Chinatown Angered by Parking Placard Abuse

Business owners are irate over the continuing placard abuse on the streets of Chinatown (Photo by Shuhan Yu via World Journal)

Despite a successful crackdown by the 5th Police Precinct in April, private cars of city employees with special parking placards have returned to take over the curbside parking space in Chinatown. Businesses along the streets are frustrated by the persistence of the problem. And the 5th Precinct vowed to have zero tolerance on placard corruption even with the cars of police officers.

In April, the 5th Precinct went after placard abuse on the main streets of Chinatown including Mott, Bayard, St. James Place and Worth. Close to 30 vehicles that violated the parking rules were towed, including those that belonged to employees of the Fire Department, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the Department of Correction and the Police Department. The community applauded the action.

But only a month later, the problem reemerged. A Twitter account focused on placard corruption recently tweeted that many private cars of police officers with special parking placards still park illegally in the public parking space in Chinatown, some right in front of fire hydrants, and some with an inspection sticker that expired five months ago. Even police officers from the 20th Police Precinct, which does not cover Chinatown, park their cars here. Some traffic police also leave their uniform jacket on the dashboard to indicate their identity. The tweet called on the 5th Precinct and Chinatown Council member Margaret Chin to respond.

“I have been running my business here for eight years. Placard abuse has gotten worse and worse in the recent two years. All the parking spots are occupied by them. Our customers have nowhere to park,” the owner of a dried food store in Chinatown told the World Journal on May 8. “The 5th Precinct conducted crackdowns. But such cars keep coming back.”

On May 8, several private cars of police officers without meter receipts were parked on Mott Street which are metered for the public to park. On Hester Street, city employees’ cars parked everywhere around the “No standing anytime” sign.

“We have been tightening enforcement on Mott, Bayard, St. James Places and Worth streets against any private cars of city employees that take public parking space,” said Tommy Ng, the commanding officer of the 5th Precinct, said on May 8. He said the parking space in Chinatown is for the local residents and tourists. And even if the car belongs to a police officer, “as long as it is parked illegally, we’ll take [down] a record [of it] and hand it to his or her supervisor and demand Command Discipline.” Chin did not respond by press time.

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