Who Parked in my Spot?!

Neighbors, cars, and "your" curb space.
This post is 3 in the series: Parking? Lots!

1 - Parking map_John Stahl, Seattle

On the subject of curb parking, everyone seems to have a story—and what the stories reveal is surprisingly important to the future of our cities. I’ve been asking my friends, and I’ve heard an earful. Listen.

Soon after advertising executive Necia Dallas moved into a house in Portland, Oregon, she found on her door a detailed, hand-drawn map specifying the curb spots where each resident was permitted to park. The map, left by an anonymous neighbor, indicated that Necia was welcome to park in front of her own house but that it was, “Optional! Because of your driveway. <smiley>” Jon Stahl of Seattle also got a parking map as a house-warming gift (pictured above).

2 - you'll be towed tomorrow note_Brent Bigler, Los Angeles

Photo by Brent Bigler.

To claim the spots in front of their homes, people resort to illegal yellow or red curb paint, earnest oral pleas, or—above all—notes left on the windshield. Lots and lots of notes. “Not here, man. Not here,” said one missive that Seattle architect Rik Adams got on his windshield. A West Seattle resident’s read, “Dear Driver, This is not a park and ride. We the neighbors would appreciate if you would find another spot to park.” Audrey Grossman’s said, “Don’t park your liberal foreign car on the American side of the street.” Brent Bigler of Los Angeles left a response to the note he found on his windshield in May and got an angry rejoinder. It says, among other things, “You’ll be towed tomorrow period.”(pictured).

3 - no parking sign, Shoreline

Photo by Necia Dallas.

Some people even put up their own, extra-legal no-parking signs, like the one pictured from Shoreline (or the one described here). More creative is Steve Gutmann’s Portland neighbor who “has a fake plastic parking meter that he puts on his planting strip in front of his house.”

To enforce their claims, neighbors sometimes go to great lengths. Shaun Vine, when he trespassed on a curb space in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, found his car boxed in. A homeowner had punished him by parking two autos bumper to bumper with Shaun’s. Worse is what happened to Jenny Mechem’s friend in Chicago who had the temerity to park in front of someone else’s house one winter day. Neighbors packed snow around his car and turned the hose on it, freezing it in place.

Renee Staton of Seattle says, “A neighbor unscrewed my windshield wipers (which flew off while driving on I-5 during a sudden downpour) and poured acid on my hood because I was parking in front of their house.” Natalie McNair’s Tacoma neighbor got in his extended-cab Ford truck, put it in low gear, and plowed Natalie’s parents’ Subaru Outback out of the space in front of his house. In San Francisco, Lisa Foster’s neighbor pushed her car into his driveway so that he could get it ticketed and towed. “I started using my emergency brake after that,” says Foster.

The good people of Washington, DC, have been known to egg curb intruders and Angelenos sometimes throw paint at interloping wheels. Mindy Cameron of Seattle remembers living in San Francisco and seeing an outsider park in front of a neighbor’s house. “The nice, otherwise calm, young professional neighbor,” she said, “came downstairs in his khakis and button-down shirt, and smashed in the guy’s front window with a baseball bat.”

A Brief History of Parking

Curb parking, it seems, is the stuff of neighborhood psy-ops. It brings out the crazy in people. And that fact—our intense, animalistic territoriality about curb parking—is among the fundamental realities of urban politics. It’s a root cause, I argue, of most of what’s wrong with how cities manage parking. And much is wrong with how cities manage parking. Consequently, somehow defusing or counteracting this territoriality could release a cascade of good news, if it allows cities to manage parking better. Parking policy is a secret key to solving urban problems ranging from housing affordability to traffic, from economic vitality to carbon pollution—plus a snarl of other ills. Parking reform is that important, as later articles in this series will document.

In this article, however, my goal is to explain how we got our current parking rules and why we may finally have a chance to undo them.

Most of a century ago, the tradition of free curb parking—a vestige of the age of horses and hitching posts—collided with exploding numbers of Model Ts and collapsed into clogged street sides, double parking, and epidemics of cruising for spaces. For city leaders, the competition among motorists for curb spaces became an unrelenting headache. Strategies for managing it were primitive. The crude and unevenly enforced first-come, first-served rationing system still in effect began to evolve: No Parking signs, 1-hour and 2-hour parking limits, loading zones, plus enforcement by parking agents. Later came parking meters: Seattle installed its first ones in 1942. Later still came resident-only parking districts in neighborhoods adjacent to busy destinations such as hospitals and universities.

