Tribeca Citizen | The Candidates 2021: Jenny Low for CD1

This is the eighth and final entry in a series of short interviews with the candidates for City Council District 1 along with their responses to a very long questionnaire based on reader questions. See the link to posts on the other candidates at the bottom.

At the very start of the pandemic, Jenny Low and a few friends chipped in to assemble meal kits for the 400 seniors at the Confucius Plaza Apartments on the Bowery where she grew up. One person took a van to Jetro in the Bronx and bought in bulk; the rest of the crew bagged it up and delivered. The idea snowballed, and now they are also running a food bank and have teamed up with ReThinkNYC to keep meal delivery going.

It was the neighborhood’s struggles during the pandemic that made her decide it was time to run for the council seat. “This is home to me. I tell my husband, ‘We are not moving. This is it.’ So I want to find ways to help this community.” The timing was also right, with an open seat and what will be essentially a new government: a new mayor and 39 out of 51 new councilmembers.

Low lives in Little Italy with her husband (who is third generation Queens-born) and son, a sophomore in college. She arrived in the US at age 12 with her parents and three siblings, settling with her grandmother in Chinatown. It was a cold water flat and so small that her brothers slept each night at a friend’s apartment. Low didn’t know any English but was nonetheless enrolled at JHS 65 (now IS 131).

“All I could do was cry,” she says now. But the school’s bilingual program made such a difference that she got into Brooklyn Tech for high school. “That school changed my life. It opened my eyes to opportunities I never would have thought of.” And it got her to Yale, where she studied applied maths.

Her grandmother never went to school, but she taught herself to read and write Chinese and eventually enough English to work for an American family in Hong Kong, who brought her with them when they returned to the US. Eventually she opened a coffee shop at 1 Catherine St., which Low’s parents ran until 1993.

Low spent 15 years after college working in community banking then moved over to the charitable giving division of JP Morgan Chase, where she granted millions a year over the next decade to non-profits working largely in affordable housing and job training. In 2018 she started working for the City Council’s community engagement division and is now director of the administrative services division of Speaker Corey Johnson. That’s given her government experience, but it’s her work in small business development that she says has become so relevant in these post-covid times.

“We need to help small business get back on its feet,” she said. “That’s what New York City needs. That’s what gives our neighborhoods their character.”


Do you have any solutions for protecting small business from the pressures of rising real estate costs?
Saving small businesses is vital to New York City’s overall recovery. Commercial property owners have faced untold vacancies and a significant drop in rental revenue. The federal American Rescue Plan couldn’t have come at a better time but many small businesses’ arrears are too much to handle and require additional assistance. Every displacement is a cultural loss to the neighborhood. Once we lose these unique businesses, it will be difficult to replace.

I support legislation and efforts where the rising cost of real estate is shared and the government is part of the solution in supporting the shortfall.

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and Senator Brad Hoylman’s bill to suspend rent payments for certain tenants due to lost earned income or were forced to close their place of business should pass. The bill under which, the commercial tenant, landlord and state government would all share the burden of the rent shortfall. Commercial tenants would have to pay the lesser of 20 percent of their actual income or one-third of their rent, property owners would have to forgive 20 percent of the rent, and the state government — using federal aid from the American Rescue Plan — would pay the remainder.

I also support the Small Business Job Survival Act, which gives tenants rights to level the playing field for business owners when negotiating fair lease terms. This is a needed solution to save our city’s small businesses and the jobs they create.

I would also support Councilmembers Brad Lander and Keith Powers’ bill that gives landlords 10 years of tax breaks if they and small business tenants agree to new leases that renegotiate arrears, or overdue rent, and limit future rent hikes. If the state gives the city the power to oversee such deals, landlords would have a year from passage to apply for tax breaks.

What is your proposal or attitude towards the future of Open Restaurants post-pandemic?
I want to continue Open Restaurants on a temporary basis for two years to study and analyze whether outdoor dining benefits restaurants and the surrounding neighborhood. There’s been complaints of excessive noise, piling garbage and lack of sidewalk space. The city should immediately rectify the excessive noise, create sound proofing and ticket any noise amplification. We must have immediate response to noise complaints as we can’t diminish quality of life for our neighbors. In CD 1, people live literally directly on top or opposite these outdoor establishments. We certainly want our local restaurants to recover and thrive but we should also ensure our neighborhoods are livable with all safety and quality of life concerns worked out.

