November brings Odd-Even Parking back to Ithaca’s streets

Odd-Even Parking runs from November 1 to April 1 in the City of Ithaca, which means parking is prohibited from 2am-6am on one side, or the other, of every street in town until spring. Watch where you park starting Monday night!

Even area residents and visitors who know of the rule are often bitten by the confusing wording. If you’re parking at 9pm on November 1st, park on the side of the street with odd house numbers, since in the wee hours of November 2nd, an even-numbered day, parking on the even side of the street is prohibited.

Mayor Svante Myrick, who rarely drives and doesn’t own a car, has said he would just as soon do away with odd-even parking regulations in the City of Ithaca. The Board of Public Works has been working on a new plan that would replace the widely derided policy with year-round rotating parking restrictions, in a fifth of the City on one day each week. A new plan isn’t ready, though, and Mayor Myrick didn’t respond to our request for comment this fall.

Board of Public Works member Mark Darling told us in 2013 that the board “is considering changes” to “a program that generates a lot of strong emotions from City residents.” One factor the subcommittee is looking at is the DPW’s need to do street cleaning and maintenance to curbs, gutters, and drainage infrastructure, not just snow removal. “Odd-Even would make it possible to clean to the curb without the labor-intensive posting of temporary no-parking-zone signs,” he says.

Be careful where you park starting this Monday night! Ithaca's odd-even parking is back.

Be careful where you park starting this Monday night! Ithaca’s odd-even parking is back.

In theory, odd-even parking ensures the City can effectively remove snow during the winter, by making sure each side of the street is free of parked cars at least every couple of days, even if they won’t necessarily get to clear any particular street every other day. “Public Works has streets on a priority list. There are only so many of them and only so much time,” City Alderperson and Acting Mayor Deborah Mohlenhoff told me last fall.

“Although many people are frustrated by [Odd-Even Parking], another system or the elimination of it entirely was also not viable,” Mohlenhoff told us last year of the City’s efforts to look into alternatives. “Many many members of the public came forward to say it was not a bad system.”

The rule applies even on streets with parking on only one side. Drivers must find another street on which to park overnight. Vehicles parked on the wrong side of the street between 2-6am from November through March are ticketed, and vehicles that have not been moved in 72 hours could be considered abandoned and towed at the owner’s expense.

The exception? North Cayuga Street, which was restriped last year with bike lanes and parking only on one side of the street for much of its length. From Farm to Marshall Street, there’s only one-hour parking on the east side of the street and no parking on the west side. Residents will not be able to park overnight in this area, and must find spaces on side streets. From Marshall to Lincoln Street, 24-hour parking is allowed on the east side of the street — but you can’t leave your car longer than 24 hours! You must move it every day. From Lincoln Street to the north end of North Cayuga Street at the city line, no parking is allowed on either side of the street. City Clerk Julie Holcomb says new signage has been installed that should help make the restrictions clear on each block.

Ithaca resident Cameron Finucane took it upon himself a few years ago to produce a web site that helps you decide where to park. Visit whichsidetopark.info at any time for advice on where to park. Whether it’s before or after midnight, the site will correctly tell you which side of the street you can park on for that night.

The City might still consider a new system down the road, such as a snow emergency system where residents must get their cars off one side of the street or the other only when there’s been significant snowfall. Mohlenhoff said they “hadn’t come up with a good way to communicate it.” She added, “we left it where it is for now until we can find time to take another stab at a new system.”

No comment from Common Council this fall on any progress toward a new system, so for now, the old system stands! From November 1st through April 1st, parking is prohibited on City streets from 2am-6am on the odd-numbered side of the street on odd-numbered days, and the even-numbered side of the street on even-numbered days.

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