Mostly, though, cities tried to solve the problem of crowded curb parking—and neighbors’ political pressure to keep newcomers out of the “their” spots—by building wider streets and boosting the supply of off-street parking. In the 1940s and 1950s, they began writing into their land-use regulations detailed requirements that each new building provide ample off-street parking—enough to accommodate every driver likely to visit that building without anyone spilling over onto the street. Seattle, for example, imposed parking minimums in 1958. For each type of building, whether an office, restaurant, grocery store, apartment building, auto parts store, or whatever else, city law imposed a prescription: two spaces per apartment, for example, or five per thousand square feet of retail floor space. The rules varied widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and they had, as I will explain in another article, no empirical basis whatsoever. In the words of UCLA professor and parking guru Donald Shoup, whose research on parking inspired this series, they were “nonsense on stilts.”

For all their analytical bankruptcy, however, their consequences were gargantuan. “Form,” architects sometimes quip morosely, “follows parking.” Parking rules dictated what designers could inscribe on their blueprints. Those diagrams then printed out across the urban and suburban landscape as what we now think of as classic sprawl: islands of building surrounded by seas of parking, big garages in front of big houses, courtyard apartments encircling asphalt, and other hideous built forms that Sightline fellow Alyse Nelson has detailed.

Most of these rules remain in place, an invisible but massive bulwark of off-street parking minimums, unreformed and rarely discussed. As a cure for curb-parking scarcity, they are worse than the disease. They’re like prescribing cigarettes as weight loss therapy: you’ll likely lose weight, all right, but you may ruin your health or even lose your life.

To change these rules, though, it’s critical to understand the political dynamic that created and perpetuates them.

The Politics of Parking

Curb-parking territoriality—the stuff of the stories I opened with, the indignant reaction many of us have when we see a car in front of our home and ask “Who parked in my spot?!”—is the key to understanding the dynamic. Like any pack-forming, territorial mammal, we want to expel interlopers. That primal, instinctual reaction is at the root of off-street parking requirements. Urban planners and lawyers may think of on-street parking as public property: a shared, public resource to be managed for the common good. Most home owners—and most voters—think of curb spaces as their own, their domain, their property.

Developers of new buildings, for their part, do not want to be told how much parking to install; it boosts their costs, limits their options, and trims their profits. On the other hand, as long as parking rules are citywide, developers can often pass much of the cost along to the future owners or tenants of their buildings.

Meanwhile, local officials, few of whom seek public office in order to adjudicate disputes over parking, are typically quick to take the path of least resistance. Confronted with territorial voters, they bury the “solution” to parking disputes in the arcana of the land-use code. They impose or maintain sweeping requirements for off-street parking. By doing so, they protect current residents of neighborhoods, and they send the bill for new parking into the future. Future residents will pay more for housing, and future businesses will pay more for commercial real estate. As result, there will be less of each. But these groups have no say over parking policy today. Professor Shoup likens this political dynamic to “taxing foreigners living abroad”: an unfair policy that virtually all politicians would adopt, if they could. Other ill effects of off-street parking mandates, such as upward pressure on grocery prices and the rest of a city’s cost of living, are so hidden and dispersed, that virtually no one recognizes them as a consequence of parking requirements.

From these conditions—curb parkers as territorial as baboon troops, developers able to pass along costs, and politicians capable of billing future newcomers—off-street parking requirements have emerged almost everywhere. They’ve done their job, massively inflating parking supply. In most parts of most towns, parking requirements boost the number of spaces enough that parking supply floods the market, and the price drops to zero. People park for free, and competition for curb spaces is minimal.

Specialists have been apoplectic about the perversity of off-street parking mandates almost since the rules spread across North America in the post-World War II years: the hidden costs to human health and safety, local economies, air quality, and housing affordability are stark. But change has not come. Reasoned arguments have not mattered. Why? Because the prevailing arrangement works in the one arena that actually matters to local elected officials: politics. Ample off-street parking quotas balance the political interests that count—current residents (especially property owners), incumbent businesses, and developers. Consequently, they’ve remained frozen in law for a long time.

