Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It Takes 34 Years to Implement Minor Parking Reform

One issue I think about a lot through my research is how to transition from poor policies to good policies. Such transitions take time and are not easy to implement. Parking reform is a major focus of mine, and I'm always looking for evidence of the temporal aspects of reform. Today I can add a new data point: it takes 34 years to implement a reduction in street cleaning from four days per week to two days per week.  34 years! From the story at DNAinfo:
SUNSET PARK — Drivers may finally have a reprieve next week when the city's Department of Sanitation reduces alternate-side parking from four days a week to two in parts of Sunset Park and Greenwood Heights.


The change marks the culmination of a 34-year campaign to limit alternate-side parking in the two Brooklyn neighborhoods. Brooklyn's Community Board 7 was the first to take advantage of a new law that sets the rules for reducing the frequency of street-sweeping and its attendant car shuffling. 


I'm no fan of free curb parking in New York, but I'm also not a fan of the alternate side parking policies.  The community was able to reduce cleaning frequency through a pilot program:

Any community that achieved at least a 90-percent cleanliness rating on its residential streets for two consecutive years could reduce alternate-side parking on those streets to just twice a week.
"If the streets are clean, if the community keeps them clean, and if they're residential, non-commercial streets, and if the community board votes to do it, then the alternate-side parking can be reduced," Lander said. "The law does require that the streets stay clean, and that's part of the community's commitment — it's to help keep streets clean, as sort of the trade-off for the added convenience for not having to move your car every day."
It is worth noting that the main benefit for residents is that they don't have to move their cars as often. The policy victory it is now a little bit easier to not use your car. During the week there is a disutility to owning a car in these neighborhoods, and this new policy reduces the disutility a little bit. It is absurd that long term parking is provided free by the city, but that is the way it is. Perhaps in another 34 years we can have another marginal improvement in parking policy.
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