Of All the Places: Placard Perps Park Wherever they Want Near the Tow Pound

This is all you need to park illegally near the Brooklyn tow pound. Photo: Mars van Grunsven
This is all you need to park illegally near the Brooklyn tow pound. Photo: Mars van Grunsven

Who’s towing the towers? Answer: no one.

Illegal parking is rampant around the NYPD Tow Pound inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard — and, wouldn’t you know, employees of the tow pound are among the worst perpetrators, contributing to a trash- and car-filled residential area around the repository of scofflaw drivers.

“When I started working here [in late 2019], the NYPD officers told me that I can park my car anywhere on Navy Street, just like the tow pound employees,” said one impound worker employed by an outside security company who had left his car in a “No Standing” zone with a paper towel on the dash reading “NYPD Tow Pound Security.” “They never bother us.”

He wasn’t lying. Streetsblog had reported the illegally parked car to 311 — and the case was closed quickly by the NYPD without any explanation. The same thing happened when we reported a Honda parked in front of a fire hydrant across the street from the tow pound. Case closed.

“That Honda is a colleague of mine’s [at] the pound,” said the security officer. “We don’t even need to move our cars for street cleaning.” It shows: the curbs and sidewalks along Navy Street are litter-filled — the streets simply never get cleaned.

By the way, this is a bike lane. Photo: Mars van Grunsven
By the way, this is a bike lane. Photo: Mars van Grunsven


This disease has spread in both directions from the entrance of the tow pound on Navy Street between Sands and York streets. Over a period of two weeks, Streetsblog reported numerous cars to 311. No action was ever taken. Some examples:

  • We reported blocked sidewalks on Navy Street at Tillary Street, underneath the BQE overpass, which is filled with placard perps from the nearby 84th Precinct station house and FDNY firehouse. The NYPD determined that “police action was not necessary,” according to the 311 email we received.
  • We reported cars on the sidewalks around PS 307, at the corner of Hudson Avenue and York Street, but the NYPD told us it found “no evidence of the violation.”
  • Several times, the NYPD at least acknowledged that cars should not be parked in the “No Standing” zone on Navy Street, but the 311 email we received — “The Police Department responded to the complaint and took action to fix the condition” — was a flat-out lie. No one from the NYPD responded to our report, meaning that the only action taken by the NYPD was to file a false report. The illegally parked cars remained illegally parked yet unticketed as they blocked a protected bike lane and portions of the sidewalk, making it impossible for people pushing strollers or using wheelchairs to pass.

The NYPD declined to comment on why officers don’t ticket illegally parked cars or why they file false reports.

The reason may stem from who is committing the crimes; most of the placard perps are cops, firefighters or those adjacent to those uniformed workers (who park illegally under the BQE, as you can see in the slideshow below).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“There are a lot of city workers around here and there’s not enough parking,” said one firefighter at Engine 207, who had used his FDNY placard to park on a sidewalk at Tillary and Navy streets (a car-filled triangle that is, ironically, labeled as a neighborhood “beautification” project).

“We are allowed to park here, so we can keep you safe,” he claimed.

When the smoke-eater started driving on the sidewalk (presumably to keep us safe), he noticed that a Streetsblog reporter was photographing him.

“What are you taking a photo of my car for, man?” he said, turning less friendly. He then rolled up one of his sleeves and showed his forearm. “See this? I broke my wrist to keep you safe.”

The illegal parking around the tow pound is a contagion — a gateway drug to neighborhood decay. With the streets rarely cleaned, Hudson Avenue, just off Navy Street, has become a dumping ground. The other day, there was a large flat-screen TV and a decaying couch on the sidewalk. A few blocks away, there were junked cars.

The people who have to deal with this garbge are the approximately 3,500 tenants of the adjacent Farragut Houses, where the average annual household income is $21,000. Kids who grow up there are zoned for P.S. 307, where they learn valuable lessons about how our city functions or, in this case, does not.

This illegally parked car had an old teacher ID as a "placard." Photo: Mars van Grunsven
This illegally parked car had an old teacher ID as a “placard.” Photo: Mars van Grunsven

On a recent Friday morning, a NYPD tow truck sat next to a car with a substitute teacher’s old ID on its dash. It was parked in the middle of the sidewalk on the Hudson Avenue side of the school — not in the nearby “Department of Education Parking” area (photo above). Streetsblog asked the tow truck operator why he wasn’t towing the car (which Virginia plates), and the officer said that he didn’t want to be the “bad guy.”

He seemed genuinely unable to fathom that the teacher blocking a sidewalk in front of a school was the bad guy (though if he had run the plate, he would have discovered that this supposed Virginian substitute teacher got eight camera-issued speeding tickets last year alone).

“The man is just doing his job,” the officer offered. “How would you feel if you were a teacher and at the end of the day your car is gone?”

Streetsblog responded that we would likely never break the law again, given the consequences, and the officer thought about it for a little bit.

Then, earnestly, he asked another question: “Wouldn’t you park there if you could?”