Change for Parking

Now, though, conditions are gradually shifting, and the resulting thaw is beginning to favor reform. Demographics and driving patterns are different. Information technology is breaking up the ice floe of prevailing parking economies. And a new policy model for parking has emerged. It’s a new, three-step game plan from Professor Shoup that neatly reverses the vicious political circle perpetuating off-street parking mandates.

The steps are to:

  1. Charge the right prices for curb parking spaces,
  2. Return the resulting revenue to the neighborhoods from which it was collected, and then,
  3. Repeal off-street parking requirements.

The first step solves the original urban parking problem: overcrowded curb spaces. The second engages a political force (greed) that’s strong enough to neutralize parking territoriality. The first two steps, furthermore, eliminate the primary motive for off-street parking mandates. They set in motion a new, virtuous circle, in which communities no longer resist but instead seek to maximize on-street paid parking, because it funds projects that boost their property values and profits. This approach can convert communities from a defensive posture toward “their” spaces to a welcoming posture toward potential on-street parkers. It turns those parkers from interlopers to benefactors.

That’s a much-abridged version of the argument of this series. Next time, I’ll begin giving it a full exposition. In the meantime, you might amuse yourself by asking people you meet if they’ve ever had neighbors go crazy about people parking in “their” spots. Everyone seems to have a story.

 

Editor’s Note: You’ll find more on residential parking and housing in our new e-book, Unlocking Home: Three Keys to Affordable Communities, available for a limited time for free if you help us spread the word on it. Details at the link.

 

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Comments

  1. Eldan Goldenberg says:

    Immediately after seeing this post in my RSS feed, I read about a “traffic/parking dispute” in my neighbourhood that ended with a gun pulled, police being called and one party in jail: http://spdblotter.seattle.gov/2013/07/14/pointed-gun-during-traffic-dispute-lands-man-in-jail/

  2. portrait SteveG says:

    Thanks Alan. Some of these stories are hilarious. The maps reminded me of another anecdote…

    I take my daughters to piano lessons at the foot of Mt. Tabor. When we started, the always-polite and gracious teacher gave me (even though we usually bike) a map of where her students and their parents can and cannot park. The map is part of her new student orientation packet.

    I guess she has to appease her neighbors somehow, because her business (1 student at a time…) is such a MASSIVE traffic-generator!

  3. Mike says:

    I’m reminded of a story not too long ago in Manitoba – a woman was using a fake fire hydrant on her front lawn to prevent others from parking in front of her house. The story exploded when bylaw cops gave her a ticket for parking in front of her own fake hydrant.

  4. mike eliason says:

    alan,

    what are your thoughts on zuerich’s cap on parking spaces? when developers/owners add off-street parking, the city removes on-street parking and turns it back to the public (bike lanes, wider sidewalks, bike parking, etc). seems like an approach that wouldn’t be popular, but might help with the absurd entitlement issues here.

    • Alan Durning says:

      “Wouldn’t be popular” is right, and that makes it hard to see how any jurisdiction would enact such a policy in North America. But that’s not to say we cannot achieve great progress, by following the three-step plan outlined in the article. More on this in future pieces.

      • Alain Miguelez says:

        Zurich, like most cities in Europe, have different issues related to parking than we do in North America. In Europe they have genuine “either-or” debates about the attribution of space on narrow rights-of-way. We don’t have that problem in North America, our rights-of-way are too wide. If anything, we need to leverage on-street parking as a traffic calming measure to start improving the pedestrian realm. Our main problem in North America is too much free parking, which means people will drive. As long as it’s more convenient, faster, and parking is free, or even perceived as such, then people will drive. So, smart municipal actions have to be attached to that specific funny bone. The big question in North America is “how do you start”? And I agree that reducing or eliminating parking requirements is a good place to start.

    • Alan says:

      Parts of Manhattan have an off-street parking maximum, as a response to the Clean Air Act:
      http://www.streetsblog.org/2013/05/08/city-council-passes-changes-to-manhattan-core-parking-regulations/

      But the rest of the city, including Downtown Brooklyn which has just as much subway access as Manhattan, still has parking minimums: http://www.streetsblog.org/2012/06/05/if-dcp-wont-scrap-downtown-bk-minimums-is-broader-parking-reform-dead/

  5. Rebecca Wolfe says:

    I confess that I have felt resentment toward my neighbor who has left his old whale of a “beater” parked directly in front of my “garden” that is between my front yard fence and the sidewalk beside the quiet city side-street. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into trying to improve (beautify) that area with new plantings and weeding.

