Often when I’m out and about in my neighborhood, I’m reminded about what concerns some of our readers most — parking. If Trump and Kim ever do launch a nuclear war, the primary sentiment of the survivors in my neighborhood would be, “At least some parking spaces opened up.”
When then-mayor Richardson Dilworth visited South Philadelphia in the middle of the last century to discuss his solution to South Philadelphia’s parking problems, he was stoned by our parents and grandparents. “Stoned” as in getting rocks thrown at you. My normally mild-mannered Uncle Nunzi claims that he threw the first rock. Dilworth had the temerity to suggest that for a $50 fee, South Philadelphia residents would be guaranteed a parking spot in front of their own homes. Sounds like a good deal to me. But the feeling down here was who the hell was the Mayor to think he could charge us for parking in front of our own house? Hell, the City provided him with a parking space. What does the City ever do for us?
Uncle reminds me that Dilworth had a way of riling Philadelphians. He was called a “communist” as District Attorney for insisting that cops needed a warrant before they could bust down your door. Talk about your radical liberal ideas!
Of course, even Dilworth’s plan would not work today because lots of families own multiple cars. What to do? Some of my readers look to me for the answer. Well, I’m doing my part: my family does not own a car. That fact by itself should qualify us for some kind of civic award. The benefits of not owning a car in South Philadelphia are many. You get to referee everyone else’s fights over parking spots. You don’t have to shovel out your car out of snow banks. And when someone rings your doorbell to complain about a car parked illegally in your vicinity, you get to say, “Not my car.”
Recent innovations around here such as angle parking have helped. At least double parking has been eliminated. Residents no longer are forced to ring every bell in the neighborhood each morning before they can drive to work. But it will take more than angle parking to make the parking nightmare disappear.
The problem can be boiled down to simple math. If there are 30 homes on a street and three cars for every home (and sometimes a pickup truck, a recreational vehicle, a boat, a motorcycle and a partridge in a pear tree, just do the math. I thought owning bicycles rather than cars could solve the problem. That was before some guy on a bike going the wrong way on Moyamensing Avenue almost rode me down. Incredibly, the guy then threatened to beat me up as if he had been the victim. Uncle Nunzi believes the guy was just another of my irate readers. Until someone enforces driving regulations on bikes as they do on cars, my support is withheld.
Some of you might correctly point out that driving regulations are not enforced down here even on car owners. It is true that folks tend to park wherever they wish. We’re like “Deadwood,” where the law is what we say it is. We pride ourselves as being advocates of law and order, but not when it comes to parking our cars. Our rationale is that until the City provides enough parking for our cars, the rules don’t apply to us. Parking on the median strip on Oregon Avenue falls under the rule of precedence. If something has always been allowed, that practice becomes law. And that goes double for where we park our automobiles. If a policeman tries to ticket our car, that strictly speaking, is parked illegally, we argue, “But I’ve always parked there.” Precedence-as-law is very big in South Philly.
You want the South Philly solution to solving our parking problems? Tear down center city and turn it into one large parking lot. In one fell swoop, you get rid of all the liberals who are “ruining” the city and you destroy some of their hated bikes in the process. Folks around here don’t consider center city part of Philadelphia. Our people shop in South Jersey — where, by the way, free parking is provided. If we want to go to the theater, we join a church-sponsored bus trip and go to Broadway — where by the way, you can see the original cast. Plus the price includes dinner at Carmine’s, where I understand Sinatra use to dine. In our mind, razing center city would be payback for removing the Rizzo statue.
There’s a phrase that’s borrowed from “Game of Thrones:” “Winter is coming.” We hate winter, even more than the rest of the city does. Why? Snow. Snow covers parking spots. We are good citizens. As soon as the last snowflake has fallen during a storm, we’re out clearing our cars and parking spots in front of our houses. Is it fair for someone else to come along and park their car in the spot that we just shoveled? Where is the justice? Don’t ever try to park your car in a spot where the homeowner has cleared the snow. If you do so, be prepared to fight to the death.
Even Dilworth knew that much.