Do you have any ideas for addressing retail vacancies?
I would look to revise the city’s commercial rent tax to incentivize lower commercial rents. When a retail tenant vacates a location, there is no rent paid and thus no tax collected by the city. It’s in the best interest for the city to consider incentivizing property owners to lower rents to levels that are more in line with what prospective tenants are willing to pay.Incentive and vacancy tax; commercial rent control could help reduce vacancy along with help for small businesses mentioned in questions #1

Do you have any solutions for limiting the regulations and red tape required to both start and maintain small business?
We should have one city government agency for all permits from all departments coordinated through one Small Business Office. We should have one website for all small business rules and regulations posted and available in an easy to find and language accessible format. This will limit red tape, wait times and lack of access to get permits and business certifications.

Do you have any solutions to the helicopter traffic that often plagues the neighborhood and others?
Elected officials have tried for many years to arrive at a solution to the heavy helicopter traffic and noise. I support Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler Nydia Velázquez and BP Gale Brewer’s Improving Helicopter Safety Act that would enact a federal ban on sightseeing flights and other private choppers from city airspace, with NYPD, medical, and news helicopters exempted. This will drastically reduce helicopter traffic, improve safety, and cut down on noise pollution by prohibiting non-essential helicopter flights in New York City airspace.

This neighborhood has been under construction for decades. Do you have any solution for making construction sites be better neighbors?
New York City is a constant hub of construction activity. Being neighborly on both sides and having good communication is important. Lack of communication can be the start of a series of problems. Every project should have a pre-construction survey that describes the project, timeline of construction, noise and dust mitigation, and expectations from the construction manager. Developers must inform residents of what work is being done, what disturbances could arise and when the project will be finished. And we must insist on the noise mitigation plan, a written proposal for minimizing construction volume, posted on the job site and shared with neighbors. I propose the City reviews requiring off-site parking plans submitted by the construction managers to reduce parking congestion near construction sites.

There is hardly a block in this neighborhood that does not have a sidewalk shed, some of which have been up for more than a decade. Do you have any solutions for requiring landlords to finish projects within a certain time frame so that they can be removed?
There is no reason for sidewalk sheds to be up for a decade! Per DOB, a sidewalk shed may not be removed until all associated construction work is completed, including façade cleaning, if applicable, and all exterior chutes, scaffolds, and hoisting equipment have been dismantled and removed from the site. Once the required construction work has been completed, the sidewalk shed must be removed. If there is no work done on the premises the shed must be removed.

While sidewalk sheds are supposed to ensure pedestrian safety, we’ve seen sheds that actually put pedestrians at risk for injury. With sidewalk space already at a premium, sidewalk sheds often create bottlenecks that force pedestrians to walk in the streets, risking being hit by a bicycle, car or bus. The sheds are also hurting small businesses.

The Mayor removed eight miles of sheds from New York City Housing Authority properties where no active work was taking place. And, Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law requiring the Housing Authority to remove all remaining dormant sheds on its properties. There is no such law, however, that applies to private property owners. At the City Council, I will discuss this citywide issue with colleagues and propose legislation to establish a set timetable for scaffolding. While we can’t eliminate scaffolds and sheds, we can minimize the risks by instituting a timetable.

Do you have solutions for better street cleaning?
The mounting piles of garbage is one of the major quality of life issues in our neighborhoods and hurts small businesses. When outdoor dining began last year, I joined a group of volunteers who swept and washed Chinatown streets on weekends to rid them of garbage and odor to help lure back diners.

The city’s pilot Clean Curbs program with local BIDs is promising with nicely designed enclosed containers for garbage bags to be placed but we have limited curb space given outdoor dining so many buildings won’t be able to participate. But we should still try to help buildings solve this problem so piles are not set out on the streets. I’m pleased the Mayor created the City Cleanup Corps— a 10,000-employee force to eradicate graffiti, collect litter and beautify parks— and he pledged to restore some of the sanitation budget cuts he made last year. This is needed so we can get back to regular garbage pick up.

The proliferation of e-bikes and electric scooters has been a challenge for this neighborhood. Do you have a solution?
We should support delivery workers who have long lived at the economic margins. The on-demand food delivery workers have become a crucial lifeline during the for many, delivering food to hundreds of thousands of residents who stayed homebound. And their use of e-bikes and electronic scooters increased. But they should not be using these motorized bikes on the sidewalks. It is unsafe and illegal. Riders must yield to pedestrians and obey all traffic laws as they ride on roads, pathways and in designated bike lanes. It is illegal to ride these vehicles on sidewalks and those who do so should be fined.