    He sometimes leaves it there for weeks on end. I have never spoken to him or complained about it, but I have wondered why he didn’t park it in front of his own property instead of mine. Being aware that I do not own the street — that it IS a public street — I’ve just tolerated the situation. This column has given me lots of think about.

    • Alan Durning says:

      Maybe just ask him politely if he wouldn’t mind moving his car, not because you have any right to the space but just as a favor to you. Later in this series, I’ll describe some systems that would make him pay for storing his vehicle on the public right of way — and the revenue would help pay for improvements in your community.

    • Alain Miguelez says:

      In my mind, this is part of the “organized chaos” of city life. It won’t all be tidy, it won’t all look the same. The sum is made up of the millions of small little parts, some are nice, some are ugly, most are in-between. A public street belongs to all taxpayers, right to the edge of the right-of-way. What you control as an owner is within your property lines. You can do your little piece of beautiful but you don’t control what your neighbour does, and your democratically-elected city council regulates what happens on a public street in the general public interest.

  6. Ross Williams says:

    As I recall, the property line for my home in Portland ran down the middle of the street. So, not only do people think they own the parking space, they actually do own it. This article demonstrates how misunderstanding the problem from a satellite level can lead to silly proposals for solutions on the ground.

    The problems of urban parking in dense residential areas have almost nothing to do with people being collectively “territorial”, like “baboons” . Instead, people are trying to defend an amenity for their individual home, the parking place on the street in front of it. The value of that parking space to them is enormous. They don’t have much interest in the parking spot down the street in front of their neighbors other than as a place for their guests to park.

    That means that you don’t need to create some collective fund. If you want to create a “market” solution, you just let people actually own the parking in front of their homes/businesses. Then allow them to put in parking meters and keep any revenue generated. Voila! You have the “right price” for parking. But you might find that for many residents, the “right price” is the one that is too high for anyone else to pay. They will price it ,based on its value to them, so there is always an empty space in front of their house.

    Many suburbs have “solved” this problem by simply banning parking on the street. Since the amenity no longer exists, no one fights about it. The problem with eliminating minimum parking requirements is pretty obvious. It allows developers to externalize the cost of one of the services required for their development.

    Of course if you can get Manhattan level densities and Manhattan-level transit alternatives then parking is not a required service. But there aren’t many places with those levels of services and density. To get there, you have to eliminate auto-dependency first, where many people choose not to own a car because they don’t need one.

    • Alan Durning says:

      The model you describe — privatization of curb spaces — is a variant of a model I’ll describe later in this series. So I’ll save my remarks on that for later.

      And you’re right that curb spaces are valuable assets. I’ll offer some estimates of their value in another article.

      Public streets are certainly not your private property, though. That’s more nonsense on stilts.

    • Alan Durning says:

      Just confirmed with an architect friend that the property line (at least in Seattle neighborhoods) is NOT in the middle of the street. In fact, it’s not even at the curb; it’s typically behind the sidewalk. I have not confirmed this for other cities, but I’d be surprised if it’s different. Most Cascadian cities were laid out in the same period, using similar methods.

      What may have confused you is that you measure from the middle of the street to find where your property begins. For typical Seattle streets, for example, you go 30 feet from the center of the street to find the beginning of your property. The public right of way includes, for a typical urban streetscape: sidewalks, planting strips, curbs, curb lanes and travel lanes. Property owners have responsibilities to care for the land between their property line and the curb, but it does not belong to them.

      • Alan Durning says:

        Color me surprised. A knowledgeable source in Portland informs me that the way Portland draws its property lines _is_ as you say from the center line of the street. But, as you and others have noted, the property owner has no rights to that land: it’s all a public right of way. That is, an easement of the land to the public overrides private rights to it. The only way to get the land back is if the city (or whichever governments has the right of way) vacates the right of way. This “vacation” sometimes happens for alleys but never for streets.

        Interesting, if obscure, legal details.

