Monday, March 29, 2010

5 Minutes of Grace!

          Now that we are all basking in the spiritual oasis of no Alternate Side, and have so much extra time on our hands (see post below), I would like to hear some comments about this new 5-minute grace period? It was announced last week that PVB police must allow 5-minutes to pass once a muni meter expires or an Alternate Side Parking regulation goes into effect before they write a ticket. That's five New York minutes to finish a casual conversation with a noisy neighbor before you sprint down the avenue, 5 minutes to chat with your masseuse before you refill the meter, or 5 minutes to finally get to the front of that deli line.
          Speaking as a New Yorker, I could use all the extra grace the city can afford, but I find myself agreeing with our slightly ruffled Mayor even though he called us whiners a few years back because we didn’t feel we should have to hack our cars out of the ice floes of the latest winter storm. Are we getting soft? Is it worth it to blur the lines that we’ve already been living with for so many years? I thought all these Alternative Sides were about street sweeping. Does the Dept. of Sanitation now have to recalculate these time shifts into all of their schedules to allow us our extra minutes of grace? Can they ticket us if we refuse to move when they try to sweep during our grace period? They better not try to sweep away our grace. It’s not like they always sweep as it is. What about the businesses who depend on metered parking to keep the squatters moving and a fresh succession of shoppers coming?
          In an online NY Times article, Council speaker, Christine Quinn is quoted as saying “Issuing someone a ticket just two or three minutes past the time alternate-side goes into effect or your Muni-Meter stub runs out is simply unfair,” She added: “Not everybody’s watch in the city of New York is set at the same time,” meaning that “11 a.m. on somebody’s watch could be 11:02 a.m. at a traffic agent or police officer’s watch.”
          It sounds reasonable enough. It’s an allowance for the differences in our watches. So how will it work. Let’s see 5 minutes is 1/12 of an hour or about the amount of our sales tax (Maybe it’s a tax rebate!). Suppose you have a busy avenue with 1 hour of Alternate Side regulation followed by 11 hours of Metered Parking with a 1 hour maximum. You get 5 minutes grace period for the beginning of the Alternate Side and it seems only logical that somebody’s watch could be wrong at the other end of the hour. So do we have to start the metered parking early or is it also 5 minutes of free parking on the far end of the Alternate Side hour? I don’t think the purpose of this new grace period was to extend parking meter rules so looks like we catch a second 5 minutes of grace on the Alternate Side rule and doesn’t that also mean that the metered parking starts at 5 minutes grace past the hour giving us a little 10-minute window-with-a-view between regulations?
          Either way we have a minimum of 2/12 or 10 minutes off the allotted street sweeping time. Then at least 1/12 off of the far end of each maximum hour of metered parking, or is it 5 minutes off each end of each allotted hour because someone’s end could be (is usually) someone else’s beginning… What if you have 30 people who each park for 20 minutes but only 26 of them are looking to allow some grace into their lives? You were right Mrs. Drake. Looks like I needed that math after all.
          So to sum up, 5 minutes off of both sides or one side of each hour for a minimum of 60 minutes or maximum of [# to be determined when algebra-ready daughter returns home] hours off of 12 hours parking regulations. To quote our Vice President, this legislation is really is a big deal. But is this really grace and isn’t street parking in this city already enough of a word problem? I mean there must 8 million watches in this city. They can’t all be wrong!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Now Only 10 Days of Suspended Alternate Side – It’s Still Happening

The heavenly alignment of suspended Alt Side and other OFF days is still going on! Keep your car on the Mon. side and you are good (in most residential neighborhoods) until Thursday April 8!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Alternate Side Parking Suspended Forever!

          OK, not exactly forever, but this week we are heading into a such a rare harmony of Alternate Side Parking Suspended days and other OFF days that, barring the usual unexpected street construction, movie truck monopoly, and last minute rescheduling of major religious holidays, we do not have to move the car from Monday March 29 to Thursday April 8! This is truly a great time to be alive. It is a wondrous miracle of Spring. It is as if the Moon and the Sun were joined, as if the ebony keys and the ivory keys will be struck all together in one glorious celestial symphony. Such an eclipse of NYC parking rules is so rare that for it to occur again in our lifetime the stars would have to realign, the mountains would have to fall, 10,000 ages would have to come and go… OK, I don’t know exactly, but we will tell our grandchildren of this day. (For calendar questions, see a quick overview for all the suspended dates.)

