By Christina Carrega and David Brand
A journalist reporting for a major city paper routinely runs into an obstacle when she pulls up in front of the Queens Criminal Courthouse on Queens Boulevard — a line of court staff cars clogging the short press parking zone.
The court system is the latest front in the citywide battle against parking placard abuse, a fight that intensified Tuesday when state Sen. Kevin Parker tweeted “Kill yourself!” at a complainant who exposed his alleged placard misuse.
On more than one occasion, a court interpreter — with a city-issued parking placard on her dashboard — refused to budge from the press parking zone even after the beat reporter explained that the designated spaces were reserved for people with special press plates, the reporter told the Eagle.
“She said ‘I have a placard. I am allowed to park here. My supervisor told me I’m allowed to park here. I am a court interpreter. I work at the work at the court. There’s parking just up ahead. Why don’t you use the parking just up ahead?’” the reporter said the city employee told her.
The court staff member advised the reporter to park in a municipal lot on 82nd Avenue, which costs $22 a day — or $110 a week.
Days earlier, the journalist received a $115 ticket when she parked on the median outside the courthouse — a last-minute option when no press spots are available, especially on days when Cardi B or another high-profile defendant come to court.
The reporter said she was also recently brushed off by another city worker who illegally parked in the press zone.
“She said ‘Goodbye! Goodbye! I’ve seen you before. I’m entitled to park here. I got here early,’” the reporter said.
Throughout the city, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has designated NYP Parking Zones for members of the media. There are more than 70 zones in Manhattan, eight in Queens, six in Brooklyn, four in the Bronx and one in Staten Island, according to a 2017 list on the DOT website.
The Eagle began monitoring the press zone after the reporter shared her run-ins with court staff. On each of the six days that Eagle reporters visited the Kew Gardens courthouse — by bus or for-hire vehicle — between Dec. 6 and Dec. 13, the press parking zone was filled with vehicles without press plates.
The drivers were able to park with impunity until Dec. 13, when the Eagle reached out to City Hall about parking problems.
“We have reached out to the NYPD to ensure they are conducting enforcement of the press parking spaces in front of Queens Criminal Court,” a City Hall spokesman told the Eagle on Dec. 13.
The next day, Dec. 14, two cars with placards were ticketed for parking in the press-only zone.
Nevertheless, the parking problems persist outside the Bronx Criminal Courthouse, where drivers seem to park wherever they please without repercussions.
In one photo sent to the Eagle by a reporter, a white Prius — without city placards — is stationed in the press zone. Other cars are located in a “no standing” zone designated for authorized vehicles.
“This white Prius doesn't even have a placard in the window,” a reporter told the Eagle last week. “This car is here almost every time I come to park in the Bronx. I did get a spot today but there are only two cars that can fit in this zone."
On Twitter, watch dogs continue to expose citywide placard abuse that often goes unpunished. As of 12 p.m. Wednesday, the account @PlacardAbuse had already identified “bogus placards” on High Street in Brooklyn, another car parked illegally on East. 20th Street near Gramercy Park and three cars with placards parked illegally in front of fire hydrants.