Big Swath of Parking Spots Swiped on W. 67th. Locals Peeved at ABC’s Press-Only Privileges

Parking reserved for press now spans almost the entire block of W. 67th between CPW and Columbus.

By Joy Bergmann

Last week, residents of West 67th Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue awoke to “NYP License Plates Only” signs spanning almost the entire south side of the block. Without any forewarning, 18 public parking spaces disappeared so that reporters – presumably from ABC News – with New York Press [NYP] plates could have them for their exclusive use.

Multiple incensed tipsters wrote to West Side Rag, indicating that this parking kerfuffle was just the latest “misery” for folks living near ABC. They asked: What gives?

According to a Department of Transportation [DOT] spokesperson, the 67th Street spots are to replace ABC’s current allotment of NYP parking on the north side of 66th Street between CPW and Columbus. Why? Because that 66th Street stretch will soon be used to accommodate construction equipment for Extell’s proposed 775-foot residential tower at 50 W. 66th.

“Lend Lease Construction [sic] is permitted to occupy all footage directly across from their site plus 30’ in both directions to enable the concrete pour phase of their residential housing project,” the DOT said in an emailed statement to WSR. [Lendlease is constructing for Extell, according to posted signs at the building site. Extell’s spokesperson would not confirm the relationship.] “The expeditor, Code LLC, says the work is scheduled until 2022. Lend Lease will install the “No Standing Temporary Construction” signs along the North curb of W66th Street as required, effectively removing the NYP parking.”

DOT continued, “The NYP spaces that were relocated to W. 67th Street are along the back of the ABC building and do not interfere with any residential dwellings along that curb line. DOT installed 18 NYP Authorized Vehicle Only spaces, removing 3 from their original 21 space allotment due to this fact. Also left intact on W. 67th Street was the already established metered parking.”

Though DOT has presented this situation as a swap of sorts, the NYP-only parking signs remained in place on 66th Street as of Tuesday. That makes a total of approximately 39 spots held in reserve – and many unused. Plus, WSR counted 12 NYP-only spots along 66th between West End Avenue and Freedom Place near ABC’s second UWS campus.

To be fair, it’s possible that CNN or CBS employees with NYP plates could be parking in these spots and walking to studios at Columbus Circle and 57th Street. But it’s much more likely that ABC employees are enjoying this valuable perk. Doing the math, if a reserved spot in a garage is worth $500 a month, times 51 spots equals an annual $306,000.

Whoever may be using the spaces, Disney/ABCTV Group spokesperson Charissa Gilmore says, “We did not request the move of spots to 67th Street,” noting that the ABC team was apparently as uninformed as the neighborhood about the parking change.

Community Board 7 chair Roberta Semer says CB7 wasn’t consulted about the NYP parking switcheroo, “It hasn’t come before us.”

“Nothing to do with anything we’re doing,” added Dara McQuillan, a spokesperson for Silverstein Properties, ABC’s current landlord. Silverstein purchased both ABC campuses in July and is leasing back the properties to Disney for up to five years while Disney builds a new ABC headquarters downtown.

NYPD says they were similarly uninvolved. “We have nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with that sign change,” Capt. Timothy Malin of 20th Precinct told WSR. “The NYPD does not determine signage. DOT does.”

So, it’s still unclear who initiated the switch, whether the switch is temporary or permanent and perhaps the biggest puzzler of all: Why do TV journalists need reserved NYP parking anyway? When they head out on a breaking story, they’re in a mobile unit production van, not someone’s Kia.

ABC’s Gilmore didn’t have an answer for that one. “We keep our mobile trucks in the garages at West End and 66th.”

New Jersey commuters can also obtain NYP plates.

Tipster TH – who lives on the affected 67th Street block – is fed up. “This is a residential neighborhood. Residents should have the first priority for street parking…why should businesses be given such privileges?”

Mary-Claire Barton – who has lived at 50 W. 67th for 14 years – says it’s the latest affront from an “arrogant” company that “doesn’t care.” She cites past problems with bright lights, litter, noise and congestion. “Last week, LIVE with Kelly and Ryan did some stunt in front of our building…obstructing traffic from early morning until 11 after the show, ” she says. Another resident said those kinds of street closures and obstructions seem to happen “all the time.”

Asked about the quality of life complaints, an ABC spokesperson said “ABC does a lot for the community, especially WABC, New York’s top news station.”

An industrial AC unit and renovation dumpster add to current congestion on the 67th Street block.

Adding to the squeeze, ABC has had a giant mobile air conditioning unit parked in two 67th Street spots since July. Gilmore says it’s needed to supplement a broken system until repairs can be made. There’s also a major sidewalk repair project happening at 27 W. 67th. And there’s a huge dumpster for a residential renovation project sitting in several other spaces.

“There’s no room for us to park,” says Richard, a building employee at 75 Central Park West. “Nobody’s happy.”

But ever-resourceful New Yorkers are already developing workarounds. “NYP license plates are going to be in high demand on the 67th Street black market,” says Barton. “If you have one, make me an offer!”