(apologies to anyone unlucky enough to have Sat or Wed street cleaning, or those pesky meters, but you still have two nice stretches during this period)

          For many of us, we are looking at a magnificent 10 days! 10 unconditional days without government mandated traffic congestion; 10 carefree days without reddened, rubber necked searching; 10 blessed days with more time to spend with our friends and family, enjoy the warmth of Spring, find more tax deductions. 13, count em, 13 days without moving if you park the car on Fri 3/26! Say goodbye to our religious differences! This kind of Peace On Earth can only be achieved with the sacred songs of Christians and Jews. This pouring in of good vibrations from the cosmos is not just an old 60s feel good, New York high, it is a symbol of what is possible when all the voices of the world unite!
          This once-in-a-lifetime solar phenomenon can only be viewed with the naked eye. And you have more free time to see it! So when you are out on the street during this 10-day weekend be sure to have a look around. See what life in the suburbs is like with the same cars next door every day. See your neighbors walking hand and hand down the avenue and consider how they got that little extra Spring in their step. Notice the fresher air. Appreciate that you are in a moment like no other you will ever experience in your life.
          And now, a moment of silence for these most reverent Holidays:
                Passover (1st/2nd Days) Mar 30-31, Tue-Wed
                Holy Thursday Apr 1, Thu
                Holy Thursday (Orthodox) Apr 1, Thu
                Good Friday Apr 2, Fri
                Good Friday (Orthodox) Apr 2, Fri
                Passover (7th/8th Days) Apr 5-6, Mon-Tue
          Thank you Gods everywhere.

          Reality check! This will also be 10 days without street cleaning and, as annoying as it is for those of us who daily move our cars back and forth like a perpetual musical chairs but without the music, street cleaning is a necessary part of our life. However, one thing that could make it a little less necessary is if we could all just take a moment to STOP LITTERING! You heard me. Why can’t everybody (and you know who you are) take an extra moment to find a trash can when they need it? I mean really, why is anybody out there still throwing garbage on the street? We’ve had 40 years to get the littering messes up everybody’s space, is bad for the environment, teaches our children sloth message. What possible excuse can you have?
          I say make littering a Quality of Life Crime. Let’s go after it like we went after graffiti and noise. It’s time to start taxing those selfish, lazy, slippery fingered slackers. With the first year’s ticketing revenue, we could cure the deficit, the federal deficit I mean. Please feel free to email Mayor Bloomberg with this suggestion @ Contact the Mayor.
          I have.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Best Ticket I Ever Got

