Wednesday’s Headlines: Alternate Side of Reality Edition

This guy HATES moving his car.
This guy HATES moving his car.

After weeks of Black Lives Matter protests, Mayor de Blasio yesterday struck a blow for what he (seriously!) described as a matter of “fairness and justice.” 

Confronted with historic demands to dismantle institutional racism, end to police brutality, and defund the NYPD (whose officers have beaten protesters, rammed them with SUVs, and spied on them from helicopters for 186 hours), the mayor … alleviated a burden of a privileged minority, car owners, by making alternate-side parking (when it is in effect!) only once a week.  

You. Can’t. Make. This. Shit. Up.

Here’s the mayor in full blather, announcing the move at his daily press briefing:

Now, we also are in the process of recovery, and I’ve said many times the recovery is not just go back to the city that existed in January or February and call a day. No, the recovery means we’re going to do things differently. We have to change the status quo on the biggest issues of fairness and justice, and right down to the everyday issues, the kitchen table issues, the issues that affect you and your neighborhood on your block. And this brings me to an issue that so many New Yorkers care about, and it is a very important every-day issue – once again, alternate side parking. So, here’s the reality, alternate side parking has been done the same way for a long, long time, and, like so many New Yorkers, I’ve experienced it over and over again, trying to find that place to move the car to sometimes forgetting, getting that ticket. It is frustrating, it is difficult, it doesn’t have to be this way. So, we’re rethinking alternate side parking and I want to thank everyone who’s been a part of the effort. We’ve made the decision throughout this crisis to very rarely have alternate side parking on. So, a special thank you to a Deputy Mayor Laura Anglin; to, in her other hat, Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, their teams; Department of Transportation, Polly Trottenberg. Everyone’s been working together to figure out how we could give some relief to folks, and we’ve done that by having very few times and alternate side parking was in effect, but as I said, we have to rethink the whole model. And one of the things that has frustrated me for years as a New Yorker and as a public servant is the streets where people had to move their car, not once a week, but twice a week, two different days, a super hassle, and one to me that bluntly didn’t seem necessary and it wasn’t fair to people. This needs to change. So, we’re about to make the biggest change in alternate side parking in the last two decades. We are now going to have a new rule where New Yorkers will only have to move their car once a week when alternate side parking is in effect. Now, sometimes, as we’ve seen, it won’t be an effect, but when alternate side parking is, in fact, no New Yorkers should have to move their car more than once a week. So, where do we stand right now, right now, suspended with alternate side through Sunday, this Sunday, June 28, we’re going to bring it back for one week, starting on Monday, June 29. We’ve got some cleaning up to do, we want to reset the equation, we want to make sure that the streets are clean. Some restaurants are going to be able to pick up some of that space for outdoor dining, and we’re going to take stock of where we stand. But when it comes back next week, if you live on one of those blocks, that right now you’ll have to move the car twice a week, you will not have to do that. You should only do it once a week and it will be on the latest day posted on your street sign. So, if you unfortunately have to currently do it twice a week now, starting next week, only the later day in the week will you have to move your car. And, again, we’re going to do that for one week, see how it goes. And we’re going to watch this in the course of the summer, as we get on towards Labor Day and see if this is something we can make a long-term new rule. I like it, I hope this will prove to be as common sense as I think it is. That’d be something we can institute long-term, and again, we’ll only turn on alternate side parking when we need it during this crisis, but I want to make it easier on people when it is in effect.

 Streetsblog, naturally, emphasized the absurdity of the mayor’s call and pointed out that it runs counter to the growing citizen movement to reclaim the curb for more public-spirited uses than private car storage. But others were more willing to take the mayor’s proposal at face value. AMNY gave the mayor props for his “rethinking” of the long usage, while the New York Post lauded him for trying to change the  city’s “dreadful parking situation.”

Gothamist, however, sounded a quizzical note about the mayor’s priorities. “There are so many questions hovering over NYC this summer: will there be a spike in new cases of COVID-19 as things reopen? How will restaurants survive with limited service? Will people start using the subway again? How will we be able to tell legal fireworks from illegal fireworks?,” the website’s Ben Yakas wrote, but there was the mayor “ready to disrupt the system and radically alter the way transportation works in this city.” In favor of car owners, as we’ll say again. Transportation Alternatives tweeted trenchantly about the mayor’s priorities:

In other news yesterday:

  • ProPublica had a harrowing story by its deputy managing editor, Eric Umansky, who investigated after his wife saw an unmarked police car hit a Black youth last Halloween in Brooklyn. Despite his best efforts, Umansky was never able to get any real information about the crash out of the cops, who said that the youth had run across the hood of a stationary police car.”[T]he episode crystallized all of the ways in which the NYPD is shielded from accountability,” he wrote.
  • The City had an MTA scoop: The  pandemic-battered agency will freeze billions of dollars of capital proects now on 60-day hold indefinitely.
  • Double-duty Guse of the Newsuh had two MTA stories: Because thousands of unlimited Metrocards have gone unused during the coronavirus pandemic, the “MTA is raking in much more than $2.75 per subway swipe.” In fact, the average per-turnstile swipe yielded $3.66 in April even though the agency has lost billions because of the precipitous drop in ridership. Guse also reported that MTA workers are making their own rugged, wooden hand-sanitizer dispensers for the subways.
  • And a number of outlets covered the roll-out of curbside dining (for example, NYT and NYDN) but none with such panoramic attention to partitions as Streetsblog.
  • And, finally, our medical team says this went well yesterday.