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

Entitled Car Owners Win Battle in Upper West Side War on Ultimate Perk: Free Parking

CB7 Transportation Committee Chairman Howard Yaruss makes a point at the board’s December 2019 meeting. Photo: Screenshot

It's our December donation drive. Please give from the heart (and wallet) by clicking the logo above.
It's our December donation drive. Please give from the heart (and wallet) by clicking the logo above.

An Upper West Side community board rejected a watered-down version of a revolutionary attempt to end the greatest of all car culture entitlements — free parking on virtually every street in the neighborhood — sending back the neutered request for a study of the problem to committee to be watered down even further.

The full Community Board 7 voted to not vote on a Transportation Committee resolution that only asked the city  to "analyze and assess" whether paid curbside space instead of free parking could benefit the neighborhood — a resolution that was itself a toned-down version of a proposal the transportation panel had passed in May. That resolution had said that free curbside space “exacerbates economic inequality by directing limited city resources to private car owners,” and sought to reuse that “precious commodity” to "create the greatest good for the greatest number of people."

The earlier resolution, citing the introduction of congestion pricing below 61st Street in 2021 asked the city to "consider more productive and equitable uses of curbside space, including, but not limited to: paid residential parking permits, meters capable of surge pricing and the best practices of other major cities.”

By last month, however, the resolution had been altered to simply asking the city to study the issue. But even that could not pass the full board on Tuesday night. The mere mention of a study that might lead to the end of "free parking" proved too much for some members of the board, who held onto the belief that car owners should get to store their vehicles in the public right of way for free, a form of psychosis.

One board member, Jay Adolf, declared himself "offended" at the idea that free parking "exacerbates economic inequality," and in fact said the city should create more free parking on the Upper West Side. He was roundly cheered by the car owners in the audiences.

"People who cannot afford the outrageous fees [of garages] must park in the streets," Adolf said. "They're the ones" who would "be hurt" by the resolution.

Board member Ken Coughlin summed up the hysteria as simply a matter of people not willing to give up a privilege that they think they have always had — even though free overnight parking was not legal until the 1950s.

"Virtually no one in that room could remember a New York City without streets wall-papered with free car storage," he said. "It’s become the water we swim in. Calling that into question is a surprisingly difficult cognitive shift, even for an otherwise progressive community board."

The chairman of the transportation panel, Howard Yaruss, said the panel would rework the resolution and return to the board with a new draft next month.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

Wednesday’s Headlines: Citi Bike By the Numbers Edition

Haters of Citi Bike are really going to detest the new website. Plus other news.

July 17, 2024

Bedford Ave. Protected Bike Lane Would Benefit Residents, Businesses: Data

A new report debunks the common myth that street safety projects aren't built for the benefit of people who live in a given neighborhood.

July 16, 2024

Tuesday’s Headlines: Rajkumar’s Citywide Bid Edition

The potential candidate for city comptroller cares more about "quality of life" than transportation, she says. Plus more news.

July 16, 2024

Report: The 3 Deadliest Districts for Pedestrians are Represented by Republicans

According to Smart Growth America, Suffolk County and the southwestern part of Nassau County are the worst places to be a pedestrian in the state.

July 16, 2024

Monday’s Headlines: Who’s a Good Boy Edition

Too many of our four-legged family members are being killed by car drivers. Plus other news.

July 15, 2024
See all posts