Snitches Could Get Cash for Illegal Parking Tips

Penalties would apply only to cars illegally obstructing bus or bike lanes, crosswalks, sidewalks or fire hydrants, and only within a certain distance of a school.

Penalties would apply only to cars illegally obstructing bus or bike lanes, crosswalks, sidewalks or fire hydrants, and only within a certain distance of a school. Shutterstock

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

The proposal, currently before the New York City Council's transportation committee, would give citizens 25% of any fines resulting from reports of certain illegally parked cars.

New York City residents could make money by reporting illegally parked cars and then collecting part of the resulting fines under a proposal introduced last week.

The bill, sponsored by City Councilmembers Stephen Levin and Corey D. Johnson, would give parking whistleblowers 25% of any fines resulting from reports of cars that obstruct bike or bus lanes, sidewalks, crosswalks or fire hydrants located near schools. Not every car would be subject to the policy—only those parked illegally within a “radial distance” of 1,320 feet of a school building, entrance or exit. 

The proposal would also increase the fines for those cars, from $115 to $175. Cars with city-issued parking placards—typically given to police officers and other city employees—would not be exempt, which Johnson, the council speaker, said was designed to crack down on their unauthorized use.

“Placard abuse remains a scourge on our city streets despite repeated efforts to bring it to an end,” he wrote on Twitter. “This new bill would give New Yorkers the power to end placard abuse through real-time crowdsourced reporting and appropriately harsh penalties.”

The proposed program would be modeled after an existing tool that allows residents to submit reports of idling cars via an online portal. The parking initiative would use a similar, but separate, portal that would be overseen by the Department of Transportation, which would establish rules for the process, including the type of evidence required to follow up on a complaint. Cases that proceed would be heard before the city’s Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

Levin said the bill was not designed to increase revenue for the city—just to make streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

“It’s not for all parking violations, just for the dangerous ones—parking in bike lanes, bus lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks,” he wrote on Twitter. “People die going into traffic avoiding cars doing this. Unfortunately, police don’t usually enforce.”

The proposal, referred to the council’s transportation committee, is the latest in a long line of initiatives meant to crack down on illegal use of parking placards. A three-strikes policy implemented by Mayor Bill de Blasio revoked just two permits in 19 months, while a separate police department team issued 2,444 summonses for fraudulent use of a parking permit in its first year—the equivalent of “fewer than seven tickets a day across the entire city,” Streetsblog reported.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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