    • Rob Harrison AIA says:

      Can you imagine the chaos if people *did* actually own the street in front of their properties? Corner lots would become really valuable, especially if owners on the opposite sides of the street banded together. They could set up their own tolling stations!

      “Want to drive down 18th Ave NW? It’s my property! If you want to cross, pay up!”

      “I don’t believe in cars. I’m removing the pavement from my bit of street!”

      “Sorry, no parking for SUVs!”

      “Parking only between 1:17am and 4:13am. Violators will be towed.”

      Imagine the neighborhood meetings to decide whether to repave!

      There are aspects of cities that can only be collective, and having the routes to freely move around in a city without being subjected to the whims of random people is one of them.

    • asdf says:

      In most neighborhoods, this would not work in practice. Collection costs is one reason, but there is also a strong social pressure element in that loaning a parking space in front of your house to a friend is okay, but charging money for is being obsessive with money.

      To give an example of what happens when residents “own” the parking spaces in front of their house, I grew up in a house in a residential parking district just across the street from a high school that did not have enough off-street parking to accommodate most of its students of driving age. The whole block required a residential parking permit during school hours, which actually had an address written on it, so each homeowner effectively “owned” the parking spots in front of the home (at least on school days), even though the street was still public property.

      My parents opposed, out of principle, clogging the street with cars, so our permits mostly sat there, unused. But, they did, every year, loan a spot in our driveway (vacated each day by my parents going to work) to sons and daughters of their friends, friends of friends, etc. Word spread and, over time, informal multi-year waiting lists developed for use of the driveway. The thought of charging for the parking space was never seriously considered.

      It should also be noted that my parents were not the only ones on our block that informally loaned parking spaces to students that happened to ask first among those in our social circle. Our neighbor’s house usually had a student parked in his driveway. And, considering that the block’s street parking went from mostly empty to half full every school day, with nearly all the cars possessing valid resident permits, it is obvious that many residents on our block were loaning their parking permits to students, just as we loaned our driveway space to students.

      I don’t know how our neighbors who loaned their driveways or parking permits chose to allocate them, but given that I never heard of any specific cases of permits or driveway spots for sale, nor did I ever see signs advertizing such, my guess would be that all or nearly all of the spaces that were given to students were given the same way that we did – for free, as a social favor, to people who knew us.

    • Jennifer Mechem says:

      The good thing about Manhattan-level density and transit options is that it discourages car ownership by making the cost high and the alternatives attractive; the bad thing about it is that it creates even worse insanity about parking, especially when you factor in the alternate-side street cleaning. We visited Manhattan last week and stayed with friends on the Upper East Side. On the weekend, it was easy to find street parking within a block or two. But Monday morning was unbelievable: on street-cleaning days everyone moves their cars and double-parks on the opposite side of the street to wait for the street cleaners to pass. You can go back and park on the other side afterwards, but you have to remain in your car until 10 am even if the street has already been cleaned. There were no pay lots or parking garages anywhere nearby (at least not that I saw). Many people appeared to be working in their cars, with computers or phones. I also saw a number of people sitting on front stoops just waiting. One guy moved three cars as soon as the sweepers passed – perhaps he was a car-sitter hired for the purpose? That would be a logical response to the problem: it adds to the cost of car ownership and provides a small economic boost to someone else.

  7. Doug Klotz says:

    Ross was speaking in more legalese than others may realize. In some sense you do “own” to the center of the street. When the developer created the lots, he/she was probably required to “dedicate” street “easements” to the city for “transportation” and probably other infrastructure purposes. However, when the city decides it no longer needs a street for these purposes, it can “vacate” the street, and each half of the street is returned to the adjacent property owner.

    However, in the time in between, you may “own” the property of the street, but you have ceded all rights to it to the city for as long as the city feels the need to use it. You have given the city the “right of way”, the right to pass on it, for instance. (Some lawyers can correct this).

    This is, I believe, true on most local streets. Some arterials have “rights of way” that the city (or the state) actually bought, and in those cases the government entity does own the street right of way. (I believe this is called “fee simple” ownership).

    Most of this is moot, though, as the adjacent property owner does not have the right to control the street area. You really can’t say you pay taxes on it either, as taxes generally are not by the square foot, but by the market value of the land, regardless of size. Narrowing your lot by 3 feet doesn’t necessarily remove any value. It’s determined by the market.

