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. But a City subcommittee is actually considering expanding the restriction to cover more of the year, and more hours each night. From November 1st through April 1st, under the 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.
Board of Public Works member Mark Darling says 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.
One idea raised at a Board of Public Works meeting on Monday night would see the odd-even restrictions cover the period from Labor Day to Memorial Day, and expand the effective hours to cover 7pm to 7am. "Having parking restricted on one side overnight is bad enough, but 12 hours a day would be a huge burden," says homeowner David Kornreich, a faculty member at Ithaca College who attended the BPW meeting. "I usually take the bus to work, but that would be impossible under the proposal, since I wouldn't be able to stay late if I needed to. I would have to get back on the bus to go home and move my car, every day."
Kornreich says there's also an environmental impact to odd-even parking. "It also requires me to start and move the car every day, even when I don't use it, which is bad for the car, and bad for the environment, since starting is the most polluting moment for an engine," he warns. "We have the entire fleet of on-street parked cars starting up once a day, polluting the air, whether they are used or not. Do we as an environmentally-consious community really want to be discouraging the use of public transit and encouraging unnecessary pollution?"
If no one but you is parked here, there's probably a reason. 14850 file photo.Even area residents and visitors who know of the current rule are often bitten by its confusing wording. If you're parking at 9pm on November 1st, park on the side of the street with odd house numbers, as in the wee hours of November 2nd, an even-numbered day, parking on the even side of the street is prohibited.
Because November 1st is an odd-numbered day, parking will be prohibited on the odd side of the street from 2-6am overnight tomorrow night, or early Friday morning. Drivers parking overnight after their Halloween festivities should park on the even side of the street.
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 will be ticketed, and vehicles that have not been moved in 72 hours could be considered abandoned and towed at the owner's expense.
Ithaca resident Cameron Finucane took it upon himself to produce a web site that makes the decision clear. Visit whichsidetopark.info at any time for advice on where to park. Whether it's before or after midnight, the site will correctly tell you which side of the street you can park on for that night.
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. Darling says infrastructure maintenance is also vital. "Public works infrastructure is invisible. Usually we only notice it when servicing and repairing it causes us individual inconvenience, or it fails," he says. "Moving cars from one side of the street to the other makes it possible for this work to be done in less time and with less cost to the City," Darling adds, "money coming from taxpayers, mostly. The reductions in work force to meet the budget, and keep taxes low, means fewer crews are scrambling to keep up with what is broken, to say nothing of preventive maintenance."
Darling adds that modern communication tools mean "it may not be necessary to have odd-even in place based on calendar dates." The subcommittee has also been considering a notification system to which residents could subscribe "that will notify them of street closings, snow plowing, and other emergencies via text and e-mail."
Mayor Myrick did not respond to a request for comment.