A new way to skirt the city’s speeding laws: novelty license plates.

2 minute read

October 5, 2023, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Yellow and blue novelty New York state license plate with NEW YORK plate.

Elisa / Adobe Stock

If you’ve ever bought a novelty New York license plate at one of those tourist shops in Manhattan, you may have bought yourself more than just a silly souvenir: it turns out they also “allow you to speed with impunity and never get caught,” reports Gersh Kuntzman in Streetsblog NYC.

According to Kuntzman’s research, novelty plates labeled NEW YORK have been cited by New York City traffic cameras and actual cops over 300 times. This became a problem for the owner of the actual NEW YORK vanity plate, who has never driven his car in New York. “The out-of-town guy's tickets are routinely dismissed because they're clearly not legit, but that's not the point. The point is, just as congestion pricing is about to start, there's an entirely new front in the war on fake plates and ghost cars ... and the city of New York is outmanned, outgunned, outnumbered and out-planned (as Lin-Manuel Miranda might say).”

While the examples given by Kuntzman in the article are humorous, they are also alarming—“especially because at one point last year, the DOT admitted that its cameras couldn't read the plates on more than 7 percent of the cars that were speeding or running reds, as Streetsblog reported.” This could have an impact on the city’s new congestion pricing program, which will largely rely on cameras for enforcement.

Monday, October 2, 2023 in StreetsBlog NYC

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Close-up of maroon California 'Clean Air Vehicle' carpool lane access sticker on the back bumper of a silver Tesla vehicle.

California EV Owners To Lose Carpool Lane Privilege

A program that began in 1999 to encourage more electric car ownership is set to expire next year without Congressional and state action.

April 2, 2024 - San Francisco Chronicle

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

Google street view of grassy lot next to brick church with elevated freeway on other side in Houston, Texas.

Houston Supportive Housing Development Sparks Debate

Critics say a proposed apartment building would negatively impact the neighborhood’s walkability.

April 12 - Houston Chronicle

Closed black wrought iron gate in front of gated residential community with large palm trees along sides of street.

Friday Funny: Gated Community Doubles Down

The Onion skewers suburbia.

April 12 - The Onion

Aerial view of Chicago with river in foreground.

‘Cut the Tape’ Report Takes Aim at Inefficiencies

A set of recommendations from the Chicago mayor’s office calls for streamlining city processes to stimulate more residential and commercial development.

April 12 - Block Club Chicago

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.