    • Jill says:

      In my city, and county for that matter, some property owners DO own to the middle of the road, and an easement to the public is granted through the highway district that has jurisdiction and maintains that road. It is not an unusual issue at all.

      In some cases, the road is truly a public right of way and has been dedicated to either the respective city or the highway district. (The county does not have a street or public works department that maintains the roadways; rather the county is divided into various highway districts which are responsible for the maintenance of and the expansion of the road system in their jurisdiction.)

      There are those occasions where a single road may have city owned right of way, highway district right of way, AND private easement across property that is owned to the center of the road. It comes down to what the deed describes for that individual property. When the city annexes property into the city limits the right of way is also annexed into city as well. If it was not dedicated right of way, it becomes such, as the property owner is required to dedicate it as part of the annexation agreement.

      Most roads outside the city limits, are designed with a typical street section that would not even accommodate any type of onstreet parking, so parking on them is not an issue. My City is suburban/rural with the development of more urban typical street sections (curb, sidewalk, grassy swale, street trees) in the last five years. Most of our roads have no sidewalks, just a grassy swale on each side of the road.

      But.. on the streets that DO have parking on one or both sides, we often get complaints about cars parking IN THE PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY, in front of someone’s home. We have a provision that you can’t park a recreational vehicle on the street or vehicle for more than 48 hours at a time.

      • Alan Durning says:

        Thanks for your clarifying the legalities, Doug and Jill.

  8. Eric says:

    Heck, I once lived in a place where neighbors left notes on our car when we parked in front of our own residence. When I was in school, I had a summer internship in Seattle and rented out a basement mother-in-law apartment with my girlfriend (now wife) in a relatively affluent single-family neighborhood.

    As our landlords were using the house’s only garage, we parked our car by the curb in front of the house, in a completely legal street parking space. Near the end of the summer, we got an unsigned note from another neighborhood resident complaining that the location of our car was a safety hazard to traffic entering and exiting the neighborhood, that it was difficult to avoid hitting our car on the way past.

    The street did have a curve in it near our home, but it was still plenty wide enough for a car to pass safely, as long as the car was traveling at less than double the speed limit and its driver had at least as much manual dexterity and reaction time as a three-toed sloth.

    We kept parking there despite the note, because why should we move? We were in a legal parking spot in the public right-of-way, and in front of our own house besides! A week or two later we got another note chastising us for ignoring the first note. They said we were not very neighborly for refusing what they thought was a very reasonable request, and threatened to report us to the City for occasionally parking in the same spot for more than 72 consecutive hours without moving.

    We were technically breaking that parking rule, as I took the bus to work and my girlfriend worked from home, and so we fairly often went 72 hours without needing to use the car. However, it was in an area of the city where curb parking is relatively plentiful and so the rules aren’t really enforced unless someone complains.

    Needless to say, we picked a different neighborhood when we moved back to Seattle for the long haul.

    • Orv says:

      I once dealt with the 72-hour rule for a legally registered but (temporarily) non-running car by pushing it back and forth between two spaces every few days. ;)

      • JohnS says:

        That law (while certainly abused on occasion) does come in handy, though. Where I live in the Central District, we had serious problems with abandoned (often stolen) vehicles. So I kept a close eye on the cars on our half of the block, and if they hadn’t moved after 3 days *and* I didn’t recognize them, I called them in. At least a half-dozen times in three years, the cars had been stolen.

        It also really, really pays (in so many ways) to know your neighbors, and their vehicles as well. Talking to your neighbors (as Alan suggested in a comment above) is such a good idea; I wish more of us did.

  9. BeaterLove says:

    Five old beaters parked on the street because “the street is public.” Are the beaters insured as required by law? No? Oops. Bye-bye, public parking. Hello garage and driveway. :o)

  10. Amija says:

    My neighbors have 5 cars and a boat. They leave a car parked in the space in front of their house so no one can park there, have a boat and a truck in their driveway, and then want to park in front of my house. When I asked them not to, they told we didn’t need the space. Really? So you don’t want anyone parking in front of your house but I can’t ask you not to park in front of mine?

