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The Holidays, a “Mamil,” Landlords in East Orange

December 4, 2018

John Van Horn

It’s All Hallows Eve as I write and the mind immediately turns to the holidays. Thanksgiving and then Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan, Chinese New Year. Except for Ramadan, these holidays fall during the winter months.


They all involve celebrations and have roots in religion. I know little of the others, but Christmas is a time of wonder, magic, and worship. It’s a time of giving and celebration, of contemplation and legend. 


We here at PT celebrate Christmas and Chanukah and have parties where we all come together to share the joy of our respective traditions. It’s fun, reflective, and joyous. 


We wish this year, that for a moment, you could see the world through the eyes of a child, filled with curiosity at the lights, gifts, and stories that surround each of our holidays. No cynicism, no hatred, no disbelief. Just excitement, smiles, and imagination.


To those of you who read and follow what we do here, one simple phrase: All the Best.


Our cousins in the UK have similar problems with central cities dying and folks heading to shopping centers and Amazon online. The article was titled “Our schizophrenic attitude to driving and shopping” and Astrid has linked it on parknews.biz.


This chap, Paul Finch, has it nailed.


It is sometimes forgotten that the first out-of-town shopping centres, developed in Los Angeles, were a response to severe parking restrictions established by municipal authorities, heavily swayed by the railroad interest. Bans on street parking led first to the innovation of multi-storey car parks, then, inexorably, to the idea of building malls, where drivers were welcomed, rather than vilified.


The attitude that cars are enemies helps to explain why high streets and secondary or tertiary shopping areas in UK towns and cities are dying on their feet. Street parking is treated as a form of social leprosy, while the surface car parks supplied by supermarket chains are assumed to be a social good, even if they result in independent shopkeepers being driven out of business.


I couldn’t agree more. However, the best part of his article follows:


You might also add the scandalous waste of money, at least in parts of London, of providing free facilities for the white “mamil” population (Middle-Aged Men In Lycra) which creates congestion, pollution and frustration for drivers who are the ones paying for the unoccupied cycle lanes.


Too true. Trying to turn our huge cities into tiny Amsterdam, with its gazillion bicycles, just isn’t going to happen. You know about my neighborhood, which is in the process of destroying the mercantile activity on our nearby main drag for the couple of dozen a day “mamil” who show off their well-turned thighs while the rest of us duck and dive to try to find parking that was removed for their pleasure.


Kudus to Paul Finch and his moment of clarity. I salute his lack of “twitter” as he says:


(By the way, cyclist trolls, I am not on Twitter, so you can stick any poisonous responses to your Brooks saddle and sit on them.)


Some apartment dwellers in East Orange, NJ, have a parking problem, at least they do from their point of view. They are reaping the result of separating out the cost of parking from their rent and the difference can be as much as $170 a month. If you have two cars, the second might cost $130. “That’s $300 a month,” said one senior citizen.


The City moms and dads have a solution: Cap the amount the landlord can charge at $50. This is a typical response to a problem by government. It’s vaguely reminiscent to President Reagan’s comments on government’s view of the economy:


If it moves, tax it. 2) If it keeps moving, regulate it. 3) And if it stops moving, subsidize it.


East Orange is at step two.  When developers move out of East Orange, they will move to step three.


The city has created a perfect storm for landlords. They have stopped overnight on-street parking so tenants have no alternative except to park under their apartment and pay whatever the landlord asks.


In this environment, the landlords have told the city council that without the income from parking, banks will call their loans and they will be driven into bankruptcy. Not a wonderful situation and also one that is not outside the realm of possibility.


If the city wanted to help the tenants, what could it do?


1- Allow overnight parking with perhaps a permit so they would still be in step two above. Cities love control.


2- Create small parking lots around the city where folks could park, perhaps for a small fee to cover costs. $50 a month comes to mind.


3- Do nothing.


I prefer step three, but frankly, by removing on-street parking they have caused the problem. I understand that there is limited parking in East Orange, so perhaps step two would be a good idea. They might attract parking investors who would run small parking lots peppered around the city, convenient to apartment areas. Or the city could run them themselves.


If they did that, the landlords might find that the empty space under their apartment buildings was generating no money and they might lower fees to become more competitive. Maybe not to $50, but to one that tenants might find acceptable considering they could park downstairs out of rain and snow.


 I know that this idea isn’t pure capitalism, but it comes close. It allows the free market to work, sort of. Tenants can park and pay a less onerous rate. And the city council gets to keep their jobs. Everybody wins.



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