Illegally parked cars claim NYU affiliation to dodge tickets

WSN spotted several cars sporting faked parking placards claiming affiliation with Campus Safety and the security officers union parked illegally near Washington Square Park. NYU and the security workers union have denied distributing the placards.

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WSN found that some cars have used fake placards associated with the university to illegally park near campus. (Photo by Caleb Pisoni)

Caleb Pisoni, Contributing Writer

Cars using placards indicating an affiliation with NYU and Campus Safety’s security officers union have been parked illegally near university buildings a block away from Washington Square Park, on Greene Street and Washington Square South, over the past few months. The vehicles displayed a number of unofficial placard designs, including the NYU and union logos.

Fountain Walker, the head of Campus Safety, confirmed that the university does not distribute the placards. A spokesperson for the Local One Security Officers Union, which represents security workers at NYU, said that although the union does distribute placards for vehicle identification, it was not responsible for issuing most of the signs that WSN found.

“The intent is to identify and assist a Local One member in case they have car trouble,” Michael Pidoto, the union president, said. “The identifier also serves as a deterrent since there has been an uprise in vehicle theft and vandalism. We encourage all of our members to obey all street parking regulations.”

David Vargas — a worker for Collins Building Services, a company enlisted by NYU for facilities maintenance — parks his car near Washington Square Park while on the job. He said that he and his coworkers use these placards to avoid parking tickets.

The Twitter account @placardabuse has been documenting illegal parking by cars with Local One placards since 2018. The account’s administrators said they are frustrated with the failure of NYU and the New York City Police Department to address fake parking passes.

“It really reflects poorly on NYU leadership that they allow the Campus Security office to teach a model of petty everyday corruption to the students who they are supposed to be shaping into tomorrow’s leaders,” an account manager said. “The daily lesson from all the placard corruption on campus is that you can gain privilege and status by cheating.”

During a one-week period, WSN found that NYPD officers rarely ticketed cars with placards parked in no-parking zones, even while cars without placards were ticketed nearby. In 2019, the city passed a set of bills intended to address incidents of fake placard use.

The NYPD has a record of parking illegally, but responses to 311 complaints about illegal parking filed on the city’s website, which are handled by local precincts, have been reported, but remain unaddressed.

Contact Caleb Pisoni at [email protected]