The NYPD has consistently used its power to close public spaces and amenities, especially during the pandemic. Do you have a proposal for this issue?
The pandemic had given New Yorkers a chance to take ownership of their streets and have more say in how they should be used. We shouldn’t allow the NYPD to close public spaces indiscriminately. With the pandemic easing, people need to be outside and use the green space for recreation, physical and mental health. The recent closing of Washington Square Park by the NYPD and instituting a curfew is alarming. There are clearly ways to figure out large crowds and noise without bringing in police in riot gear and curfews. I have good relationships with the 1st, 5th and 7th precinct captains and hope my direct involvement will help find workable and creative solutions that won’t affect public spaces being closed randomly by the NYPD.

What are your thoughts on expanding pedestrian-only streets? Do you have other proposals that would address pedestrian safety?
During the pandemic and demands of social distancing, it’s clear that open streets are a good solution so pedestrians can safely walk without having to dodge cars and other people. We have an opportunity to reimagine not only how streets can be closed but opened up for walking and biking that also prioritizes the ability for people to spend time outside and do it safely, particularly for areas that lack open space and parks. Another solution is to close down entire areas. For years there’s been talk of closing down the Financial District to through traffic. Pedestrians have to contend with narrow streets, narrower sidewalks, and with heavy pedestrian traffic. Closing off vehicles from entering into the area will enhance walkable open streets for everyone. I want to work on a vision to promote these ideas when I’m at the City Council.

Do you have any new solutions for addressing those people who refuse to go to shelters?
There are reasons people choose to live on the streets rather than go to a shelter. This past year, I was bringing meals and checking in on Kartoon, an African young man who made a home under an awning with his personal belongings in Chinatown. When asked why he won’t go to a shelter, Kartoon told countless stories of fights with people with mental illness and many personal items stolen. He would rather sleep outside during the bitter cold than go to a warm shelter. Kartoon said his fear of the unknown, of what might be waiting for him at a shelter, was worse than his fear of the known risk of staying out on the street.

It took weeks of encouraging conversations to motivate Kartoon to seek shelter. But likely the snow and freezing nights were reasons that nudged his decision. Kartoon’s pride to keep his independence was clearly on his mind. And I learned how difficult it is to convince someone to seek help.

First, we should stop using NYPD officers to remove homeless people off the streets and subways. We need the City to expand safe, supportive housing. This is a much better solution to shelters. It can’t just be a building. It has to be a place where people can live out their basic life functions. With no one-size-fits-all approach to ending homelessness, we are relying on the city’s outreach teams to engage with each of these individuals on a case by case, person by person basis. I was not properly trained to help Kartoon but compassion is key. We definitely need more trained, multilingual outreach members to directly reach homeless individuals to develop the combination of services that will enable them to transition off the streets.

The Financial District is also being asked to take on several new homeless shelters. What are your thoughts on residents’ opposition to this and their concerns?
This is another failure by City Hall, and sadly is no solution for either downtown, or for the people housed in the Lucerne Hotel. City Hall has weakly caved in to the worst kinds of NIMBYism, and now they are simply trying to move a problem instead of solve it. The fact is, we need real, permanent solutions to homelessness, and that means building more affordable and supportive housing, providing income support to those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and providing mental health care and other forms of treatment to people who need it. Instead, the Mayor is playing a shell game with people’s lives, and the entire city loses out.

We need to stop the City from shuffling people around to suit the day to day political needs of the Mayor, and instead focus on truly helping people who are homeless. I am pleased the City Council stepped up to offer a concrete solution by paying higher rates in its rental assistance voucher program for homeless New Yorkers. Int. 146-C also eliminates the program’s current five-year cap for vouchers. Moving forward, anyone who continues to qualify for the program will be eligible. These changes will increase the number of apartments available to homeless New Yorkers and help move more people out of shelter and into permanent housing.

Many readers feel there has been a rise in crime since the pandemic (and statistics support that) and not much has been done about it. What is your approach to community policing?
In 2019, we had historically low numbers of murders and gun violence. The primary difference between 2019 and 2021 is a global pandemic. The social isolation, high unemployment, persistent school absences and challenges logging onto remote classes, absence of after-school activities, disputes turning into shootings because of the proliferation of guns over the last year, and public service cutbacks wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the disinvestment in our communities were factors contributing to the rise in crimes.
I see no tradeoff between public safety and greater police accountability. Both can and need to be accomplished. I would allocate more mental health professionals to work in the subways, rather than cops, and make a violence interruption program, with respected people who work to defuse gun and gang violence, available in more neighborhoods. Gun violence is a public health crisis, and it requires a holistic response, not just adding police.

