Garodnick Proposes Bar Code Scanners to Curb Parking Placard Abuse

City Council Member Dan Garodnick has introduced a bill that could cut down on the abuse of fraudulent parking placards. The bill would require that city-issued placards be equipped with bar codes that traffic enforcement agents can scan to verify. If enacted, it should cut down on one form of placard abuse: the use of bogus laminated pieces of paper to park illegally with impunity.

A new bill could make it easier to discern official parking placards from fakes, like the one above. Photo: Noah Kazis

The Bloomberg administration substantially cut the number of city placards in 2008, after a concerted advocacy campaign to wrestle the proliferation of officially sanctioned parking perks — and all the traffic they cause — under control.

The potential for abuse is still high, though, since traffic enforcement agents are reluctant to ticket any vehicle that bears the stamp of official privilege. As Streetsblog has reported, there’s a whole cottage industry devoted to the manufacture of fake parking placards. Synagogue- and church-goers have shown no compunction about putting placard-esque items on their dashboards to get away with parking illegally.

Garodnick’s bar code proposal would help traffic enforcement agents tell the difference between what’s real and what’s fake. “The idea is that this would make it easy for them to scan a placard, to remove the element of doubt when a TEA may be uncertain of whether this is a legitimate placard,” said Dan Pasquini, Garodnick’s communications director.

Other forms of placard abuse will be tougher to stamp out. The bar codes wouldn’t help agents muster the will to ticket vehicles with official placards parked in front of bus stops and fire hydrants, which are illegal spots no matter what’s on the dash.

The bill has been introduced in the transportation committee, where Garodnick’s office hopes to get a hearing soon.