You know you’re a suburbanite if you’ve ever woken up with a start in the middle of the night between Nov. 1 and April 1 and realized that you forgot to pull the car in the driveway.
You also know you’re a suburbanite if you’ve walked out to the street on a warm, sunny morning and seen a piece of paper under your windshield wiper left for you by a police officer.
It didn’t matter that your air conditioner was running at the time or that the weather forecast called for overnight lows in the 60s for the next week or that you were getting up early to play 18 holes and then go to the beach: Several towns and villages want the streets clear so that their plows and salters can do their job in the event of a snowstorm so they ban overnight parking during that five-month period.
The fact that they happen to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue by ticketing vehicles that don’t comply, even when THERE IS NOT A SNOWBALL’S CHANCE IN YOU-KNOW-WHERE OF SNOW, is just a coincidence.
Happily, those days may be coming to an end. And the village of Kenmore is leading the way.
[Related: When Buffalo parking bans become effective]
This is not to say that Kenmore was the first or only municipality to finally realize that holding fast to an arbitrary parking ban season was a mistake. By March of this year, it became clear that winter was never going to make a serious appearance and several municipalities ended their bans weeks before April 1.
And this fall, as summer has stubbornly hung around into November, some of our largest communities checked out the forecast and decided that Nov. 1 would bear a closer resemblance to July 1 than Jan. 1 and delayed the ban for about two weeks.
Kenmore took the idea one step further. The village that is arguably best known as the last place you ever want to do the wrong thing with your motor vehicle - ask around - this year decided to push back the start of its overnight parking ban to Nov. 15 and to end it on March 15, thus giving its residents a full month of extra on-street parking.
[Related: Amherst delays parking ban until Nov. 16]
Why? Because as we all know, it generally doesn’t snow that much in Kenmore in early November or late March.
But the village didn’t stop its new and improved approach to winter parking there: Earlier this week, officials looked at the long-range forecast, didn’t see a whole lot of snow in it, and decided to delay the overnight rules until Dec. 1.
“But wait,” you say. “It’s supposed to snow this weekend. What are they going to do if they’re allowing on-street parking and 10 inches of snow falls overnight?”
Great question. I had the same one, so I asked it of Kathleen P. Johnson, the village’s clerk-treasurer.
First off, she noted that the worst of the snow is not supposed to fall in the Northtowns, which is true, according to current forecasts. Secondly, if it does, the village plans to alert its residents via conventional and social media to please get their vehicles off the road to let the plows and salters do what they need to do, like it did when the October Storm in 2006 had the temerity to occur before the winter rules went into effect.
“We’ll make adjustments,” she said.
(Cue the heavenly hosts singing "Hallelujah!")
Here’s the thing that some elected officials had trouble coming to grips with for years, but that Kenmore has figured out: You can both have a law AND a common sense approach to applying it. If advances in technology make it easy to alert every family in a school district to keep the kids home that day because of the snow that fell, we certainly can find a way to let citizens know that they need to get their cars off the street because of the snow that might fall.
And don’t forget, we suburbanites have a vested interest in getting our cars in the driveway on snowy nights; it’s generally easier to dig it out of there than out of the snow mound created by a plow going by.
So here’s to Kenmore and all the communities that have found a happy medium when it comes to parking regulations.
Now if there were only some way we could get the plows to not come by right after we’ve shoveled our driveways …