB1 and president of the 1st Precinct Community Council, who said that more than 100 such vehicles can be seen plaguing the area on any given day, many of which are likely personal vehicles used — like everybody else — for commuting to work rather than official business, which is what such placards are intended for.
“There may be over 100 cars a day parked on the streets, and it leads me to believe that some of this is commuting,” said Anthony Notaro.
Notaro said community members are sympathetic to the needs of law enforcement, and are more than happy accommodate city vehicles required for emergency police work or official business, but he said that police will have to stop the brazen placard abuse in Battery Park City, or else the community board will be forced to take further steps to curb the cops’ outlaw behavior.
“We understand that there may have some needs, and I think the community is willing to sit down and come up with some accommodations, but commandeering an entire neighborhood is unacceptable,” Notary said. “It’s frustrating and we’re going to escalate this as high as we have to.”
Community members are joined in their fight against illegal placard parking by local elected officials, including assemblywomen Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou, state Sen. Brian Kavanagh, Borough President Gale Brewer, and Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who penned a letter to the Mayor’s Office dated June 28, which requested that a special unit Mayor de Blasio formed in 2017 to combat placard abuse be dispatched to northern Battery Park City.
“With the onslaught of illegal parking, it has become imperative to tackle this problem with targeted enforcement,” read the letter, which described the situation in Battery Park City as a “crisis of illegal parking.”
The Commanding Officer of the First Precinct, Captain Angel Figueroa, is working to address the parking situation in Battery Park City, according to NYPD spokeswoman Sergeant Jessica McRorie.
McRorie did not comment regarding whether the NYPD’s placard task force had been dispatched to the area.