  11. CT says:

    I grew up in Brooklyn where street parking is first come first serve. Now that I am in New Jersey I live in a corner lot and once in a while neighbors visitors park on the street on side and in front of my house which I dont usually mind. However I have a storefront in a strip mall and it pisses me off when someone parks in front for more than an hour.

  12. Aaron says:

    My uncouth neighbors have now parked an old black F150 pickup, bed full of trash, right up against my relatively young oak tree on my parking strip. Despite (because of?) my objections. Ah, life in the blue collar suburbs.

  13. Cliff says:

    Using punitive measures such as parking scarcity to get people to drive less may or may not end up making for less pollution. Driving around and around looking for a parking spot pollutes, wastes time and affects quality of life for everyone. (Witness many neighborhoods in San Francisco and Brooklyn.) Yes, it would be better for our health, our air and for our planet to drive less – a lot less. But until there really are adequate transportation alternatives that support all the various needs of people to move goods, children, the elderly, those with injuries and the disabled, parking scarcity is a big mistake. I do not want to see people with mobility issues or parents with toddlers have to park a block or more from homes and ferry self and groceries to and from the car. Your solution seems built on a certain level of youth, singleness and fitness that is not universal. It smacks of smugness, self-righteousness and the inability to perceive the needs of others.

    • Jeremy says:

      Americans, a mere 5% of the world population, burn 25% of its energy, and certainly do not enjoy any higher quality of living or lower health care costs for all that waste—giving up those cars would be a great way to eliminate at least one, ah, spare tire, so to speak. Loosening the belt, via an overabundance of parking, well, it’s one way to fatten the sacred cars.

      By the way, the cheap Carbon is running out, and the alternatives are market failures (electric cars) or market dreams due any decade now, no really! and nobody is really paying to maintain the roads: gas tax changes, AWOL for over two decades. What’s the plan? Hard work and getting back to the basics? Oh no, certainly not in America, land of kick-the-consequences-down-the-now-crumbling-road. Keep on driving!

      • doreene says:

        And this is why the NW is known for bats in the belfry, passive aggressive, leave a note on your car as if it is legal notice …, sigh, self entitled nut-bags. Unless I am breaking an actual law, have checked myself to see if I am not just being a selfish parker, I will park where I am legally allowed. Notes do not faze me and God help the self entitled individual who thinks they can outargue me on this. Heck, I don’t even own a car most times. The home owners have perfectly fine driveways. So if they have more than two cars and only a one car driveway, who is being selfish then?

  14. portrait benschon says:

    Insight from India: the territoriality and irrational behavior around parking spaces exists exactly because spaces are free/unpriced. http://t.co/7MIyN28epH

    That makes a lot of sense to me. If it’s the Wild West, and no obvious entity regulates distribution (via payment, lottery, permit, etc.), everyone will scramble to get their piece of a scarce resource. This may be an acceptable way to distribute the candy that falls out of a broken pinata, but not valuable urban land.

    • B walsh says:

      Already, the income inequality in this country has created a sense of entitlement to public resources by those who are exceedingly fortunate…and using a “pay for valuable space” further erodes any concept of the public good. A wealthy neighbor forbade my son from parking his deceased father’s car (before it could be sold) from the front of her home, on either side of it, and across the street from it. And recently, a visitor was yelled at by another wealthy neighbor (“This isn’t the first time I have told you!!!…”) to move her car from the shared curb space between our two homes. Pricing it out will only give more public resources to the wealthy, and squeeze out, yet again, the rest.

  15. Liz says:

    I agree with the man who used a sign it is not a parking ride.

  16. Bekah says:

    So I have a question about curb side parking. In doing research for an issue that just arose in my home of now 3 years I am now no longer aloowed to park in front of my own home nor is anyone else.. The city just did a renovation of the water and gas lines that needed the side walks to be tore out and replaced. After all the work was finshed they decided to put a side walk entrance smack dab in the middle of the “right a way” in front of my home. I was told by the police dept that if any vehicle (mine or my guest) were blocking this entrance they will be ticketed. Is it approiate for me to file a complaint to the city and to expect for something to be done? I live on a dead end and yes I do have a garage and enough parking for 2 other cars in my drive ways w/o blocking the side walk but if we have a get together we def need the spot in front of my house. I understnd all states maybe different when it comes to laws and parking. TIA for any replies and sheding some light on my current situation.

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