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Permits to park slashed for teachers in Queens

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In the latest phase of a yearlong crackdown on city employees' parking privileges, Mayor Michael Bloomberg last week announced an 82 percent reduction in the number of parking placards for teachers and other public school employees.

Last school year the city Department of Transportation issued 63,390 placards to teachers and school workers. This year 11,150 will be given out, after the mayor's office found there were roughly 10,000 designated parking spaces for teachers citywide.

"The number of placards is now equal to the number of spaces, the thinking being that when you have more placards than spaces ... some people will think they have a privilege they really don't," said mayor's spokesman Jason Post.

How the move will affect Queens remains unclear.

"I don't think it will affect Queens more so than other boroughs," said City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), the Council's Transportation Committee chairman.

"The mayor has reduced parking placards across all the city agencies by significant amounts. And that has affected police officers, firefighters, agency workers and now teachers," Liu said. "It stinks if you used to have a placard and they're taking it away from you, but on the other hand, it does begin to make the policy more uniform across the board."

Randi Weingarten, the United Federation of Teachers president, praised Bloomberg's decision as a compromise that preserved the number of physical parking spots for teachers, unlike other agencies. A shortage of teacher parking spots has always been a problem in the city, she said.

"Although I would rather the city not change the process right now, the agreement the UFT reached with the city continues the number of available spots and more closely aligns the number of placards with the number of spots," she said in a prepared statement. "And it brings the decision on who gets the spot to the school level where it belongs."

The nonprofit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives also hailed the reduction.

"For the million kids who attend New York City public schools, this reform means safer streets," said Executive Director Paul White. "We hope it puts an end to the lines of double-parked cars and blocked crosswalks that plague every city school."

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at jwalsh@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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