The city must do a better job to get illegal guns off the street a priority. We don’t manufacture guns in NYC so the proliferation of guns are brought in from other states. I support the state legislature’s push to pass comprehensive legislation that imposes accountability on gun manufacturers and prohibits the possession and sale of a ghost gun. The Senate bill package establishes a Center for Firearm Violence Research, enacts a ten-day waiting period for the purchase of all firearms, and requires the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to release gun violence data.

In addition, we need to invest in more programs and activities that help communities produce safety, from after-school programs, to enrichment and summer training and employment programs. These programs linked to communities can mitigate violence, particularly for the youth.

Finally, we know substance abuse and mental illness contribute to the difficulty many individuals have escaping the criminal justice system; many individuals released from prison will be rearrested again. Jails and prisons provide some treatment services. We should increase access to treatment in our communities, so that people can get help before they get into trouble. This means expanding health and mental care services and supportive housing.

We would like to hear your thoughts on the status of affordable housing downtown and in our zip codes.
We desperately need more affordable housing in every neighborhood across this city, including Lower Manhattan. This is an opportunity for the market to adjust itself and provide more affordable opportunities for renters and homeowners. I hope rent will continue to drop so renting a livable unit in a safe neighborhood with good transit options isn’t out of reach. There is a high number of empty office buildings and hotels in Manhattan that could be redeveloped with labor jobs for supportive and affordable housing.

I’m for smart growth and development which can be useful in planning the future of development in my District. I support the repeal of the 421-a tax subsidy program and redirecting billions of dollars into the development of low- and moderate-income housing. And, for housing built on public land, we should target rental expenses to be below the “normal” 30% household income for the lowest income NY residents; this will help ensure that the units that are created are actually affordable for the lowest income residents.

I’m supportive of the Mayor’s shift to build affordable housing in wealthy areas like Soho/Noho but I wouldn’t support the plan as is without adding more affordable units. I believe we can and must do better in this plan to include more open space, access to transportation, grocery stores, schools and childcare options. Adding that many units would mean nearby neighborhoods like Chinatown and Nolita will have to absorb the needs of new tenants.

We must look beyond monetary and housing interests with new development plans. The City must adopt guiding principles as what we want in our neighborhoods which should include racial equity and gentrification impact.

One other proposal that I’m in favor of to address the lack of affordable housing is to expand the City’s Community Land Trust (CLT) programs, nonprofit entities that become stewards of land or properties for public and community benefit in perpetuity. Instead of allowing distressed properties to be gobbled up by speculators who want to build condos, the City should step in and help CLTs acquire the properties and allow current tenants to purchase their units for an affordable price. CLTs create homes that remain permanently affordable, providing successful homeownership opportunities for generations of lower income families.

We have many empty hotels and office buildings. We should follow California’s example of establishing Project HomeKey which drew $600 Million from federal CARES Act funds to help cities convert hotels into permanently affordable rentals or cooperative housing. The affordable housing crisis is deepening during the pandemic. Expanding affordable housing will be a priority for me at the City Council.

What solutions for seniors in housing, mobility and access to basic needs can ensure that downtown is a place that residents don’t need to leave as they age?
As administration after administration develops plans for affordable housing, open space, public transportation and accessible education, certain groups of people have been excluded from having a seat at the planning stage. I’ve been fighting for decades for our elected officials to pay attention to seniors, non-English speaking immigrants, the disabled and the poor when developing plans on a host of issues. Recently, the city rolled out a vaccination plan that paid no attention to all those marginalized communities. If you didn’t have internet access, a computer or smartphone, and didn’t speak English then you were out of luck getting a lifesaving vaccine. Since the early days of the vaccination roll out, I’ve been able to assist more than 1,000 seniors get appointments and oftentimes I would bring them to the appointment site.

I am fully in support of an increase in the DFTA budget, particularly for NORCs, senior centers and home-delivered meal programs. Our population is aging and the city must adequately plan and spend funds to support seniors and their caregivers.

