Monday, July 2, 2007
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
PARKiNG PROBLEMS N A
with the .an- for every new university
su " "g "n less parking lot
I wasonlvao AnnArbor driver
for less than a month when I got
my first parking ticket. For my
family, it was a source of pride
and a little payback - each of my
parents already had Ann Arbor
violations, and they don't even
live here. But, unlike my mom, I
didn't earn moy ticket parking in
an ambiguous "no parking" zone
next to Zingerman's: I parked in
my own driveway.
Student housing is rough
enough without the added stress
oftsharing a driveway with every-
one in your house and the house
next door. After moving an aver-
age of two cars a day just to get to
mycar, I'm more than qualified to
be a valet if this newspaper thing
doesn't work out. However, there
are few options when faced with
an unfamiliar car in your spot
and no available street parking.
On this particular day, I
decided that I could either call a
(surely over-worked) tow truck
or wait itout and find the dri vi. I
good neighbor approach, pulling
my car as far into the driveway
as I could. I still obscured most
of the sidewalk anyway.
Unfortunately, when my
space opened up, I discovered
that Ann Arbor had noticed my
car 15 minutes too soon. It's my
sidewalk when it's covered with
snow, but it's the city's sidewalk
when it's covered with my car.
I understand the city's desire
to keep the sidewalks clear and
safe, but as I lamented the demise
of my spotless record, I couldn't
help but notice the ample walking
space behind my bumper. Was it
really necessary to penalize a car
half-parked in : tovercrowded
student driveway on a seldom-
traveled street on a Tuesday
afternoon? I mean, I even drive a
Volvo sedan: it doesn't get much
more unassuming than that.
We can hardly expecta kinder,
gentler parking patrol, nor can
we blame the city for its safety
laws. Hence, the solution seems
simple, albeit clich: Practice
common courtesy. If you won't
block my parking spot, then I
won't tow your car. Now that's
Fitting in on campus
We had found the perfect
parking spot. Lit by the street-
light above, it glowed angelically
as a gaping space between two
cars on Ingalls Street. My room
overlooked it perfectly. "Ah!" any
friend and I shouted, gesturing
madly and giggling at our own
ecstatic discovery. To triumph
over the Ann Arbor parking
menace - how very sweet and
very near it appeared.
Unfortunately, we forgot one
key factor, one that crushes the
hopes of many who brave the
streets of Ann Arbor: We would
have to parallel park.
My friend inched her way into
the spot, jerking with stops and
starts like an old lady at an inter-
section. After a good 10 minutes,
she managed to get her back tire
resting thickly on the curb. To
help her reposition, I hopped
from end to end of her car, trying
to keep my directions to a whis-
per fit for 2 a.m.
It did no good. Half an hour
later, she only had her tire at a dif-
ferent angle on the curb. Further-
more, the car was now trapped in
the spot, unable to move without
denting the adjacent cars.
There was one thing left to do:
Escape by way of my front lawn.
My friend gunned the engine
to get over the curb. Bounding
onto the lawn, she just barely'
cleared the telephone pole and
the car in front of her; the pained
suspension squeaked so loud it
could have easily woken up the
entire street. The tires carved
deep trenches into the grass as
she swerved past the bushes
onto the driveway and bounced
back down into the street.
It was 3 a.m. and Ann Arbor
was once again a wasteland
of jammed bumper-to-bum-
per street parking, full parking
structures and early morning
muggings during20-block walks
home from the spot you finally
managed to find and maneuver.
We could have woken the
whole city with laughter always
resigned to the inevitable. Ann
Arbor had beatenus again.
Every Wednesday afternoon,
I drive up Division Street and
carefully steer down a winding
patch of dirt and gravel my best
friend calls her driveway before
walking the block to the Student
Publications Building for our edi-
torial board meeting.
One Wednesday, however, I
was having lunch with my friends
before the meeting. Since I was
running late, one of them suggest-
ed that I park at his house behind
South Quad. At the last minute,
he called to say that he couldn't
make itto lunchbut it was fine for
me to park in his driveway.
I parked and ran to lunch.
Because this was the first time
I had parked at his house, I sent
him a joking text message: "My
car is the silver Cobalt please
don't tow me :)." He responded
to tell me it wasn't a problem.
On my way out, I noticed a car or
two behind me, but I figured that
I'd only be a block away. If his
housemates needed to get out,
Arbor for more than a semester, I
don't need to explain the obvious
parking problems that plague the
city. At my off-campus residence,
there is a non-stop shuffle of
vehicles in an attempt to accom-
modate six housemates plus a
whole apartment full of people
upstairs who must all share the
same five parking spaces.
To be honest, at times I feel
guilty for even having to partici-
pate in the dance. I hail from a
town only 20 minutes from Ann
Arbor and as such, I feel much
less entitled to a spot than those
who need to commute across the
county or state lines to get home.
However, the reality is that here
in southeast Michigan, 20 min-
utes might as well be 20 hours for
they could call him and I would
move my car.
Apparently, one of the guys
didn't recognize my car and
within 15 minutes he called to
have my car towed so he could
get out. Nobody bothered to call
my friend, who not only gave me
permission to park in his drive-
way but also suggested it.
In the end, my friend didn't
even defend me. He let my car get
towed while I coughed up $240
to release my car.
Here in Ann Arbor, most of us
have suffered from absurd park-
ing violations. But the worst part
about it is that we don't look after
each other. Why wouldn't my
friend's roommate take that extra
minute to ask his roommates
whose car was blocking his?
If nothing else, now I know
that for the rest of my Wednes-
days, I'm just going to park in my
best friend's dirt patch to find
good parking with good people.
all intents and purposes.
Despite the proximity of my
destination, I have no real alter-
native method for getting home.
As many people have pointed
out time and again, the Metro-
Detroit area lacks any type of
practical mass transit system.
If Ann Arbor wants to improve
its parking, it needs to continue
to advocate public transporta-
tion and dedicate more resources
to encouraging Detroit and the
state as a whole to fix this short-
coming. I'm sure many people
are in the same boat as I am. We
would like to do our part to fix the
problem, and we will as soon as a
reasonable alternative exists.
Until then, I'll see you in the
KATE TR UESDELL
Discrimination on the streets
Student discrimination at the
hands of the city of Ann Arbor is
not obvious to the average Uni-
versity student. But that is exact-
ly what is happening with the
current disparity in residential
parking privileges. In this case,
the discrepancy between how
the city residents and University
students are treated prevents
many students from parking in
front of their own house.
Ann Arbor's 3rd Ward is a
perfect example of this problem.
Most residences along Church
Street and Forest Street south of
Hill Street are student houses.
As Forest intersects Cambridge
Street, though, the residences
tend to be single-family homes,
as evidenced by the well-mani-
cured lawns and luxury cars
parked in the area. Parking on
Cambridge for more than two
hours requires a residential
permit. Conversely, on adjacent
Forest, not even residents may
park for more than four hours in
a single location.
For students residing in these
neighborhoods, such inequalities
detract from the quality of life.
Some students double and even
triple-parked on narrow drive-
ways to evade parking tickets.
Others rent spaces in local lots at
premiums ranging from $500 to
$1000 a year, but for most, that
price is too steep. If students
could park their cars on their
street like their neighbors a block
away, it would be more conve-
nient and just more equitable.
Since most students rent their
houses, this situation could be
easily remedied by issuing resi-
dential parking permits to land-
lords. In turn, the landlords
would pass the permits on to
their renters. Equalizing parking
standards not only makes sense
for the sake of parity but is also
the best decision from a pub-
lic safety standpoint because it
restricts access to neighborhoods
by outsiders and transients