Parking Spot Squat
In June 2006, Transportation Alternatives volunteers staged a "Parking Spot Squat" in Brooklyn's busy Park Slope neighborhood. The volunteers "liberated" two parking spaces, providing amenities that allowed residents to sit and relax.
The demonstrations created a temporary, but much-needed public space.
The event caused many to question traditional notions of the way public space is reserved for automobiles, and why that space is turned over to drivers at such a low cost. Many similar events have followed, and REBAR sponsored an amazing display of public space reclaimation in San Francisco.
Speaker: [00:11] What we’re doing today is just showing how this space can be used in alternate ways instead of the storage of private vehicles.
Speaker: [00:20] We’re on 7th Avenue here. It’s incredibly dense with people doing all kinds of activities, and there’s virtually no place for people to hang out and linger.
Speaker: [00:30] The sidewalks are jammed. You could think of how you might repurpose the space and everyone’s like jammed up on the sidewalk trying to negotiate this very small amount of space and getting in each other’s way when, you know, the cars have basically the whole street.
Speaker: [00:44] A lot of emphasis is put on vehicle storage whereas not enough is put on space for pedestrians, and bicyclists too. You know a lot has been said about, you know, Park Slope, how, you know, you get trapped behind a mother with a doublewide stroller and their dog and all that stuff, but you really can’t blame them. What we really need to do is think about how to expand the sidewalk.
Speaker: [01:06] Park Slope has no single centre. There’s no specific community centre where people hang out and congregate. And this is probably about as close as we get is Connecticut Muffins out here, cos there’s public space benches, so people hang out. So this… we’re in a sense extending that.
Speaker: [01:22] And we want to follow the rules, do what a car would in this space and so we’re following rules by pumping the metre. It’s a very cheap space. If you do the math, at 25 cents for half an hour, the space, one parking space is $150 a month.
Speaker: [01:39] You know this beats rent. Why not just live here for $150 a month? It’s bigger than my apartment.
Speaker: [01:45] This is a legitimate use for the space and we’re paying the metres and we’re using it and enjoying it and opening up a public space that wasn’t here yesterday.
Speaker: [01:53] I’d seen on the Transportation Alternatives website that they did this… they did this in Williamsburg and didn’t know they were doing it today, but when I saw it I was like, great, I’d love to join in. So brought out… brought one of my lawn chairs and here I am, just sitting, hanging out, enjoying a beautiful sunny day in Park Slope.
Speaker: [02:12] I was just walking by and I saw these chairs pushed out here in the sidewalk… in the street and I thought, hey, that looks like a cool idea and I just, you know, helped myself to a comfortable chair here and reading The Times, get some coffee. It’s really… it’s very pleasant you know. I never thought of it before that you could actually like, you know, put… rent the space, just the way any old car would and and it’s just, you know, camp out here basically.
Speaker: [02:37] Yeah, we thought we’d conform to the letter of the law which says that there needs to be a vehicle at the parking spot, and here it is. So we’ve been feeding the metre and parking our little SUV.
Speaker: [02:51] People have come along, they’ve really been excited about this work that we’ve been doing. They’re seeing everybody out here and they’re so excited that they want to contribute to our funds so they’ve been leaving quarters. It’s been great, it’s been great that people have been into it.
Speaker: [03:05] I think we should sort of block off some streets, like in Manhattan and in Brooklyn.
Speaker: [03:10] Well yeah, all the streets.
Speaker: [03:11] Well, yeah, because, you know, it’s easier to walk like blocks and stuff. You don’t really need that many cars. There’s plenty of subway and people would be healthier.
Speaker: [03:20] There’s actually a walkway in Tel Aviv, Roosevelt Avenue, where there’s a whole like strip, you just walk down the block and every other block is a juice, a juice stand or a sandwich stand, there’s places for children to play, little playgrounds, you know, it’s so wonderful that parents… and there’s a place to ride your bike. You really feel like it added to the quality of life there. And if we had something like that in Park Slope, I think it would be so well utilised and enjoyed by all these families, these young families.
Speaker: [03:52] I have to spend a lot of money to rent an apartment to store my stuff, but people who own an automobile can store their stuff here. It costs them $150 a month to store their piece of machinery on this space with a metre. And on the side streets there are no metres anyway, it’s free.
Speaker: [04:09] Imagine it as a… like a sidewalk extension or something like that, it would become almost like a little town square or something. You know you imagine, doing it, wrapping it round the corner and it’d be the other corners on the intersection, it would really become a, you know, a wonderful public urban space.
And we’re taking what would be two parking spaces and creating a living
space here, a place where people are meeting each other, hanging out,
talking. Activism has never been this fun.