I’m most proud of my work at Chinese-American Planning Council establishing major senior centers in Chinatown and Flushing. These centers connect our immigrant older adults to vital community services that can help them stay healthy and independent. I’m so pleased to have won over the co-op board that wanted to displace the Open Door senior center on Grand Street. The center offers nutritious breakfast and lunch, educational and recreational programs and social services for more than 300 seniors. It’s good news that senior centers will reopen in a week. But we need more resources to help senior centers retrofit the ventilation systems, provide more PPEs and cleaning supplies and train staff to assist seniors while social distancing measures are still essential.

In addition to my work at CPC, I also volunteer at Hamilton-Madison House (HMH), a settlement house serving Chinatown and Lower Eastside residents for more than 128 years. HMH runs a NORC at Knickerbocker Village and Confucius Plaza. Most seniors want to be independent for as long as they can, and being in their own home, in their own space, is of great comfort to them. But we have to provide more resources to NORCs like access to a health-care clinic, coordinated activities, reliable transportation to and from appointments and delivery of nutritious meals. I was pleased to help deliver pantry boxes provided by LiveOn to seniors at KV at the beginning of the pandemic. I saw the need for homebound seniors and the disabled to have meals and grocery delivered. The city’s free meals are good but how many cold sandwiches can one take? Along with a few friends, I founded a free grocery delivery service bringing fresh produce and groceries to seniors on SNAP so they can use their EBT cards to make the purchase.

Since last April, I’ve been volunteering with ReThinkFood to deliver free culturally sensitive, nutritious meals to the most vulnerable in our community. In the last year, I’ve proudly helped deliver more than 1 million meals to seniors and families in the Chinatown/Lower East Side community. Rethink partners with local restaurants to prepare these meals. These meals have kept local restaurants opened and workers employed. It’s a win-win for the community. Another bonus has been to work with HMH at Knickerbocker Village to provide ReThink meals to seniors. Once the seniors began receiving meals, HMH followed up with wellness calls. I like to say we start with a meal then we enhance the experience with social, mental and emotional help for seniors. It’s one of the most rewarding feelings to see the warm smiles of seniors who receive the free meals and the attention they deserve.

Food insecurity is a priority for me when I get to the City Council. ReThinkFood’s model can be easily replicated throughout our city. I’m committed to increasing DFTA’s budget so we can designate more resources to communities with a large senior community. We must ensure that our senior center workers get the protections they need, that our most vulnerable residents are safe and nourished, and that our small businesses will be operating and thriving.

As you know the district has several distinct neighborhoods. How will you balance their needs and issues within your office?
My priority is simple: constituents come first. While I will have a district office in the community, my commitment is to meet constituents where they are. Most of the interactions and communications can be done digitally to be responsive to the people, but I will also prioritize non-English, technology challenged, with no access to the internet constituents. I plan to hold in person quarterly meetings with constituents around the district to listen to their concerns and address any issues they may have. Equity and inclusion are the cornerstone of my life’s work. And, I’ll continue this commitment at the City Council. My staff will be diverse and represent the constituents in the district.

I want to facilitate more public decision-making efforts like Participatory Budgeting, and believe that useful open platforms should be integrated into the functions of my Council office. The Council already has CouncilStat which my office will use to enter and track constituent issues. CouncilStat data will be updated daily and available on the NYC Open Data portal. This will provide transparency and I will use it as an accountability tool to ensure constituent issues are timely addressed with specific results.

Homeowners here are concerned about rising taxes on condos and coops – which is making it harder and harder to keep apartments here affordable. How would you address this?
This is a major issue in Lower Manhattan, however given the city’s endlessly confusing property tax system, the numbers just don’t seem to compute. The state property tax law, which values co-ops and condos as if they were rental properties, means the city looks at the income and expense statements of rental buildings that have similar characteristics to determine your condo or co-op buildings market value, even though sometimes, there are no similar properties available.

We need Albany to correct, once and for all, the confusing and unfair taxes with which these homeowners have long been saddled. Basic fairness dictates that co-op and condo owners’ property taxes should be reasonable, predictable and comparable to those paid by single-family homeowners.

