Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Streetsblog

How to Turn a Public Parking Space Into a Private Storage Locker, Legally

Given the extent to which we subsidize car parking in the United States -- giving away space for free on the vast majority of public streets -- it's surprising we don't see the system abused more often.

false

Rob Pitingolo at Extraordinary Observations offers this compelling question: What's to stop someone from using a street parking space as a private storage locker? It would be easier than it sounds, he says:

Occasionally I joke on Twitter about my plan to buy an old, beat-up Chevy Astro Van, park it on the street near my house, and use it exclusively as storage space. It sounds ridiculous, but it's actually an interesting thought experiment.

People typically react by saying that doing this would be an abuse of the public parking system. Street parking is supposed to be for parking cars, not storing stuff, they say. But in essence, street parking (public space) is used to store automobiles (privately owned things) for little to no cost (it would cost me $35 per year for a residential permit in my neighborhood). Using a van for storage would cost significantly less money than renting a space at one of those self storage warehouses, and it would be a lot more convenient.

Using an Astro Van as a storage locker would cause some pain for drivers in my neighborhood. Since I'd never move the van (except when legally necessary for street sweeping or an emergency no-parking permit holder) the space would never turn over. I'd single-handedly eliminate a valuable parking space from the neighborhood. And yet -- doing so is perfectly legal and within my rights, under the current law.

Imagine 300 square feet of storage space in Washington, DC, for just $35 dollars a year! Just another example of the innumerable favors and privileges bestowed on motorists in the United States.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Carfree USA says Portland businesses are flocking to streets with bike infrastructure. Bike Portland reports on the nascent bike lobby and how direct donations to political candidates may be necessary for political progress on cycling. And Reinventing Parking says excellent transit is not a prerequisite to parking reform.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Komanoff: A ‘Noise Tax’ Can Ground NYC Helicopters

A proposed $400 “noise tax” on “nonessential” flights is a start — and it will work.

April 18, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines: Welcome to the War on Cars, Scientific American

Our favorite story yesterday was this editorial in an unexpected place. Plus other news.

April 18, 2024

Meet the MTA Board Member and Congestion Pricing Foe Who Uses Bridges and Tunnels For Free Every Day

Mack drives over the transportation authority's bridges and tunnels thanks to a rare perk of which he is the primary beneficent.

April 18, 2024

Randy Mastro Aspires to Join Mayor’s Inner Circle of Congestion Pricing Foes

The mayor's reported pick to run the city Law Department is former deputy mayor under Rudy Giuliani and notorious foe of bike lanes and congestion pricing.

April 18, 2024

Donald Shoup: Here’s a Parking Policy That Works for the People

Free parking has a veneer of equality, but it is unfair. Here's a proposal from America's leading parking academic that could make it more equitable.

April 18, 2024
See all posts