Now I get it. Martin Bramwell over at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen explains the issue. To wit: You have to move your car twice a week in NYC to allow street cleaning. So people just get in their car, drive out. Wait for the sweeper to go by, and then return to their spot and idle until the time is up (hour and a half at most). These spaces are free. But extremely valuable. To pay for a post in Manhattan, you would drop $400. And that might be blocks away from your apartment. Martin says that most of these cars are moved just twice a week, and sit the rest of the time.
The city council has put forth a proposal (I discussed this a few weeks ago) that after the sweeper passes, you can park and leave your car, you don’t have to wait until the time on the sign ticks by. This would save many New Yorkers hours a year sitting idling in their cars waiting for time to pass.
The mayor opposes the deal for the reason that sweepers sometimes have to go by twice. The real reason to oppose the deal is that the entire concept is incredible. The city is providing “free” parking in a city where parking costs $400 a month if you can get it. New York is also a city where parking is very scarce. The people who park cars “free” on the street seldom use the cars, they simply park them because they can. One might guess that if they had to pay an extra $5K a year to park, they might add that to the cost of ownership and realize that they could rent a luxury car for the little times they use a car and free up a lot of on street space. If the city charged $2 an hour, it would be much higher than $400 a month for those now parking “free.”
Of course, it’s a political issue, all those “free” parkers vote.