Ithaca's odd-even parking ends for now, but street-cleaning restrictions begin Monday

April 3, 2015 by Mark H. Anbinder

The beginning of April brought the end of odd-even parking in the City of Ithaca -- at least for now. Wednesday morning from 2am-6am was the last time parking was prohibited on one side of each city street. Street cleaning begins on Monday, April 6th, though, bringing a round of temporary parking restrictions.

From November 1st through April 1st, under the current policy, parking is prohibited on City streets from 2am-6am on the odd-numbered side of the street on odd-numbered days, and the even-numbered side of the street on even-numbered days.

This Monday, April 5th, the City will begin its annual street-cleaning program, in which streets around the city will be posted "No Parking" to allow thorough cleaning of the streets all the way to the curb. Signs will be posted along each street 24 hours in advance, and all vehicles must be removed from parking spaces along that street by 7am on the date shown on the signs.

As they have in the past, Ithaca Carshare is offering special deals for car rentals that get their sharable cars off the streets being cleaned. Carshare members who take the cars from 7am-1pm on those specific days can pay just for mileage, and skip the hourly rate.

Mayor Svante Myrick, who rarely drives and doesn't own a car, has said he would just as soon do away with odd-even parking regulations in the City of Ithaca. The Board of Public Works has been working on a new plan that would replace the widely derided policy with year-round rotating parking restrictions, in a fifth of the City on one day each week. A new plan isn't ready, though.

Board of Public Works member Mark Darling told us in 2013 that the board "is considering changes" to "a program that generates a lot of strong emotions from City residents." One factor the subcommittee is looking at is the DPW's need to do street cleaning and maintenance to curbs, gutters, and drainage infrastructure, not just snow removal. "Odd-Even would make it possible to clean to the curb without the labor-intensive posting of temporary no-parking-zone signs," he says.

The rule applies even on streets with parking on only one side. Drivers must find another street on which to park overnight. Vehicles parked on the wrong side of the street between 2-6am from November through March are ticketed, and vehicles that have not been moved in 72 hours could be considered abandoned and towed at the owner's expense.

In theory, odd-even parking ensures the City can effectively remove snow during the winter, by making sure each side of the street is free of parked cars at least every couple of days. This winter, especially, made it a challenge to keep up.

Not paying your parking tickets? You might come back to your car to find this. 14850 Photo.Not paying your parking tickets? You might come back to your car to find this. 14850 Photo.In the meantime, the City rolled out a new "boot" program last fall to deal with people who park illegally multiple times who don't pay their tickets. Vehicle booting, in which a car can be immobilized until the offender pays outstanding fines and a boot removal fee, began at the end of October. City parking director Frank Nagy said at the time they hoped it would help Ithaca to collect much of the approximately 1.5 million dollars in unpaid parking tickets.

Drivers whose vehicles are booted must pay all outstanding tickets before the vehicle will be released, along with a $50 fee to have the boot removed. A booted vehicle that remains on the street for 72 hours is subject to towing at the owner's expense, and vehicles not picked up from towing companies within 24 hours are subject to daily storage fees.

In the meantime, Mayor Myrick says, the City of Ithaca, which has been criticized for disruptions to Downtown Ithaca businesses and eateries through an extended period of construction on the Commons and road work on surrounding blocks, worked with the Downtown Ithaca Alliance last fall to sponsor two hours of free parking. "Shoppers who present validated receipts from Commons businesses" may park for free in the Seneca Street and Green Street parking garages, both operated by the City of Ithaca.

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