NEWS | 42 comments | permalink
    1. Juan says:

      For the millions they are going to make, the developers should pay the cost of putting these NYP cars in a garage. And I have no idea why they need so many. If it was 4 or 5, I don’t think anyone would be nearly as bothered.

      • A. Realist says:

        Re: “And I have no idea why they need so many.”

        BECAUSE these are private vehicles obviously belonging to WABC-TV news staffers who commute to their jobs, just like any other workers.

        Who are WE to judge how many staffers are needed or how they should commute.

    2. Alta says:

      Using publicly owned street space for the press seems like a much better public use/benefit to me than using it to store 18 privately owned personal vehicles that only benefit their owners.

      If I don’t get to store boxes/extra furniture/holiday decoration on the street, why should others feel entitled to store their personal cars?

      • dannyboy says:

        Yes, please proceed “to store boxes/extra furniture/holiday decoration on the street”.

        Feel free,nNo entitlement is restricting you.

    3. Art says:

      I googled “NYC Traffic Rules” and in section 4-08 found the parking privileges of vehicles with commercial, handicapped, and even diplomatic license plates. I didn’t see anything addressing NYP plates. Are members of the press allowed to occupy these spaces merely for commuting, or does there need to be some link between the parking privilege and gathering/reporting news?

    4. Patrick Tucker says:

      Maybe this is dumb but why can’t ABC simply purchase garage space for their employees and leave street parking to residents of the neighborhood?

      • dannyboy says:

        You are seeing what I am seeing.

      • EricaC says:

        You can just as easily ask why people who choose to have cars in a city with taxis, Uber, Via, Lyft and, of course, public transportation shouldn’t have to pay to store their vehicles.

        I have a car; I do pay for a garage (and enjoy the tax-exemption for city residents). I may well get rid of the car once my need for it ends because it is so expensive (the garage is literally more than my rent was when I first moved to the city, though that is partly because that was decades ago). I don’t actually think that everyone should have to do that, but I do think that before we start questioning other people’s’ privileges, it’s worth remembering that we enjoy privileges too – and a private person parking their car for free on a city street is definitely enjoying a privilege just as much as the press is.

      • Anon says:

        They used to have discounted parking in one of the garages but stopped a few years ago. It’s rediculous because most of the cars parked there don’t even have NYP plates, they are basically people that got lucky and someone hooked them up with a pathetic looking parking permit.

    5. crymeariver says:

      Boo-Hoo. First world problems.

    6. Warren says:

      I find it hard to believe that ABC was unaware of this, who else would have inititiated the move? This is just another assault on neighbors by ADC/Disney who view West 67th Street as their own private kingdom.It will be a great day when they move out! #boycottmickey

    7. bb says:

      Time to Take the signs down

    8. T H says:

      One of the DOT comments cited above says ” The NYP spaces that were relocated to W. 67th Street are along the back of the ABC building and do not interfere with any residential dwellings along that curb line.” Wrong. The allocated spaces are located in front of ABC frontage AND in front of residential buildings on the south side that have nothing to do with ABC.

    9. chase says:

      seems like there’s some bad blood there with some neighbors. just a week or so ago I was walking thru on w67s as ABC was loading in some gear and a neighbor was yelling from the window to shut up because it was loud. The moves told them to shut the window.

    10. Josh P. says:

      “This is a residential neighborhood” – clearly not if ABC studios are on the same block. ABC has been there since 1989, so they aren’t exactly new comers to the neighborhood.
      Also I love the idea of assigning a value of $500/month to each on street parking space. It highlights the massive waste of turning valueable public land into a free parking lot. Those spaces should all charge a market rate and lower income residents could apply for discounted permits. It’s class warfare to essentially give $500/month of public money to the fancy cars I see on the UWS.

      • ntsc says:

        I got to ABC in 1976 and they were on 66th ST a long time before I got there.

        Prior to 1989 they were vacant lots with trailers

      • PCB says:

        ABC has been in the neighborhood since at least 1979 (not 1989). I worked there from 79 to 89. Back then, there were many NYP spots at Columbus Circle. All gone now. Parking stinks in NYC. Always has and always will.

      • DW says:

        ABC has been on West 66th St/West 67th Street since 1949 actually, when they converted Durland’s Riding Academy into studio space. They also used ballrooms of the former Hotel des Artistes, connected by tunnel under 67th St to the 7 West 66th St site. And they will be fixtures there for the next 5-6 years before their new HQ by the Holland Tunnel is finished.

    11. young man! says:

      So exactly what does one need to do to get a NYP plate – just work for Disney/ABC?
      I can see maybe giving NYP plated cars a certain parking grace period at the scene of a crime or newsworthy event but not in front of their offices just so they can commute in from NJ/LI/Westchester…

      Maybe they should put up special signage and give out special plates to people who work in the local stores so they can park too.

      Seems like people who work for the press are getting a special privilege that has nothing to do with their work other than not having problems finding parking every morning.

      • Woody says:

        Police officers and firemen get the same free parking privilege when they drive in from their homes outside of NYC. Maybe we should take that freebie away from them, too.

