Last week’s column on Rockaway’s parking problem got reactions... some positive, mostly negative. Many people didn’t actually say anything but simply looked at me and shook their head like a parent would with their misbehaving child. Opinions were shared through long, thoughtful e-mails, and short curt ones. I also got an earful at bars, on street corners and from passing cars.
By and large, readers with private driveways, like my editor, want to leave well enough alone. If we don’t, they warned, our neighborhood will be inundated with hordes of weekend beachgoers. These out-of-towners will park in front of our houses, empty their coolers on our lawns, wash their feet with our hoses and rape our women. Worse, some of these interlopers may actually be Rockaway residents who can’t find parking on their own block.
Deep seated feelings often got in the way of brainstorming solutions. First was the denial that a parking problem even existed. Those with off-street parking spots required a bit of effort to put themselves in the shoes of people without them. Another impediment to finding solutions was the unspoken feeling that people without spots must be doing something wrong, like renting illegal basement apartments or living in apartment buildings that should provide their own off-street parking.
People were quick to point out that resident parking permits were no panacea. Enforcement would be difficult and like most government programs it would become expensive and eventually cause more problems than the one it was designed to solve. They had a point.
But all was not lost. Eventually a good idea did surface. It was on Memorial Day, when I ran into some old friends on their bikes in Riis Park. After chewing the fat for a while the subject got around to parking. On the condition of anonymity, they offered up a winning idea, a smart phone application where people with available spots could make them available to those who needed them. There could be short term arrangements for the night or weekend or longer terms like a week or month. The spots could be offered up for free, rented for a fixed price or auctioned off.
This is exactly what I was hoping for, an idea that uses technology, capitalism and cooperation to creatively address the problem. Maybe this suggestion will inspire someone to write the software or come up with their own creative solution that we can use to insure that all Rockaway residents can enjoy a stress-free summer.
Got an idea? Send it to: RickHoran@ IdeasImprov.com