Free Parking Isn’t Free — But Upper West Side Car Owners Want To Keep It That Way

About 100 people packed a panel discussion Tuesday night on “Curbside Space: Optimizing Acres of Public Real Estate,” held by the Transportation Committee of Community Board 7 — many of them car owners. Only about a quarter of Upper West Side households own a vehicle, and even fewer — about 6 percent— use a car to drive themselves to work, but that entitled minority wanted to hear validation of their choice to hog space in the public right of way for car storage.

Rachel Weinberger, the senior fellow for transportation policy at the Regional Plan Association, said that, in order for a resident-parking permit scheme to work properly, it would have to charge residents as much as local garage do — and residents probably wouldn’t want to pay that much. (A quick look online shows that neighborhood garage prices start at about $250 monthly and can easily run more than $500.) Anything less would yield only an ineffective “hunting license” which wouldn’t guarantee anyone a parking space, she said.

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