Saturday, January 2, 2021

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

At the last meeting of the Common Council Public Works and Parks Committee, Alderman Jane Trombley (First Ward) expressed the opinion, "Alternate side of the street parking is a real pain." That inspired Alderman John Rosenthal (Fourth Ward), who chairs the Legal Committee as well as the Public Works and Parks Committee, to declare that the issue of alternate side of the street parking would be taken up after the first of the year and inspired Aliya Schneider of the Register-Star to do something of an enterprise story on the topic: "City to mull parking rules." 

When I moved to Hudson in 1993, it took one parking ticket to make me realize that finding all the cars parked on one side of the street leaving the other side completely free for me wasn't a happy fluke. Since then, it has been easy to get into the rhythm of alternate side of the street parking. I never considered it a great hardship. The one thing that catches some people up is when the 31st of one month is followed by the 1st of the next month, and cars need to be parked on the odd side for two nights in a row. 

Strangely, although the overnight parking rule is elegantly simple once you catch on, it's challenging to explain--especially with the brevity needed for signage.  

One thing the Council needs to remember in its deliberations about changing the alternate side of the street parking policy is that it doesn't exist to inconvenience people or to extort money in parking fines from residents and visitors. It exists to allow the streets to be cleaned more than once a week, and the reason for frequent street cleaning is something that must be seriously considered. Regular and frequent street cleaning decreases the amount of street debris and pollutants, especially oils and other automotive fluids, that would otherwise end up in the river, carried there by storm water. According to Rosenthal, other cities don't clean their streets as often as Hudson does, but those cities are likely not riverfront communities.


  1. Well said. Time can be better spent on more important issues.

  2. The idea that it is not intended to extract parking fees seems to be contradicted by the lack of signage. The sign coming into town on 23B for example, is at the bottom of a steep hill exactly where the speed changes from 55 to 30mph, and if you notice that is the precise moment when you brake and your eyes move down to the speedometer and totally miss the sign. There really needs to be some signage in town that states the parking rules, people coming into town are always asking about it.

    As far as street cleaning goes, if there is no cleaning on weekends, why would parking rules be enforced then? It might be better to have alternate side parking only on days when cleaning actually occurs, with a posted sign, rather than this daily back and forth routine.

  3. Sorry, Carole, riverfront city or not, sweeping the streets more than once a week is unnecessary, a waste of money, a source of unwanted air pollution, an unnecessary loud early morning annoyance and simply a red herring designed to help the city generate revenues, now $15 a pop, every night of the week. By the way, there is no sweeping on Saturday or Sunday mornings, yet tickets are still issued as if the streets are swept.
    Solution: Alternate side on Mondays and Tuesdays ONLY and the DPW sweeps the entire city once a week. The law is antiquated, difficult to understand and unfriendly and needs to be changed. Like now.
    Bill Huston

  4. This makes a LOT of sense but I have a question: When in my street cleaned? That would be the 200 block of State St. I ask because I know that I remove about 15 percent of the trash on that street. I also remove trash on the sidewalks. Trash like fast food wrappers, lottery tickets, coffee cups, cans, drink containers, cigar packages, masks and gloves, register tapes, bags, bottles, lighters, cig packs, candy wrappers, etc. I do it while walking my dogs and put most of it either in my trash or the city bins on 2nd or 3rd. I find it difficult to believe anyone cleans it more than once every quarter. This is just the street, not the sidewalks. Wouldn't I hear or see some street cleaning vehicle pass through in the wee hours? Please advise.

  5. I'm not entirely clear why "lower" Union and Allen below Third St. have daily alternate side parking while further east on Union the rules governing alternate side parking are different. Perhaps there is a simple explanation. I look forward to learning more.

