A Reminder That if Someone Says You Can't Park Somewhere They Might Be Lying

There it is. The perfect parking spot, right up until you notice a completely sketchy ‘no-parking’ sign, or a suited-up bellboy telling you that, for sure, you can’t park here, it’s definitely illegal. Friend, I’m here to tell you they might be lying.

The latest example of this comes in the pages of The (New York) Daily News, which, a couple days ago, unleashed three of its reporters on billionaire Noam Gottesman, who the News said had, “gave himself the ultimate upgrade during the renovation process: his own private parking spot on one of the city’s most coveted streets.”

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What they were referring was lettering on the side of Gottesman’s West Village building that says, “NO PARKING ACTIVE DRIVEWAY,” in a place where no driveway exists, according to the News. The News also got the city’s Department of Buildings to say that the curb cut was illegal, and then, of course, tried to park in the space itself, with the predictable results.

Any attempt to park there immediately brings out hired hands from the building to warn people off.

When a News reporter pulled into the empty space Monday morning, a man emerged within seconds.

“You will be towed,” he said, pointing to the yellow words on the black door behind him, which was open enough to reveal a set of stairs leading up to a balcony landing.

Asked if the residence was a garage, he replied, “Yes, it is .... We tow people immediately. I’m sorry. Immediately.”

That threat is apparently not empty, as the News talked to one poor sap who parked in the spot as a form of resistance, only later to find his car towed to Queens. That car was towed after a cop was flagged down to ticket the vehicle—a ticket which was later dismissed.

The story was published Tuesday on the News’s front page and was met with the predictable outrage, and that same day a Department of Buildings inspector was dispatched to Gottesman’s home to assess the curb cut, with the News publishing a follow-up story.

Spurred by the driveway donnybrook first reported by the Daily News, a DOB inspector showed up at Gottesman’s property Tuesday with a tape measure in hand to assess the curb cut in front of the palatial three-story home. City officials told The News the building’s owner would be slapped with a violation for the controversial cut, which DOB insists was installed without proper permits.

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The News even coaxed this quote from a spokeswoman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“This is a shameful abuse of public space that we won’t tolerate. The building owner needs to play by the same rules as everyone else, no matter how deep his pockets are, which is why we’ve instructed the Buildings Department to investigate further and take whatever enforcement actions are needed,” Mayor de Blasio spokeswoman Marcy Miranda said.

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Now, ordinarily I would be totally up for getting really worked up about this, if setting up fake no parking zones on city streets hadn’t been the norm in this city for years. Take this New York Times story from 2010, when a reporter gamely investigated so-called no parking zones in front of various residences in the Upper East Side.

Yet, in front of some of the city’s priciest apartment buildings, often on the Upper East Side, there seems to be an abundance of spaces that drivers are not taking.

These are, almost invariably, directly in front of building entrances, and are notated by a sign mounted on a brass stand that politely asks drivers not to park in front of their buildings. This makes it easier for residents and guests to come and go from cabs, cars and Escalades, but officially, it is legal for anyone to park there.

For the record, Monty Dean, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Transportation, said it was illegal for “any person to reserve or attempt to reserve a parking space, or prevent any vehicle from parking on a public street.” The law prevents New Yorkers from standing in the street, using “hand signals” or putting “any box, can, crate, handcart, dolly or any other device, including unauthorized pavement, curb or street markings or signs,” to keep drivers away, he said, though a sign on the sidewalk did not violate this law (but it could run afoul of sanitation laws).

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When the reporter took her 2006 Chevy Malibu to try and park in some of these spaces, herself, doormen emerged to try and block her. Some were nice, others were less so.

The award for the best-guarded legal parking space goes to 55 East End Avenue. When the Appraisal began pulling in, a broad-shouldered doorman came out to stop the car. When the Appraisal politely asked about parking, he said that elderly people lived there and that parking was not allowed.

But when the Appraisal made it clear the intent was to park in the space, the doorman lifted his metal “no parking” sign into the street to stop the car from parking. When the Appraisal explained that this was for an article, asked for his name and began snapping pictures of him, he responded hostilely with an expletive and added:

“That’s what it is.”

The Appraisal drove off.

A parking space could be perfectly legal, but if you have a screaming doorman in your face you may ultimately decide it isn’t worth the hassle. And that screaming doorman is just doing their job, of course, and probably answers to a boss who is even more unhinged.

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And if you can afford to live on the Upper East Side and also street park your car, well, let’s just say you’re not the most sympathetic figure in the world, since you can probably also afford to pay for a spot in a garage. (If you’re a working-class old-timer, you have both my sympathies and my jealousies of your rent-controlled apartment, of course.)

But! But. All that said, when buildings (or billionaires) do stuff like this, they’re being dicks, and rightly should be shamed. The real hack, of course, is to not live in New York City at all. Everyone in this goddamn city is off their rocker.

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About the author

Erik Shilling

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.