Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Streetparker's Oscar picks

You may want to hold off on that Oscar pool. parallespaces has the most likely winners, in the most important categories, right here. So, with no more delay:

For Best Acting Bernie Madoff edges out Mayor Bloomberg in this one although hizzoner’s artful gesturing with a few snow plows almost made his harsh restoring of Alt Side rules in the impossible Winter conditions believeable. But Bloomberg only reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars and some of it probably went to good use.

Best Supporting Actress Jada Khan handily defeats all comers for her Transportation department’s “I want to be left alone.” When asked by the NY Times where the next traffic pattern change and reduction of parking spaces was going to occur, they refused to answer. She is a public official and her public works/tax supported department managed to get the Times to accept her silence. Very convincing.

Best Actress goes to Anne Hathaway. I know she’s not up for an Oscar but, let’s face it, she’s hot and is rumored to have mad parking skills,

Best Supporting Actor goes to the second major Winter storm of this season. The first storm gave us weeks of suspended alternate side parking, but the second really carried the story to a blissful 6 weeks of virtually never having to move your car. Very poignant.

Best Directing goes to Mayor Bloomberg for directing the most orchestrated revenge drama against the car owners of this great city who a few years back, along with torrid media coverage, forced him to back down when he called them whiners. Since that fateful, day, he has attempted a disorganized (and failed) congestion pricing tax for drivers, forced through numerous bike lanes that reduce parking, congest traffic, and probably deal a decisive blow against our already traffic slowed bus system.

Best Film goes to those so believable Red Light snapshots that the city likes to boast are from state of the art cameras placed at the most dangerous intersections around the city. Those pictures are worth a thousand words and they can’t lie, right? Actually, they have been proven to lie in many cities across the country and have been outlawed in some states for that reason. The most effective technique is the shortening of Yellow lights. Unfortunately, a study of the duration of Yellow lights where these cameras are placed is not possible. When these “most dangerous” locations for these cameras was requested in a Freedom of Information request, the DOT refused citing the legal exception that they were part of an “ongoing investigation.”

Screenplay: Those bright orange winter storm assessments on your windscreen take this one, although the arch villain who closed bus stops but masterminded the writing of tickets for parking in those closed stops was some pretty good villainy and does get honorable mention.

Best Documentary goes to Inception for its fearless investigative journalism into the dream within a dream within a nightmare reality that perfectly captures the experience of parking in this city.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wear and Tear.

Parking in this city is tough enough. And you can add to it the uneasy feeling you get when you approach your car and recognize something is not right. I’m not talking about the towed car or forgetting where you parked the damn thing. It’s the flat tire, the broken mirror, the scratch, the scrape, the smashed window, or smashed headlight that hits you as you get closer. Congratulations, you’ve thrown craps; the ref made a lousy call; you’ve been “assessed for street repairs.” You didn’t deserve it. It was that roll of the dice again. But you will pay.
Vandalism, break ins, theft, they’re all done by garden variety criminals. But what about the broken mirror? Your so called friends tell you you should have folded it in like this wasn’t the first time you forgot to in years, but you know that you parked legally and someone drove by, hit it, caused you a couple of hundred dollars of damage and didn’t stop to report it. Didn’t leave a note. Ran for it. Would you?
It happened to me the first week they jump started Alt Side Rules back on and I’ll bet there were more than the usual number of incidences of that kind of panic and bad judgment in that week as rows upon rows of cars had to dig in, spin out, rock back and forth between two other struggling cars, or 4-wheel out of the way of non existent plows and sweepers. Only this guy backed into the side rear of my car scraping the paint down to the metal and tearing off a piece of the rear lens (never a cheap item anymore). He also tore off part of the rubber compound on the bumper. It was no tap. The alarm had to go off.
Now we all know the law. You damage a car in any way and you have to report it. You’re in a hurry, leave a note. Leaving the scene of an accident is serious. Insurance could be lost, licenses revoked. But many people who have no intention of breaking the law have decided that the everyday bump and grind of parking is a normal consequence of life in the big city. Bumpers get scraped. That plastic mermaid license plate holder that crushed when you backed into it or the trailer hitch that you didn’t see when you pulled into the space and cracked your headlight are all part of the normal “wear and tear” of this parking life. And I don’t even want to count the number of yellow dings my cars have accumulated over the years.
But this guy had to go pretty far off course to double-park back into my car that was protected behind and in front by much wider vans, had to be extra stupid. But not dumb enough to leave a note. And no witnesses came forward either. They were deaf and dumb.
A true believer of the latest CSI techniques, I walked down the block and inspected the sides of all the cars on the block and right away I noticed several cars that had other cars’ paint on them. Fact is the first 4 cars I looked at did. On the whole block an average of 4 out of 5 cars did. They’d all been hit. Hell with it. This was just typical wear and tear after all. It was just that roll of the dice.
Then I found it. I found the culprit (See photo). It has my shade of paint on it, at the right part of his car, and at the right height to have done the damage. Sure I’d have to hire a forensic chemist to prove it and that would cost more than repairs, but maybe it’s worth it to bust him. Or should I just ask him, confront him maybe, accuse him! Wreak midnight revenge? What would you do?