  6. No city, village, hamlet, borough, megalopolis, town--or any community on the river, within 10 miles of a river, in a desert, on a glacier (you name the geological conditions) makes its own citizens park on opposite sides of the street every night of the year in residential areas.
    It is an absolute lie that the streets are cleaned more than two nights a week. Therefore, there is no need whatsoever to force citizens to needlessly leave their homes and drive their cars around every day of the week. In fact, this policy is likely a holdover from the 1950's when Hudson had to be raided by federal officials.
    It is especially egregious in winter when no street cleaning is done whatsoever. Again, not a single community within thousands of miles of Hudson makes its citizens park on opposite sides every night of the week in residential areas during the winter.
    Of great importance is the fact that this policy specifically targets and harms the poor, sick and elderly for the following reasons: 1) the poorer community members tend to not have off-street parking. 2) the city is forcing the elderly and sick to have to leave their homes to move their cars every single day in freezing upstate NY for absolutely no reason at all.
    On top of this, we are in the middle of a pandemic. Yet the Mayor and City Council members have decided that they want to force people out doors for no reason whatsoever to move their cars around. Please note that no other community makes their citizens do this during the winter. They—just like Hudson—already have effective policies for dealing with winter storms. Unless government officials contend that the winter weather here is dramatically different and more severe than, say, Catskill, Athens, Claverack, Greenport, Albany, Red Hook, etc. etc.--the "we have to do this during winter" "explanation" is beyond absurd.
    Note that during this pandemic there are far more cars here than normal. I have seen fights almost break out over parking due to this increased volume of cars. I would also imagine that it does not leave the best impression of visitors who were targeted by this pathetic rule. Yet I have heard the comically absurd “explanation” that they should have read the tiny sign mentioning this as they drove into town.
    Finally, the Mayor claims that he wants to reduce the police budget but, in fact, he has gone out of his way to reinstate this absurd and damaging policy and effectively force the police to become meter maids and drive around all night long ticketing citizens for no reason whatsoever. This not only requires more money to fund this completely unnecessary activity it also forces the police to give tickets--effectively punishing innocent civilians for no reason whatsoever. While I cannot speak for the police I would imagine that they would rather do other things.
    Note as well that this increased budgeting required to enforce this preposterous rule also creates more administrative work--and a budget to support that. Let’s be clear: this asinine policy forces innocent civilians—most notably the elderly, sick and poor—in the middle of a surging pandemic to needlessly go out doors. It forces those who are too weak or sick or old to move their cars (or someone who commits the wicked sin of forgetting) to then venture out and into public spaces to pay fines for their “terrible” behavior.
    (P.S. I have off street parking.)

    1. Pretty broad statements — “thousands of miles” — almost sounds like hyperbole.

  7. I fully support Trombley and Rosenthal's efforts to dig into the parking issue, though I hope they do it in the context not just of overnight alternate-side parking, but of overall transportation in the city.

    Hudson needs to build out infrastructure to support pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and disincentivize car ownership if possible (a car-sharing program to allow residents who only need cars occasionally would be fantastic.)

    Parking with quarters in meters is an administrative hassle, one we can do without. I would like to see meters with peak and off-peak rates for visitors and parking passes for residents. I realize this is not a problem that can be fixed immediately, but what is the point of subjecting ourselves to governance without long-term planning?

    It would be great to encourage visitors to take the train and walk or bike around instead of driving up here. Alas, the mayor and Common Council president saddled us with a tourism board more interested in pork barrel spending and patronage than actually working to make our city a more livable place to visit.

    I do encourage everyone to vote.

    1. Discourage private car ownership? This is Hudson, the 2 square mile city. People want to live in a slightly larger footprint and often need to — shopping, etc. if people want to own a car that’s their business. Worry about parking and don’t try to socially engineer your neighbors.

  8. IF -- and I do mean IF -- there is regular street cleaning going on throughout the city -- on, say, weekdays (and even if the locations vary day to day and week to week -- I have no idea how long it would take to clean all the streets in the city) -- then I can see why alternate-side parking during the week during non-snowy months makes sense.

    If, as someone suggested, cleaning can be accomplished in two days, then perhaps it makes sense for alternate-side parking for only two nights.

    That said: even if the city doesn't really need access to a clear side of the street every single day of the week, there's an advantage to requiring it every day. Because what is the alternative -- a more complicated set of rules? Methinks yes. The current rule is simple and easy to remember, even if it does require a lot of moving. I am sympathetic to those for whom daily moving is a burden (I don't like it myself), so if there's a better way, I'm all for it.

