SCHENECTADY — While the decision to start enforcing long-ignored alternate-side parking rules on Union Street in the Stockade neighborhood was made by city police, Mayor Gary R. McCarthy said it’s part of a larger review of alternate-side parking streets in the city.
The citywide review was launched earlier due to snow removal concerns, McCarthy said on Tuesday. The early-December storm dropped 31 inches on the city and prompted major snow removal problems, and large mounds of streetside snow remain in parts of the city, and that in turn prompted the parking rule review.
“Some places it works, some it’s not alternate-side (that prompts problems) but it’s because there’s fire hydrants, or the need to plow, or to run the street sweeper through. So there’s not a simple solution to all these points of contentiousness,” McCarthy said.
The mayor made his remarks the day after multiple residents from the Stockade neighborhood spoke up during Monday’s City Council meeting to say they received no warning that ticketing was about to start, and questioned the wisdom of abruptly enforcing an alternate-side rule that hadn’t previously been enforced.
Based on what’s on the books, Union Street between Erie Boulevard and Washington Street has odd-even alternate parking between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. daily, and a two-hour parking limit between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Neither rule has been enforced, residents said.
Police Chief Eric Clifford said the rules are just being enforced, and said it was untrue that they haven’t been enforced before. He said the answer for residents should be to seek changes in parking rules, not complain about their enforcement. He acknowledged snow removal complaints have led to more ticket-writing.
“In 2020 the pandemic certainly saw a reduction in activity, for many reasons, but snow removal efforts and our internal discussions did result in officers being asked to enforce alternate street parking,” Clifford said by email. “While I will acknowledge that communication on the night in question could have been better, the enforcement of parking restrictions is the job of the police.”
While speaking to the City Council, Stockade Association President Suzanne Unger said that last Friday morning, residents with cars parked on the north side of Union Street woke up to find $35 “no standing” parking tickets on their car windshields. One resident estimated 40 to 50 tickets were issued overnight Thursday.
Then, residents said they woke up Tuesday morning — the morning after the council meeting — to find additional tickets had been issued. Chris White, a member of the association, said two neighbors told him they saw a police officer writing tickets at about 3 a.m.
Unger acknowledged that the city was attempting to find ways to simplify clearing streets after snowstorms, but said, “effectively removing half of the parking spaces on Union Street, year-round, creates many more problems than it solves.”
Among residents’ concerns, according to a letter presented to the council, is that enforcing the rule effectively eliminates half the parking on Union Street, which will force more residents to park on side streets that are already under parking pressure. The letter says residents believe the parking limitations should simply be eliminated.
The Stockade, the city’s oldest neighborhood, is notorious for its inadequate parking, given how close residences are to each other and narrow streets.
But city officials said there can be justifications for alternate-side parking, especially during snow emergencies.
During discussions in December, in the wake of widespread public criticism of how the Dec. 6 storm was handled, city Signals Superintendent John Coluccio explained that streets with parking on both sides generate the most complaints about poor snow removal. When parking is restricted to one side of the street, it makes it easier for plows to get through, he explained.