Illegal Parking in Brooklyn Heights: Scenes From the Placard Orgy

Spotted outside Our Lady of Lebanon on Henry Street on a recent Sunday.

Spotted outside Our Lady of Lebanon on Henry Street on a recent Sunday.

A few weeks ago we ran an update on the Henry Street bike lane in Brooklyn Heights, where members of the First Presbyterian Church illegally park on Sundays and police look the other way. The era of NYPD-sanctioned bike lane blocking had supposedly come to an end this summer, right before primary day, when local Assembly member Joan Millman said she’d told the 84th Precinct to start enforcing the law. But afterward, the lane-blocking resumed, and Millman explained to Community Board 2 that she’d brokered a “compromise” that allowed churchgoers to keep on parking in the bike lane during services.

One reader went to check up on the situation and found that the bike lane-blocking churchgoers not only get a free pass from law enforcement — they’re all part of the same fraternity. Here’s his tour of Henry Street on a recent Sunday, starting at First Presbyterian:

Most cars (there were 15 in the bike lane) had bogus “Church Business” placards on their dashboard, though one had a DOT Agency Business Permit, and one parked in the No Parking Anytime zone had a District Attorney placard! Calls to 311 were made, but according to the 311 web site, the cops showed up hours after church service was over. In fact, the only police activity I saw was two NYPD Highway Patrol employees illegally park their cruiser in a “No Standing Anytime” zone for an hour while they grabbed lunch at a nearby diner.

It seems that the siren call of parking sin has spread elsewhere in Brooklyn Heights. Further down Henry Street, at the corner of Remsen Street, the Catholics are taking a cue from the Presbyterians, and are one-upping their brethren! Members of Our Lady of Lebanon were observed parking upwards of 15 cars simultaneously in the bike lane and on the sidewalk, as well as several in front of the Church in a No Parking Anytime zone. All sported bogus Church placards, sacred offerings to the saints of traffic.

While investigating the situation, I came across a Traffic Enforcement Agent giving a ticket to a commercial van parked at a hydrant at Henry Street and Montague Street. The owner of the van yelled out of a nearby window, unsuccessfully pleading with the TEA not to ticket him. I called the TEA over and asked him if he was going to ticket the drivers parked in the bike lane too. He responded that he could not, saying that his bosses said the church members could park there during services. I asked who, specifically, this order came from — the response was “Brooklyn North.” [Editor's note: Brooklyn North encompasses several precincts. The commanding officer is Chief Gerald Nelson.]

Now, while I agree that the commercial vehicle should have received the ticket, it does not strike me as fair that the small businessman pays, while the church-goer gets to sin with impunity.

I noticed that in both locations, the legal spaces were unmetered and filled to capacity. Perhaps, in addition to the NYPD enforcing the law, the DOT should meter those spaces in order to allocate those spaces more efficiently and cut down on the “need” to park illegally.

More scenes from the placard orgy over at mybikelane.com.