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.

 

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