Magazine

The Amateur Parker

A Clean Sweep!

Melissa Bean Sterzick

Last month, I received an important notice from my Homeowner’s Association. For those who quake and spit at the words “homeowner’s association,” take a deep breath and let me tell you about the one that functions in my neighborhood:

It charges me nothing, and it does nothing to me or for me but deliver a four-page newsletter 10 months of the year, which shares important news such as who moved or retired, who got married or had a baby, or who died or won the monthly landscaping award.

Happily, it’s nothing like the homeowner’s association in my parents’ neighborhood, which charges them $85 a month, manages the community pool, and won’t let them paint their house any color but beige. My association also shares items of interest, such as the news of a rash of pre-Christmas daytime burglaries, tips on how to keep handbills off your doorstep, and now, details about a major change in street-sweeping schedules and regulations.

The major change: My city will soon be implementing a new street-sweeping routine and will post signs in my neighborhood that disallow on-street parking on certain days of the week. With the new schedule, it will take two days a week to clean each street – one side will be cleaned on one day and the other will be cleaned on another day.

Residents can park on whichever side of the street they want whenever that side of the street is not being cleaned, but must not park there on street-sweeping days. Enforcement will not begin immediately, so people will have time to adjust to the new routine. But after a few weeks, parking violators will be rewarded with a ticket.

The reason for this change is that our city must comply with new state regulations meant to keep trash off our local beaches and out of local waters. The city also will be installing new catch basin screens on storm drains to prevent trash from being washed into the ocean.

I fully support keeping the ocean clean. I take my kids to the beach and see the kind of garbage people leave on our coastline. I want to tell the derelicts to pick up their trash, but my experience with thoughtless litterbugs is that they’re not only irresponsible, but also more prone to violence than neatniks like me, so I say nothing.

It’s not just the dirty birds on the beach polluting the water; it’s the miscellaneous trash and street residue that gets washed through the storm drains and into the Pacific every time it rains. I don’t know whose idea it was to direct wastewater into the ocean, but we can thank them for the “Danger” signs on our beaches whenever the skies open up.

What I don’t care for is that street parking is going to be a new stressor to add to my already long list. I occasionally park on the street, and whenever I have guests in my home, they park on the street. I remember street-sweeping day without fail, because I don’t want to clean up the mud and leaves constantly collecting along the curb in front of my house. But with two days now subject to regulation, I’m not sure I’ll be so reliable. I don’t want to be ticketed for parking on my own street – that’s why I bought a house.

The thing I shout, I mean, suggest, to my kids all the time is that if you don’t have a solution, then you don’t have a problem. I have a solution. My city libraries have adopted a marvelous policy of using email to tell me when my books are due. I don’t know why they would do this, because I’ve gone from forking out $200 a year in overdue fines to at least half that, but it’s an ingenious system.

Their magical computer keeps track of my check-outs, and I get a sweet little email reminder two days before my books are due. This email alert is an optional service, but I don’t know who wouldn’t want to save $100 in fines every year. Nobody – especially my family – turns in their library books on time, so we signed up immediately.

My city water services department could take an email address for every homeowner or renter who gets a bill and correlate those emails with street addresses and the street-sweeping schedule, so they can send out a little reminder on street-sweeping days. Computer programmers can set up a program like this in a few hours, and then, presto, nobody needs to be out giving tickets to frazzled homeowners every day of the week for 100 years. It might not be a perfect system, but I bet an email will work just as well as the threat of a ticket. If the library can embrace this wonderful tool of modernity, so can the street-sweepers.

I admit it is the flightiness of the general public that has brought us to this point. Some people just don’t move their cars on street-sweeping day. Either they forget or don’t know or just don’t care.

They might be renters who never heard about the street-sweeping schedule; they might be visitors from out of town; they might be the Avon lady who just keeps coming back, even though you never buy anything; or they might be the random friend of the lady next door who happens to park in front of your house during the six minutes when the sweeper goes down your street, and now your gutters will be murky for an entire week. It happens.



Melissa Bean Sterzick is Parking Today’s proofreader, occasional writer and amateur parker. She can be reached at Melissa@parkingtoday.com.

Article Abstract from February, 2014




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