De Blasio’s Zeal for Fare Enforcement Doesn’t Extend to People Who Steal Street Space to Park Illegally

The mayor says repeat turnstile jumpers should be arrested to prevent widespread fare evasion. But you can steal curb space or abuse a parking placard repeatedly and never go to jail.

Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office
Mayor Bill de Blasio. Photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office

Speaking on WNYC this morning, Mayor de Blasio continued to object to Manhattan DA Cy Vance’s decision to scale back criminal prosecutions of fare evasion.

Despite statistics showing that people of color account for around 90 percent of turnstile jumping arrests, which needlessly entangle people in the criminal justice system, the mayor said criminal summonses for repeat offenders — not just civil fines — are necessary to ensure compliance with the fare.

“I understand if you’ve got a singular offense, I don’t want to see people arrested for that,” de Blasio said. “What I’m concerned about is if you’ve got people able to consistently evade fares with no meaningful sanction. If there is not [an] arrest somewhere in the equation if there is consistent fare-beating, then we don’t have clear enough consequences, and people will do it more and more.”

If this is the truly mayor’s approach to “theft of services,” the least he could do is apply it evenly. For instance, people who rack up multiple parking tickets should be hauled away in cuffs under the mayor’s logic. They’re repeatedly stealing curb space and if we don’t have clear enough consequences, people will do it more and more.

But the mayor’s zeal for criminalizing the failure to pay for public services doesn’t extend to car owners who double park or overstay their meter time. Nor has the mayor suggested jailing repeated parking placard abusers.

In May, de Blasio announced plans to get tough on the widespread abuse of government-issued parking placards, but evidence suggests the “crackdown” has been all bluster and few results.

The @placardabuse Twitter account continues to post photos of repeat abusers who block fire hydrants, crosswalks, bus stops, bike lanes — you name it — in the same location, with the same (often fraudulent) placard, over and over and over again:

This rampant illegal parking not only poses clear safety risks and creates traffic dysfunction, it engenders a culture of lawlessness among people who are supposed to serve the public. And it’s visible on streets all over the city.

So when will de Blasio start insisting that repeat placard abusers go to jail?