      • geoff says:

        i would throw into that notion the police and firefighters as well. those civic jobs pay vey well, and i don’t understand why they come with parking perks.

        dedication, bravery and (maybe) danger have nothing to do with the commute to work.

        when those same type of employees are volunteering their service, it’s a different matter, and might be worthy of a parking perk.

    12. chuck d says:

      Hey WestSideRag, will you please do us a favor and report on the parking situation between Amsterdam and Columbus on 100th Street? The cops and firemen treat that street like their own private country club. They’ll block you in, and then play dumb about it. They’ll even give you a ticket if you try to back out of the spot that they’ve blocked you in to!

      I’m all for the cops, and certainly they could have someone help park the cars for them (community service anyone?), but instead they just act like entitled jerks.

    13. Gary says:

      Why should the press get parking spots? Everybody has to take public transportation except for the #fakenews?

    14. Harold says:

      They work for a living. So do we.
      They get free parking space. We don’t.
      They research news. We do our thing at work.
      Wish this was fake news.

    15. Anon says:

      Most of the people parking in those spots don’t even have NYP plates. They have bogus parking permits with the abc logo. Unbelievable that they are doing this to the residents in the area, it’s hard enough for us to find parking.

    16. Bill Williams says:

      Why should press be entitled to special parking? This should be eliminated citywide.Let them use mass transit or pay for a garage.

    17. UWS40 says:

      It will only get worse.

      Larry Silverstein bought Disney/ABC buildings for condos.

      Disney/ABC moving down to Varick Street.

    18. 81st Street Dweller says:

      The same thing happened to us on W. 81st betw CPW & Columbus. AMNH swiped all daytime parking spaces on the south side of the street to give easier access to school buses entering the museum. One AMNH high-up said, “We’ve been waiting years for the city to do this. We finally got it.” We appreciate all the good things about AMNH, but it doesn’t need to expand any more into our ‘hood. They’ve already taken away far more than they could ever give back.

    19. Pedestrian says:

      Does ABC pay for these spots? If not why not?

      When a developer takes up side walks and a street does it pay the city for that space? If not why not.

    20. Ethan says:

      In response, let’s see if I can sound like some of the usual antagonistic denizens of these upper west side fora:

      “Oh boo-hoo for you West 67th residents; so sad that you’ll have to pay a few dollars to park your Porsches and monster SUVs in a garage. You and your first world problems! Don’t you realize that corporations (like ABC) are people too??!! They bring prestige (and dollars) to the neighborhood. So enough with your sniveling-liberal rants.”

      Could that pass muster?

    21. Theresa says:

      You are not enetitled to free parking just because you have lived here forever. Pay a garage or get rid of your car.

    22. Diane says:

      Hey WestSideRag,
      Do you guys get NYP plates and, if so, do you need any new reporters?

    23. Susan says:

      AMNH “swiped” spots in front of their W. 77th St. entrance for buses also. Then they slowing crept up the block and took a few more. I found out about the “creep” the hard way: they towed my borrowed car. Good times.

    24. PAUL PECORARO says:

      COMPLAIN ABOUT EVERYTHING. OH, YEAH, I USED TO PARK THERE.MOST OF THE TIME I WORKED THE 4-12PM SHIFT.I DIDN’T HAVE NYP PLATES. YOU KNOW WHAT? I SAT ON 67TH ST. AND HAD A SPOT IN 20-30 MINUTES. I DIDN’T COMPETE WITH ANY RESIDENTS; WE GOT TO KNOW WHO WAS WHO AND WHO LIVED WHERE. IF YOU CAME TO ME AND ASKED IF YOU COULD HAVE THE NEXT SPOT I’D SAY “SURE, BE MY GUEST !” OR “CAN YOU SWITCH SPOTS WITH ME BECAUSE IT’S GOOD UNTIL TUESDAY” NO FIGHTING NO ROAD RAGE, JUST COURTESY. I DID THIS FOR ALMOST 30 YEARS. THAT’S WHAT HAPPENS IN TELEVISION WHEN YOUR WORK SCHEDULE IS ALL OVER THE PLACE. JUST NEIGHBORS BEING NEIGHBORS. CIOA

    25. John says:

      Being a former ABC’r, many of those people with NYP Plates may work for ABC News, but as in house Execs, producers, writers and technicians…. not the “working press” or working News Vehicles. Which is the intent of those plates.

    26. With held says:

      Many NYP plates are given to non reporters as a perk. Fake Parkimg

    27. Mary- Claire Barton says:

      A Couple of Recent Observations on Parking/W, 67th. Because the new signs simply say: NYP Parking Only, our side of the street has not been cleaned in a week; additionally after 6 pm, half the spots are empty. Even temporarily, the signs should be changed to allow for alternate side cleaning twice a week, and open useage from 6 pm.- 8 am. mcb

    28. chris woo says:

      I don’t have an NYP plate but I believe very few people who work in the press ever get them because each news organization is limited to how many they can issue. Supposedly they are so that people can gather news … ie if they have to go to the courthouse for a breaking news story or to file something you can’t have a reporter not be able to cover a story because they are looking around looking for parking. Anyway that is my understanding.