    In the winter, though, I think it makes good sense to have alternate-side parking every night, because then if there's snow, the crews can at least expect one clear side of the street. That they can expect that from the get-go is so much better than someone -- the mayor? -- having to get everyone's attention to convey that drivers suddenly need to adjust their parking habits. (And I just hate wondering during weather events if I've missed an order by the city.)

    I agree that the rules of alternate-side parking need to be better communicated.

  9. Just to be clear, not a single town, village, city, etc. requires its citizens to park on the opposite side of the street every night of the week during the winter in residential areas—except Hudson. They all—including Hudson—have policies in place to get citizens to park alternatively for snow removal. If essentially every other city in the entirety of the United States can handle it I cannot think of a possible reason why Hudson cannot handle it the same way.

    One explanation I’ve heard says something to the effect of “let’s just continue forcing citizens to move their cars around every day for no reason whatsoever—and punish them if they do not—because it is easier to remember the rule.” In response, please note that the City of Hudson already has a wide range of complicated parking rules. For example, one poster mentioned that upper and lower Union have a different set of rules. Where I am, the main street has alternate side parking from December through March. The rest of the year it is alternate side parking only on Monday and Tuesday. The side street to the left of my house has no rules on parking at any time of the year. The side street in front of my house requires parking on the opposite side only one night a week. The next major street over has alternative side parking every night of the year. Despite all of these arcane and confusing rules, the citizens in this neighborhood have managed to figure it out.

    But the bigger point is this: why is Hudson alone in doing this in the first place? Are the citizens here of such lower intellectual capacities than those in, say, Catskill or Valatie, or Claverack, or Philmont that we need a “simpler” system—as seems to have been implied? Are the capacities and abilities of Hudson DPW officials so inferior that Hudson requires an entirely unique and punishing policy in place to help them do the jobs that their counterparts are able to do successfully in every single city, town, village in the area—and well beyond—without this “assistance?”

    Naturally, such claims are utterly non-sensical. Nevertheless—and I am in no way exaggerating here—these two “explanations” are by far the best I’ve heard so far. That, I sincerely hope, just goes to show how preposterously absurd Hudson’s parking policy is in the first place…

    1. Apparently you did not research your statement that not a single city requires.. etc. google is a useful tool.

    2. When i last checked Google I came across a town somewhere in Ohio that does the same. Nowhere else. What did you come up with? Why did you not mention any of these benighted towns or cities? One thing for sure: no city, town, hamlet, village, megalopolis, etc. anywhere near here has this asinine policy. It is unbelievable that people will so dutifully and willingly go along with this absurdity.

  10. N. 6th street between State and Washington, 2 blocks, parking is only allowed on the west side. There is no alternate side parking ever on that section of 6th - park as long as you like, days or weeks, on the west side, you will not get a ticket. I have been here 3 years and I don't see any more trash on 6th than anywhere else. If Rob Perry claims that sweeping needs to happen more than twice a week, he is once again making up nonsense. We are in a fiscal crunch, it is time to act like it. If I were king, sweeping would happen twice a month. This is not NYC. Maybe Mr. Perry fears getting his $100,000 salary cut if ticket revenues decline.
    Bill Huston

    1. Sweeping does NOT take place more than twice a week. In fact, some weeks there is no street cleaning done at all. And there is no street cleaning in the winter anywhere at any time. There is no reason for this ridiculous rule. No one anywhere near here does it. Yet people seem convinced that they have to do it for no reason other than they have been doing it.

  11. Life in Hudson is really NOT that difficult people.
    So Hudson City Government let’s make it easier for all.
    Replace the after midnight, the next day date, even-odd street parking law.
    Revise it to the same date rule. As in if the day is an even date park on the even side, date is an odd number, odd side.
    And here’s something new. Let’s start by saying I love dogs.
    With all the wonder dogs walking on our streets, especially Warren, maybe the Hudson Govt may want to investigate cleaning the magic spots, lamp posts, parking meters, etc, of germs too.
    Maybe consider attendant multi-level parking garage.
    Hey, before you guys start I want you to know that there’s one a stone throw from Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem,MA.

  12. I was told by an old timer, that the rules were originally put in place because there were a number of residents who used the street as storage for dilapidated and undrivable cars. At the time, this was a round about way of dealing with that, if the cars aren't moved, you can tow them away. It was a draconian and punitive method of dealing with a problem, like fencing in the fountain in the 7th Street Park.

