The 3 Worst Tickets I have ever received and one that almost got me killed (a really long story in many parts).
When it comes to parking tickets, it is so hard to choose the worst. They are all so worthy, but since I have noticed several people showing up on my site lately with search terms like “rights when car towed for movie” and since I know that pain I’ll begin there just in case something I say will be of any use. We all know we are responsible for our car wherever it is on the street, but besides the occasional taxicab-yellow dents in the doors and the odd broken window with glove compartment contents strewn all over the floor, we do expect things to be pretty much as we left them. We certainly don’t expect to be ambushed overnight by our own city, and be hit yet again with another car tax this time in the name of that all American industry that we all so love, the movies. I don’t know what neighborhood you live in but on the Upper West Side, it happens every month, sometimes several times a month.
Yes, for the price of a permit that has been free since 1966, the city can tow you for any movie or television production location, but the good news is they do not charge you for the tow, they just move you to the “next available parking space.” Yeah right. I can’t find the exact rules for exercising your film parking permits on the MOFTB site, but a friend of mine has been in that business for a few years and this is what he says.
Film companies are not actually required to post signs on the block to alert you of their parking space permits, but the city requests that they give at least 24 hours notice before they start enforcing their reserved parking. When I told him that didn’t sound right, he told me of a time when a film he was organizing parking for had him reserve a bridge up on 158th street when they had given no notice at all. A whole lot of angry motorists woke up one morning and found their cars missing. There was mob anger and many threats but the log of where the cars had been towed was brought out and calmed things a little. One by one most went off to retrieve their cars, but the angry mob drove back to the location, complained of damage to their cars and demanded permit and company identification as they vowed to sue. Being sued was the least of my friend’s worries in the face of so many red faced New Yorkers wielding guns and machetes (practically).
In my experience film productions do give at least 24 hour notice and usually more which is fairly considerate until you are looking for a parking space and you have 3 different productions in your neighborhood at one time and one of them has reserved ten or twenty blocks or hundreds of parking spaces just for itself and most of which Brad and Angelina never even used. Then you are drowning in a sea of orange cones that look like life preservers that no one will throw to you. And before you go off on the parking guys who often eat, drink and sleep in their control car, remember they already suffer that dunce cone on their roof, and are harassed by everybody, the film crew, angry drivers and pedestrians, even the 5 a.m. drunks, and often get tickets for their control cars, usually having to pay unless they can prove their permit was properly displayed.
So we are responsible for our cars, but we don’t (can’t) always check up on them. Sometimes we are lucky enough to pass by our cars, like I was when I was walking my dog one night some years back, and see that the car is doing fine and all is well with the world. I so enjoyed that feeling of world peace that the following night I walked my dog past the same spot but this time found the whole block lit up and my car was long gone! In its place were a lot of limos and police and wherever there are limos and police there are also crowds. I worked my way through the crowd and asked after my car and I was told that it had been towed for the Seinfeld closing party. That’s right, our beloved Jerry had my car towed so that his and Kramer’s limos could park equally close to their cast party.
I protested and the NYPD officer on duty (a free NYC service offered to location sets) pointed to a paper notice taped to a tree. I told him, and the whole crowd around us, that I had walked by there last night and there was no sign. Judging by the sharpness with which the officer implied I was a liar either he was the one responsible for putting up those notices and he knew he was late or he was just sick of hearing about it. I was sent to “Jill” who was tracking what “nearest available parking space” each car was towed to, but she was having trouble reading the log and griped about inconsistencies in the tow truck drivers’ reports while she gave me several possible addresses.
Turns out my “next available space” was a bus stop and it had a ticket. So, with little or no notice, the city allowed the Seinfeld Show to tow my car to a bus stop where it could hinder or even endanger public transportation and where I had to pay a $75 fine, all for a f*#*ing party! My friend tells me that local traffic enforcement is supposed to be notified of the towing and not to write tickets on towed cars for 12 hours, but that sometimes not everybody gets the message. And he actually believes that! Then he claimed that the film production company should take responsibility for that ticket, but when I went back to complain about the ticket, Jill (you know, with the log that didn’t even have my car correctly identified and was so full of inconsistencies that it wouldn’t stand a chance of holding up in court) had apparently been misplaced or misfiled and none of the tow truck drivers could remember where they put her.