Monday, February 23, 2015

Parking hoggers in NYC and other cities

I don't have to tell you how difficult it is to park in NYC - - impossible is a mild word to describe how parking is in the 5 boroughs of NYC.  But many homeowners and businesses go to great lengths to "secure" parking by means of using traffic cones (many of these cones are stolen from entities such as Con Edison and NYC Department of Environmental Protection) or trash cans to hold their "personal" parking spaces in front of their properties.  Even houses of worship are in the act of holding their own parking spaces during services.  Here's how it works, a car is parked in front of the homeowners' property.  A person leaves the house, cone or trash can in hand, and uses it to place it on their parking space while they drive off in their car which was parked in front of said house.  The objects remain there until the driver comes back to park at the same spot. 

Now suppose if another driver sees the objects in front of the home, he/she has a right to remove them and park there (assuming that it's clear that there is no work in the area as Con Edison has emergency authority to take any parking space, in addition to the NYPD.)   The driver places the cone or trash can aside while another resident who lives in front of the offending parking space, see the driver putting the cone aside and park there - - three scenarios could happen.

  • The resident tells the person that he/she can't park there and an altercation occurs, where the driver might take out a weapon and use it against the resident - - in 2013 a Seattle (believe it or not) driver used his car as a weapon against two parking hoggers and was subsequently arrested for the assault.
  • The driver leaves the car, only to fine out when he comes back with a broken window or his tire slashed in retaliation for taking that parking space
However, Boston (for example) allows drivers to hold parking spaces (Bostonians call them "space savers") for up to 48 hours after a snowstorm - - but recently, Mayor Marty Walsh declared a moratorium of the post-48 hour enforcement rule.  One Boston neighborhood, the South End neighborhood group which just passed a resolution banning space savers two weeks ago, is now raising money to help pay for drivers who had their cars vandalized by the pesky space savers, with reports by drivers of tire slashings on their vehicles

It is selfish and (in most municipalities) illegal to hold parking spaces for personal use.  In New York City, it's illegal by way of two specific laws, the NYC Traffic Rules and the NYC Administrative Code

NYC Traffic Rules Section 4-08(n)(7)

(7) Unofficial reserving of parking space.
It shall be unlawful for any person to reserve or attempt to reserve a parking space, or prevent any vehicle from parking on a public street through his/her presence in the roadway, the use of hand-signals, or by placing any box, can, crate, handcart, dolly or any other device, including unauthorized pavement, curb or street markings or signs in the roadway.

NYC Administrative Code - Sanitation Provisions - Section 16-122(b):  

It shall be unlawful for any person, such person's agent or employee to leave, or to suffer or permit to be left, any box, barrel, bale of merchandise or other movable property whether or not owned by such person, upon any marginal or public street or any public place, or to erect or cause to be erected thereon any shed, building or other obstruction

Tell that to the thousands of homeowners and businesses who put objects such as traffic cones and trash cans out with impunity while the NYPD and Department of Sanitation ignore this decades old problem. Most business offenders are tire repair shops, catering halls and some well known establishments like Peter Luger steakhouse in Brooklyn, this video was taken at night.

So the parking spaces on Broadway, in front of Peter Luger, are 2 hour meters on Monday through Saturday with free parking after 7 PM and all day Sundays and major holidays.  But according to the owner(s) Peter Luger, you can park at their "reserved" spots only if you patronize their restaurant. 

Wikipedia has an article about Parking Chair which is common is Pittsburgh, PA - using chairs as a symbol to hog parking spaces.   A 2011 article in the NY Daily News highlighted parking hogging abuse in Maspeth, Queens.  Last year the NY Post had an article  about a Sunset Park man hogging his personal parking space to protect his prized Dodge Challenger.  Maybe the NY Post should visit Shonnard Place in Yonkers and see what is going on there with the homeowner protecting 2 cars.  (BTW, it's illegal in NY State to cover your car because you are concealing your license plates and registration/inspection stickers.)

You can also see Google Street view images of that same location.  Many of the locations I am describing can be found in Google Maps

The parking abuse is so rampant within the confines of the 47th Precinct in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, it's to a point where residents of an entire block are hogging parking spaces like drug dealers owning parking "turf.  Here is the dead end street on the 4400 block of Grace Ave with as many as 6 drivers holding parking spaces.


Here is the Google Maps street view on Grace Ave taken in April, 2012. That's how pervasive the problem is. The winter season is worse, after major snowstorms with more selfish residents hogging parking spaces.  Here is the 4100 block of Bruner Ave this past week.  Homeowners realize that if one person can get away with illegally placing cans on parking spaces, then others will follow suit. 

1160 East 223rd Street - - also see Google Maps Street View with the traffic cone from 2012

4459 Murdock Ave - again see Google Maps Street View picture from 2012.

I maintained constant communication with Bronx Community Board 12, whom they referred this illegal activity to NYC Sanitation.  It seems like NYC Sanitation doesn't care as the same offenders continue to do this..  The NYPD can only remove cans and cones but cannot issue a summons unless an officer observes the driver placing the cans or cones.  That said, I now have created a dedicated Facebook page called Parking Hoggers where you can upload pictures and tag locations where homeowners and businesses are hogging on-street parking spaces.  However keep in mind the rules of the page - - only relevant photos and discussion, it has to be illegal. Got a gripe about reporting the hogger to authorities or had a run-in with someone who is not a law enforcement officer or traffic agent who told you that you can't legally park there?  Feel free to post it too.  This is a community page, share whatever you want to do regarding parking and these "space savers".  If you have links to Google Maps on a specific address, that would be helpful too. 

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