City Hall Says It Will Release Records on New Teacher Parking Placards … After the Election

The public won’t know what prompted de Blasio to restore teacher parking perks until the general election is in the mayor’s rear view mirror.

Mayor de Blasio and UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Photo: Rob Bennett/Office of the Mayor
Mayor de Blasio and UFT President Michael Mulgrew. Photo: Rob Bennett/Office of the Mayor

New York City schools won’t get added protection from speeding drivers this year. And after Mayor de Blasio’s big spring placard giveaway, thousands more teachers have an incentive to drive to work, adding to traffic hazards for children and their families.

If you’d like to know what caused the city to reissue tens of thousands of parking permits to Department of Education employees last May, City Hall has agreed to release the relevant documents — after the November election.

To recap, in 2008 Mayor Michael Bloomberg reduced the number of DOE placards from 63,000 to around 11,000, aligning the number of permits with the number on-street parking spots reserved for schools. Issuing permits to teachers who didn’t have reserved spots, as the DOE did before, often resulted in illegal parking around schools, since a placard is a license to park just about anywhere without fear of getting a ticket.

After some pushback, the United Federation of Teachers accepted the cuts. (Randi Weingarten, then UFT president, acknowledged the old system wasn’t working.) But the Council of School Supervisors and Administrators, the school principals union, sued the city to get placards for its members restored.

Earlier this year, an arbitration ruling led the city to reissue CSA placards. According to the principals union, the de Blasio administration “decided on its own” to extend parking privileges to every DOE employee who has a car and wants a permit. In addition to the 6,200 principals and other school administrators represented by the CSA, City Hall made placards available to 94,000 UFT members, as well as 25,000 DOE employees who belong to DC 37.

Since the city did not increase the number of on-street spots allocated to schools, tens of thousands of DOE employees are again competing for approximately 11,000 on-street parking spots. When they can’t find a spot, it’s open season on crosswalks, bus stops, no-standing zones, and other areas where parking is normally prohibited.

The thousands of teachers and other DOE employees who walk, bike, and take to transit, meanwhile, got nothing out of the deal. If anything, their commutes may be made worse as more of their colleagues drive to work.

When media outlets picked up Streetsblog’s coverage of the new placards, de Blasio announced that the permits would be accompanied by unprecedented levels of parking enforcement. Four months later, motorists with placards are still parking wherever they want.

City Hall and DOE declined to provide Streetsblog with a copy of the arbitration ruling, and wouldn’t say why the city chose to reissue UFT permits. In May we filed a freedom of information request for the ruling, as well as emails and other records pertaining to new placards for UFT and DC 37 members.

Under New York law, government agencies are granted a lot of leeway in honoring FOIL requests. Due to “the volume of requests” the city receives, City Hall said its target date for producing the records is November 24, two weeks after voters decide whether to give Bill de Blasio a second term.