Monday, March 24, 2008

Note to a Neighbor

Thanks for speaking with me today. I understand your position about the parking at the end of the street, on your side of the road. I want you to know that I have never encouraged anyone to park there, and we’ve never parked there ourselves. If I’ve been slow or neglectful in arranging to have parked cars moved from that location, I apologize. In today’s case I presumed, mistakenly, that you had left for the workday, and rather than trouble the cleaners to move their car immediately, I thought it would be fine to let them finish, then have them vacate the space when they were done with the work. I realize now that this was the wrong answer, and I won’t make that mistake again.

Since the day we moved in here and your daughter made known that you did not want cars parked in that location, I have emphasized to house guests and visitors that they should not park in that space. On a number of occasions I have asked them to move their cars. As I told you on the phone, I will continue to warn visitors against parking in that area, and I will continue to ask people to move whenever I see cars there and they belong to folks who are visiting our house.

As I also explained, people feel compelled to park their cars in that space, for whatever reason. Accordingly, there may be instances in which you find someone parked there, and my wife or I is not aware the car is there and we have not been in a position to get it moved. We agreed on the phone that a reasonable and appropriate response in this case is to have you contact me so I can get the car moved. I told you I would leave my phone numbers for that purpose, and here they are:

[REDACTED] (home)
[REDACTED] (mobile)

I want to reiterate that I do not think it is a reasonable and appropriate response to block the road and deny passage off of [REDACTED] Street, as you did today to my cleaners. It’s not a proportional response, it’s not legal, and it’s not safe. I also believe it is not constructive to blare your horn and call the police, but I understand that it’s within your rights to do either or both of these if you choose (as blocking the road is not).

I understand how strongly you feel about this issue, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to keep the parking there to a minimum. You must understand, however, that my wife and I cannot keep constant surveillance over the street, and the problem will likely recur every now and then, despite our sincere best efforts. In fact, there may be cases in which persons who are not our guests are parked in that space, and we can’t answer for the offense or assist you with resolving the matter, because we don’t know the offenders. We have seen cars parked there that did not belong to anyone visiting our house. You said that you think posting a No Parking sign on the fence is unnecessary and unsightly. I think a sign would go a long way toward avoiding these situations, but I’ll defer to your judgment. If you change your mind, I’m happy to go get one and put it up.

You agreed on the phone that persons may lawfully park their cars past the driveway on our side of the road. Street parking is allowed in front of our house opposite your driveway just as it is in front of your house opposite ours. That said, as a gesture of goodwill, we will ask anyone who parks on our side of the road to park as close to the yard as possible, and if you have any preferences as to where in that zone they should park — to make it easiest for you to back out your car — please let me know and I will communicate those preferences to our visitors. This is, I think, the way neighbors should handle their affairs.

You and I both worry about “getting off on the wrong foot.” I had hoped that our relationship took a turn for the better when you helped my wife and I clear the snow from our driveway: I very much appreciated the help, and I gathered from this that neither of us might have made the best first impression on the other, but our hearts are in the right place. My goal is to maintain civil relationships with my neighbors, and the best way to do that is for us to communicate our concerns to one another and work constructively at resolving them. We should have had this morning’s conversation a long time ago. Now that we have, let’s treat this as a “do-over.” I pledge from this point to do everything I can to keep our visitors’ cars out of the offending location (we will talk to the cleaners tonight), and I only ask in return that when — as may happen from time to time — some visitor to our house unwittingly parks in that space, and you learn of it before I do, you simply let me know and refrain from these dramatic, confrontational gestures.



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