          It’s possible! Come one, we’re not just a bunch of whiny complainers despite what our 3-term Mayor says. To park a car on the street in this city means you’ve been able to see the same buildings that completely blocked your path and made you late yesterday fly by at high speed today; you’ve seen the Chrysler Building and the Brooklyn Bridge out opposite windows; you’ve seen the world from inside the pothole… You get my drift. We do all this for the privilege and we have agreed to pay for the privilege, so we are over it already. We are over the high registration and inspection fees, the high insurance costs, and, of course, we are over the on-the-spot code breaking of complicated and sometimes bizarre street parking rules. Sure we “Clicked to Accept” without really thinking about it, but we could have backed out a long time ago. We know if we want this city to be our oyster, we have to pay the automobile tax.
          Like the best of New Yorkers, once we “got over” we were able to enjoy the unexpected, the funny, and the incredibly lucky turns that all of this moving side-to-side, shifting prohibitions, exhausted late night headache that makes me want to whine and complain sometimes bring. Like that especially lasting quiet time you have to think about your Blog while you are looking for a parking space, or the time you got to see Brad and Angelina on location (in your parking space – hundreds of them!), or the parental bonding when you rediscover the joys of algebra with your daughter as you wait for the Street Sweeper to pass, not to mention sharing the thrill of a snow day with that pure childhood glee that other grownups, who don’t Alternate Side park, just can’t completely appreciate.
          So we get past the occasional tap on our wallets and can still manage to have a favorite ticket, the funniest ticket, the least hated ticket, the ticket that saved your life (for this last you should just plead Guilty). Mine is the ticket I got on a first date.
          It all started when I well was into my 30s. I had decided I was ready to settle down but it just wasn’t happening and the dating scene had begun to seem like a lot of work. I had tried the usual meeting places: classes, gyms, even gym classes, but even the most steamy (gym classes again) hookup ended with one hangup or another. So one day I vowed not to bother. My mother was already giving up on me anyway. But, just in case I was overreacting, I allowed that whenever I was invited to a party I had to go no matter what. That means even if someone from that Astrology Class I fell into called to invite me to a party, I had to go.
          Well, the stars did not come calling, but an old girl/friend did and invited me to a party that I did not want to go to. I always liked her, but knew it would not go any further with her and I had already been to several of her parties. I knew her friends. There was no point. To make a long story short, I went, had some warm words with my host and then, when I walked into the living room, was stopped frozen in one of those time/space moments we’ve all heard about. I pulled up a chair, had a very breezy conversation during which I managed to get this bright, exciting creature to agree to a date.
          The following Saturday I drove to pick her up and double-parked in front of her building. When I buzzed her, she invited me up. I explained I was double parked, but like so many NY auto-phobes, she cluelessly suggested that it was just for a minute. I know the romantics among you, men as well as women, are hoping that I did not mention the ticket to her, that I just stuffed it in a coat pocket or under the seat, that I didn’t even bother to look at it. And, after all, look at the bright side. I could have been towed (see previous Blog entry). But I did happen to mention it and I may even have betrayed my annoyance at the PVB and Parking Police in general. She seemed interested and asked to see it, looked it over carefully, and then threw it in the glove compartment as if it had nothing whatsoever to do with her.
          Then we arrived late to this awful play someone had recommended that was so bad we were the only members left in the audience at the end. This was made worse when the huge cast did a carefully orchestrated and choreographed curtain call. They came in and out in waves, in groupings small and large, from every angle, and their frozen grins and complete lack of self consciousness as they marched this endless parade in front of two people mechanically clapping in the front row made them seem even a little dangerous. Like they were recent furloughs from the local theatre-as-therapy farm.
          Such was our relief when we did manage to escape that the rest of the night was burst through with laughs about it all, that ticket being only one of the funniest. But the real reason why this is my favorite ticket, besides the fact that this was my first date with my wife, was that I realized that PVB sabotage, the god awful play, even my miserable failure to predict how difficult parking would be near the theatre, had nothing to do with the success or disappointment of the date. This perfect date thing is a figment of our imagination. We are led to believe by movies, TV, tabloids and magazines that the first date has to be perfect, that it cements a relationship’s future, but really it’s that very first meeting that is perfect and that takes place without any planning (stars not included). People either connect or they don’t and it happens anywhere, even in Traffic Court. A better test of a good relationship is the “forgiveness factor”. We get over what we can’t stand because we want to. And, even though I am not yet ready to forgive the PVB for everything they have done to us, that was one ticket I never did contest.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Crime With No Punishment

Here is an entertaining little story I found from The Consumerist about some real lowlifes who will lie to everybody and inconvenience anybody for a few more bucks. They put up phony NYPD No Parking signs (and cones!) to steer drivers to their nearby garage. The most amazing part is there doesn't seem to be any punishment meted out for depriving drivers of convenient, cheap parking; shop owners of business that was scared off; and the city of their meter fees.
Now if we rank those late night doormen who decorate our street curbs with their yellow paintbrush to shrink even further what little available parking space we have in the 3rd circle of Hell for Gluttony, how low should these imposters have to go? Why not show your opinion by answering our simple poll to the right.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Parking Regulations Made a Little Easier

The NYC Department of Transportation is offering a cool new service on their site. You can plug in a block’s street and its cross streets in the dialog box above and get a list of Parking Signs for that block. It’s not quite as easy to read (or skim) as the Street Parking Map, but it is yet another useful tool in the never ending puzzle of where and when to park. Check it out @ parking regs.