Congestion pricing passed in the state legislature two years ago but its implementation has been held up. As councilmember will you urge the MTA and the governor to put it in place? Would you include carve-outs for downtown residents or other groups?
The U.S. Department of Transportation gave the green light on a crucial next step in the plan to bring congestion pricing to New York City. I support congestion pricing and applaud the green light to advance the measure. Congestion pricing will help reduce traffic, enhance public transportation and improve air quality since there will be less vehicles on the road. The congestion pricing proposal in New York City would manage Midtown traffic congestion using tolls. FDR Drive and West Side Highway are exempt from the congestion pricing plan and those who live in the congestion zone, as well as those who make less than $60,000 a year, are also expected to be exempt from the fees. And if you hardly drive or mostly drive off-peak, you’re not going to rack up huge tolls. Emergency vehicles and cars used by people with disabilities do not pay the tolls, as is required by legislation that authorized the program. The price of the tolls have not yet been determined, and more exemptions would require higher toll costs for drivers.

As you know, White Street is the location for the Manhattan borough-based jail, the proposal that addresses the closing of Rikers Island. What is your stance on the borough-based jail plan for this location?
We need to close Rikers because it is an inhumane institution that is emblematic of the systemic racism of our criminal justice system. But we should not simply replace one big jail with four small ones; we must fundamentally change our approach to criminal justice and move away from the incarcerate-first mentality that has destroyed so many lives and harmed our communities. Instead, we need to look much more at root causes of crimes, whether it’s poverty, lack of community support, lack of mental health care or addiction treatment, and give people the tools they need to become productive members of their communities. We do not need or want a jail built in Lower Manhattan; let’s stop de Blasio’s 4 borough jail plan and focus on helping communities rise rather than finding new ways to keep them down.

What is your opinion on school choice?
Families are absolutely free to make their choices. The application forms for public schools allow you to rank up to 12 options. The problem is, the odds are against you getting your top choice. Yes, there is School Choice in NYC. But it is not the student’s choice. It is not their parents’ choice. It is the algorithm or lottery’s choice.

NYC school placement, more often than not, comes down to a lottery. Families can express their preferences, but that’s about it. Fourteen years into the system, black and Hispanic students are just as isolated in segregated high schools as they are in elementary schools — a situation that school choice was supposed to ease. Those admitted to these most successful schools remain disproportionately middle class and white or Asian. Ultimately, there aren’t enough good schools to go around. And we fail the students and their families in a system in which some children win and others lose because of factors beyond their control — like where they live and how much money their families have. We need to invest and improve the quality of schools to meet the demand of students seeking vigorous curriculum.

I believe that every community has children who can learn at an advanced pace, and who could therefore thrive in gifted and talented programs. We should expand access to G&T programs, not eliminate them. We should change the current G&T admissions policies that prioritizes a student’s future education based on a single test at the age of 4. Assessments should take into account multiple measures, in third or fourth grade and I want to work with the Department of Education and teachers to come up with a series of multiple measures that better capture and recognize giftedness. We can then help these students stay on track to seek top schools that’s preferred for them.

What is your opinion on preserving historic districts?
Historic Districts are under attack again by real estate interests. I’ve spoken out against the Howard Hughes project to preserve the historic district at South Street Seaport. I’ve testified against the current proposal to upzone Governor’s Island which has implications to the historic characteristic of the much needed green space island.

I’ve been an outspoken opponent of the Mayor’s SoHo/NoHo rezoning because it does not provide for sufficient affordable units but more importantly the plan does not preserve the legacy characteristic of SoHo/NoHo community. The choice isn’t historic districts or affordable housing. The question is whether the City is willing to damage SoHo/NoHo, the South Street Seaport and other historic districts so real estate interests can build larger buildings. I say no when I am at the City Council.

How do you plan to deal with the abuse of placard holders (real and fake ones) Do you have any solutions for residential street parking?
Placard abuse and illegal parking is notoriously rampant in Lower Manhattan, especially in Chinatown where municipal and law enforcement employees get away with parking illegally simply by putting a parking placard on their dashboard. Recent blogs have the First and Fifth precincts running neck to neck on the worst culprit at placard abuse.

Mayor de Blasio was expected to announce new measures aimed at municipal employees who abuse city-issued parking placards that are intended to help them carry out their official duties, but too often are abused and contribute to clogged streets. Then COVID19 happened and the plan went nowhere.

Too many city employees brazenly display the placards while parked illegally — including in crosswalks, on sidewalks, in front of fire hydrants and blocking bus and bike lanes. Under the de Blasio administration, the number of city-issued placards has soared and the Mayor has done little to tackle the problem.

I support Speaker Corey Johnson and Councilmember Stephen Levin’s bill to compensate New Yorkers for tattling on their neighbors for illegally parking in bike lanes, bus lanes, and crosswalks, and on sidewalks, to help crack down on rampant placard abuse that for years has gone unchecked.


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