Don’t Blame Only Alec Baldwin for Parking Fight — Blame Free Parking!

Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump on "SNL." Photo: NBC
Alec Baldwin playing Donald Trump on "SNL." Photo: NBC

No New Yorker should be surprised that Alec Baldwin was arrested in an apparent fight over a parking space on E. 10th St. — but not because the actor is a hothead, but because the city does such a bad job of pricing the curb that there’s simply never a spot when a frantic actor (or anyone else) needs one.

The location where Baldwin allegedly punched another driver for taking “his” space offers on-street car storage for the exorbitant price of absolutely nothing, meaning that residents almost never turn over the spaces to give visitors or shoppers access to the curb.

DOT raised the price of meters in the area from $3.50 for the first hour to $4 for the first hour and $6.75 for additional hours. But it’s completely free to store a car on the side street of E. 10th St. between Fifth Avenue and University Place all week (minus a half-hour twice a week for street cleaning).

A fight like Baldwin’s shines a light on what’s wrong with street management in our city, said transit expert Charles Komanoff.

“There’s chronic over-demand for parking because the city isn’t pricing it properly,” the number-crunching guru told Streetsblog. “If we had properly priced curbside parking, by definition, we would always have 10 to 15 percent of the spaces available.”

Komanoff said we won’t know how high the curb should be priced till we try it, but cited research by parking fee expert Donald Shoup that there’s always a way for the city to figure out a price that’s just high enough to create turnover.

“There needs to be a space for the person who really needs one — like someone taking an aunt to a medical clinic for dialysis,” he said. “But if it’s free, that space won’t be available. Instead, in many residential neighborhoods, we see that a big portion of the traffic is just drivers cruising for free parking.”

Komanoff said on E. 10th Street, parking would likely cost around $5 for the first half-hour — well within the budget of Manhattan car owners like Alec Baldwin.


  • JarekFA

    “But if it’s free, that space won’t be available. Instead, in many residential neighborhoods, we see that a big portion of the traffic is just drivers cruising for free parking.”

    Oh for sure. What I can’t stand are the people endlessly circling the block looking for parking. They pay little attention to the road and are focused on finding any gaps on the side. But, it’s our fucked up public policy which creates this dilemma. Immiserating all these people who are wielding life threatening weapons. You might as well have a policy of handing people a free gun and a shot when they enter a bar.

  • Daphna

    I’m ready. Let’s get started with $5 per half hour priced curbside parking. Let’s meter many streets that are not metered. Let’s eliminate parking placards (real and fake), and eliminate the unspoken courtesy of letting all government and government-connected employees park for free – instead everybody pays. Ah to dream!

  • Larry Littlefield

    Uber and Lyft may not reduce traffic — but they do reduce the need for parking.

  • motorock

    Yes let’s make parking paid and give it for free only to congestion and pollution reducing vehicles like motorcycles and scooters as done in smarter progressive cities like London, Paris, Barcelona etc…

  • Vooch

    never forget that until 1955 ( or so ) it was illegal to store one‘s car overnight curbside in Manhattan

  • So instead they spend half their time deadheading, wasting fuel, polluting the air, and warming the climate, and also being much more hazardous to life and limb. All while taking up the same amount of public space (actually more, unless traffic is at a standstill).

  • Stephen Simac

    I like the word immiserating. Did you coin it? I read it as the opposite of commiseration, with a twist that you don’t share their angst. Could be an English version of shadenfreude?

  • What a douche

  • AMH

    By idling in the bike lane instead.

  • AMH
  • Stephen Simac

    Thanks, sorry I was too lazy to look that up myself. I do enjoy learning new words by reading, which is why I often can’t pronounce them “properly”.

  • I guess SNL does not pay that well… he cannot afford a parking lot …


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