When a Two-Car Garage Just Isn’t Enough

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There are 255,794 vehicles registered in Staten Island, and as the borough’s population has taken off in the last few years, some of the local parking customs have become increasingly strained. A story published Monday in the Staten Island Advance illuminates just how entitled the people of that borough still feel to free parking — not just on their own blocks, but directly in front of their homes. It tells the story of an anonymous Great Kills resident who, when a neighbor parked in front of his house, left the following note on the windshield:

"We have five vehicles in our family and would greatly appreciate being able to park in front of our own house," the letter writer stated. "We use both driveway spots as well as the entire front of the house so please be courteous and park in front of your own house. We are tired of getting tickets for double parking."

The argument didn’t wash with the person who got the note:

"To the owner of the house," the neighbor replied on the back of the note left on his windshield, "This is not a block that you can tell people not to park in front of your house. A lot of people have more than one car. But sometimes we need to park in those spaces. I know it’s hard but you do not own the street….. If you feel this way, maybe you should move upstate."

Learning to live with fewer than five cars in one family would apparently be too radical a suggestion.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    According to the article, this happened on Colon Avenue. The entire length of Colon Avenue is within walking distance of the SIRT, three express buses to Manhattan (more if you’re willing to walk over to Richmond Avenue) and two local buses.

    I think that this undermines the arguments of people like John Liu who favor more of a “carrot” approach to getting people out of their cars, in the form of investing in transit options. Look at all the carrots around Colon Avenue, and these people still want to drive everywhere. Time to break out the stick.

  • I used to get notes on my car in Astoria when I lived there (I’ve since sold my car and moved to Manhattan) and they would drive me crazy. People would put their garbage cans in front of their houses, park in front of their curb cut driveways instead of pulling in or pull two cars in the driveway and blocking the sidewalk.

    And anything over 3 stories was opposed because people feared the explosion in people looking for parking.

    What these areas really need is more shared automobiles. The only time I really used my car when I lived in Queens was for the weekly grocery run and weekend trips to visit friends and relatives. In a month I might really use it 5-6 times, sitting unused the rest of the time. Zipcar is a part answer for these issues…for the family with 5 cars, they need to start communicating better to each other and they could save a lot of money I bet.

  • Re: “moving upstate”

    I’m sure it’s just me, but I’ve only heard this as a retort for car nuisances. Once a very loud, very old (and surely very polluting) car was having trouble starting up and departing our central village street. After midnight, on a weeknight. One resident complained out his window, and was of course told that he “should move upstate.”

    Here’s an idea: take all your damn cars upstate. This is a city of people.

  • brent

    Yes Doc, but one of the great benefits of living in a dense urban place is that it can preserve undeveloped areas nearby. Just because Long Island, Jersey, and Staten Island are over- developed and ruined doesn’t mean upstate should be devastated on the same scale.

  • You’re right; I don’t want to see upstate be trashed / “economically developed.” I guess it’s just too tempting to tell people to get lost when you tire of telling them to lose their cars.

  • tps12

    It’s easy to be scornful, but then again, I’m not related to any cars…I don’t mind parking my Civic a couple blocks away, but would I feel the same way about a favorite aunt or younger cousin? If I try to put myself in the shoes of someone with five vehicles in their family, maybe I’ll find more sympathy for their situation.

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Tps12, this is a joke about vehicles “in” the family vs. “for” the family, right? Because I can’t muster much sympathy for people who choose to spend thousands of dollars on five vehicles in one of the most congested and transit-friendly areas in the country. Yes, even Staten Island is transit-friendly, relatively speaking.

    I grew up upstate, and no, please don’t tell more people to bring cars up there. The increase in car culture is one reason that my hometown no longer has a supermarket. When I was growing up, I knew several adults who lived just fine without a car, but a few years ago it became that much harder to sustain a car-free lifestyle up there.

  • AD

    But Glenn, how will the automakers be able to make a profit if they can’t sell one vehicle for every person?

  • people do that on my street in brooklyn too. and they did it in manhattan when i lived in the l.e.s. – people are stupid everywhere.

  • AD – Anyone who actually manufactures a product and hopes to make increasing profits off of the sales is going to go bankrupt…such a 20th Century business model.

    The high profit margins are in the financing, servicing products and reorganizing logistics to increase efficiency.

    If the auto industry wants fat margins, they need to outsource production and move into maximizing the efficiency of each automobile.

    And there are great market niches in the space between full automobile ownership and relying on taxis for your automobile needs.

    As much as we can make automobile usage “pay per trip” instead of large upfront investment and maximization of utility after that, the better.

  • AD

    Absolutely. Actually I was pretty much being facetious. Any business model predicated on selling something people don’t really need probably isn’t going to work in the long run.

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