Parking in My Neck of the Woods


Parking in My Neck of the Woods

Last year, my city stopped enforcing parking restrictions on street cleaning days. They extended this courtesy in response to the pandemic and all its accompanying stresses, restrictions and closures.

It’s time to move forward, so at the beginning of April, the city started to give out warnings to people who didn’t move their vehicles during designated street sweeping hours. At the end of April, police began handing out $43 tickets. I wonder how they come up with $43? I guess $40 is not punishment enough, and $45 is too steep.

Most weeks, the street in front of my house has been swept without issue, but then, in the wave of homebuying that interrupted the strange days of the pandemic, a new family bought and moved in to the house across the street. 

The amount that I will miss the family who sold that house is hard to quantify, but the fact that they knew me and my children when one of my daughters was still in diapers says a lot. It was a loss. 

The new family arrived with its own baby in diapers, and we introduced each other over a potted plant my husband and I delivered as a welcoming gift. Then it began. I don’t know why, but they, their guests, and their nanny couldn’t park anywhere on street-sweeping days except in front of my house. I finally had to speak with them. 

I wish they’d gotten a ticket and spared me that conversation. I’m not one to shirk a difficult task, but you never want to be on the outs with a neighbor – new or otherwise. You never know, we might all be here until we’re in diapers ourselves, and it would be best if we could be friends. I was diplomatic, and they’ve been more considerate.

So, life is picking up speed again. My children have started going to school twice a week; I’m doing a little more than just thinking about a vacation; and tickets for people who thwart the street-sweeper are happening. I’m grateful for all three.

Other residential parking news involves construction on my street. Two houses within spitting distance are going through major remodeling. I’m happy for these friends and neighbors. We all live in tiny 1950s tract homes and a major remodel is everyone’s dream. The two houses were gutted and are going back up, bit by bit. 

I think it should be a requirement that if you remodel your house, you have to live next door to it during the process. Then you can enjoy the sights and sounds of your build along with everyone else in the neighborhood. 

Giant disposal containers, cement trucks, 5-10 construction trucks, etc., crowd the street every day. We wake to the shouts and rumbling engines of 7 am deliveries. We work to the tunes of demolition and construction: jackhammers hammering, nail guns firing, forklifts beeping, and power saws buzzing. 

A few deliveries have literally shaken my house – 2,400 pounds of plywood dropped from a height of several feet will do that. My girls were under the table. They are good little Californians – always ready to duck and cover.

It will all be finished soon enough, and two lovely new homes will beautify my neighborhood, but I won’t miss the parking crunch or the noise.

For months, I’ve carried out my weekly errands and barely had to think about parking. I’ve been making fewer forays into public, of course; lots of other people have been staying home, too. Traffic and competition for parking have decreased proportionally.

Last weekend, I set off to run a few errands – and so did a lot of other people. I made it to one destination and considered my next. I felt stressed. I wasn’t worried about getting Covid. The stress I felt had another source. It was annoyance, and frustration, brought on by the crowded parking lot.

I’ve always organized my excursions and errands around several factors, and parking was one of the top three. I organize around my availability and energy level. I organize around avoiding crowds inside or outside my destination. And I organize around the priority of the task.

But I took parking off my list, because there’s been plenty of parking everywhere since last March. I’m back to factoring in parking again. I’m not going to say I’m happy about this development, but I am glad for life to return to a new version of the old normal. Parking struggles were bound to return one day – I’ll take them with the rest of the inconveniences and enjoyments of life beyond the pandemic.

Article contributed by:
Melissa Bean Sterzick
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