    Today this makes no sense. It might be better, as an example, to have a sign on one side of the street that says: [No Parking, Mondays and Thursdays, 12-6AM] and on the other side [No Parking, Tuesdays and Fridays, 12-6AM] A different street could have a different daily cleaning schedule. This would clarify it for residents and visitors alike, who could see a sign and understand the parking rules.

    1. Why make people move their car four times a week? Why not two? Or zero? Again, there is not a single town or city anywhere near here that has a policy where citizens must move their cars more than twice a week. Some don't have any such requirements but the maximum is two days. The burning question is why does Hudson alone impose this draconian rule and punish its citizens for no reason whatsoever? Why is Catskill, Athens, Clavsarack, Greenport, Philmont, Hillsdale, Red hook, Tivoli, Albany, Schenectady, Troy--and every single suburb or rural town (on water, near water, far from water) able to manage this differently than Hudson? What is the problem with Hudson? Is it the citizens, the government--or something else?

  13. Replies
    1. What, do you have your own driveway to park your car? This issue is not "quirky." For most car owning residents it is called a quality of life issue, but one that apparently does not affect you.

    2. Just read the RS article, and it confirmed what I suspected - DPW sweeps the city streets 5 mornings a week, according to Rob Perry. 5 ! I will say it again: the bloated Department of Public Waste budget is choking Hudson.

  14. The RS article was one-sided and simply quoted the DPW and fire chief without comment or analysis. Firstly, I do not believe that any streets are swept 5 times a week. The claim that they sweep the streets in winter is also not true. Moreover, there are many streets that only have alternate side parking two times a week--and some none. So that never happens for those streets. This raises the question of why this is the case. Do the cars on those streets emit less waste for some mysterious reason?

    Secondly, blindly accepting the claim that this ridiculous regimen of supposed daily sweeping is done because it is good for the river is comical in the extreme. Please note that basically every major city was founded near a body of water. Yet not a single one of them has this ridiculous policy in place. But apparently the DPW in Hudson is filled with environmental expertise that exists nowhere else. Are we light years ahead of the rest of the world in this regard? Or is this simply an ex post facto explanation for something else that’s going on?

    Does anyone really believe that forcing all citizens to drive their cars around needlessly every day and then have a massive truck sweep the streets on a daily basis is actually a good idea for the environment? Is there any study to back this up or do people just blindly and uncritically accept what they are told?

    I’d like to think that the following happened: the DPW and the street cleaner got together for beers and came up with this preposterous—and yet ingenious—“explanation.” Knowing that there will be a knee-jerk positive and uncritical response to any claims that something is being done to help the environment they cooked up this absurd explanation and burped it out to the gullible reporter. But they didn’t stop there. Why not fold in first responders as well? Who would object to a policy that helps first responders?! So they wrangled the fire chief to come out and claim that this policy helps fire trucks because they are more easily able to take a “direct route” to emergencies.

    Please stop and think about this for a moment. Remember that this policy only is in effect from midnight to 6 AM—and only on certain streets. Moreover, many of the most narrow streets (i.e. side connecting streets) never require alternate side parking.

    Does anyone really believe that this policy was put in place for this reason? Does anyone really believe that people got together and decided to only have this policy in place during the middle of the night—and only for six hours—when emergencies are least likely to happen and there is essentially no traffic at all? Was a study done to determine which streets were too narrow to allow trucks to pass through? Hello?

    I can imagine these ingenious people spitting up their beers laughing at how easy it is to manipulate Hudson citizens. If I were with them I would have suggested the tree angle. Forcing people to needlessly drive their cars around the city helps produce carbon monoxide for our beloved trees. Who would ever want to deprive our treasured leafy friends of this nourishment?! Why not require citizens to run their cars in idle for a minimum of 10 minutes per day? Save the trees!

    I have never met or know any of these people who were quoted in the article but I do respect game. And they have it! Proper respect is due….

    (P.S. For those who who take everything literally I am not saying that the above actually took place. In fact, it probably didn’t! But I’d like to think that it did….)

  15. Again, I would be amazed to learn that my street is swept even one day per week. It certainly does not look that way !