Parking in New York City can be the pits. The spot-to-car ratio is unfavorable for the modern motorist, to say the least. Those who invest in property within condominium or cooperative properties may well one day want to start a family, pack up the old minivan, and take a trip out of state once in awhile. But how feasible is it to have a car in this topsy-turvy town? Well, in co-ops like Seward Park on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, not very; according to this March 9th article from NY1 by Michael Sciotto, the wait can be as excessive as 30 years for some pavement in a hallowed garage. We could all be living on a space station on Mars by then.
Given the low supply and high demand, it’s no surprise that competition is fierce for these scarce spots. But do tempers ever boil over, leading to owner vs. owner or owner vs. board conflict? We asked some property managers if they've encountered anything grisly down in the trenches.
"We just took over a building [in Lower Manhattan] and had our first board meeting," says Steven Birbach, president and CEO of Vanderbilt Property Management, LLC in Glenwood Landing. "The board members tell me that there's a clause in their documents that establishes parking to be at the discretion of the board of directors. This means that the board could, in theory, terminate someone's privilege if it deems necessary."
"They have a shareholder in the building who lives elsewhere," he continues. "He keeps the apartment vacant and comes and goes as he pleases. He has a parking spot which he uses about once per month, and we're talking about a 60-some-odd unit building with a lot built for 14 cars, so people are going to get upset when they see a vacant spot. Thus the board decided at that meeting that they wanted us to draft a letter for their review, which they'd send to the shareholder saying that they're giving him 30 days to vacate. Now, if I'm that shareholder, I'm going to fight this, especially considering it's a spot that I'd been holding for years and I'm not violating any rules."
Out in Elmhurst, Queens, Martin Kera, the president of New York City-based Bren Management Corp., worked with a 22-unit condo that had 17 outdoor parking spots sold in accordance with apartments; a more favorable ratio than Birbach's, but it too was not without its problems. "There was an area where the parking spots ran parallel to the curb," he says. "Certain people would park two cars perpendicular in one spot, at two different places. This blocked other people from getting in and out. When approached by aggravated car owners, I wrote letters to the violators, which were summarily ignored. This put both management and board in a situation where we'd have to tow owners, and the board didn't want to fight over that."