Monday, February 14, 2011

I'm just sayin...

Here is a fair sample of street conditions in the Upper West Side last week. No plowing; No sweeping; (They still haven't picked up the Christmas trees.); just a whopping 9,900 (plus) tickets written on Mon. At an average of $55.00 per ticket, that's about half a mil in one day.
I actually saw a plow driving past the streets pictured here. Plow raised up like a lady who didn't want to get her hem dirty. Come to think of it, ice that hard would probably damage them.

Now, is this record or near-record windfall of Alt Side tickets because us battle hardened, streetwise, street parking New Yorkers
1) couldn’t get the car out of the ice and snow
2) could see there would be no sweeping or plowing, and, believing that it was for these sanitation dept purposes that Alt Side was created, assumed it would be suspended
3) just decided to pay the fine to help out the city that has done so much for us.

It seems very possible it’s such a big windfall because people take the law at face value. That the city actually profits handsomely from the deception. (See previous post.)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Alternate Side Parking Rules Go Changing

If it’s not a record, it should be. For the past 6 or 7 weeks we haven’t had to move our cars for street sweeping. Sure you’ve had to put in some intense aerobic shoveling if you took your car anywhere and probably some intense aerobic shoveling when you came back. Or, if tunneling didn’t work, maybe you scaled the ice battlements and soared to new parking heights (Your wheels might not touch actual pavement until Spring.). But whether you cross train into a snow barricaded space or cross road your vehicle up to the top of an icy outpost, for the last 6 weeks, alternate side parking rules have been dead and it was good.
Which logically brings me to the subject of Int 0375-2010, the law the City council has been sitting on since last Fall that would allow cars to park in an alternate side restricted time and place if the driver remains in the vehicle or if the street sweeper has already passed. This goes to the heart of the whole purpose of Alternate Side restrictions. Is it really, as defined and intended, for street sweeping? A waiting driver can move for the sweeper or deserves a ticket. And a driver taking a space that has already been swept is no obstacle to cleaner streets or clearer storm drains. Or has Alt Side been government appropriated into a game of revenue tag where uniformed tax collectors that stalk our streets are always “it.”
Int 0375-2010 is an opportunity for our City Council to preserve the original intent of Alternate Side restrictions and to return the words that our government uses to their actual meaning. This is especially important now as soon this hardened snow will start to melt. Very soon after, a whim of our Mayor will determine that Alternate Side rules are back in effect. Even though the snow may not be soft enough for plowing, or the streets clear enough for sweeping, we better be out there digging, because this Mayoral directive will unleash a locust of ticket agents out to recoup whatever revenue our city government thinks it has lost. Int 0375-2010 will help preserve the meaning and purpose of the Alt Side laws which should simply mean that if the plows are not plowing or the sweepers not sweeping, then the posse of tax agents rounded up by the Mayor can not be out tagging and bagging.
To help make this happen, to learn more, or just to sign the petition in support of this new law, try