Muscovites Wage Fierce Wars for Tiny Parking Lots

Parking wars are waged in many Moscow yards. According to the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, in efforts to secure a parking spot, local residents resort to various methods, from intricate methods of torture to hiring outside help.

It’s not a rare occasion when a car parked in someone’s yard in downtown Moscow for just a minute gets “trapped.” After entering the yard behind a local resident, a driver is unable to leave since the gates are closed. Local residents enjoy their small triumph, looking at the victim through their windows. Drivers entering the yard say: “Ask the one who let you in to let you out.”

There are also sophisticated methods of “torture”- the residents slightly open the gates in front of a stranger and close it right in front of his nose. They repeat it several times. The locals can throw an egg or a tomato at a strange driver, or sometimes, a plastic bag filled with water. They say that under these circumstances even strong men break down, let alone women. Victimized drivers end up giving money to local janitors, grab their tire irons, or just hide in their cars and cry.

The ways to secure a parking spot

An excellent example is the yard of building 73/68 on Novoslobodskaya Street. A couple of years ago a business center was built in its vicinity. Office workers attacked nearby yards. Local residents suffered from numerous cars. They installed barriers, but office managers still managed to sneak in.

It turned out there was a “rat” in the building who sold barrier keys to strangers. The traitor, a retiree, was tracked down. He confessed that he was selling the entry rights, 100 rubles per car. According to a conservative estimate, the old man made at least a thousand rubles a day. However, he was “on duty” only in the mornings and evenings. If a manager had to leave his parking space, a local plumber would come to his rescue.

When the criminal scheme was disclosed, the old barriers were replaced with new ones, this time with remote controls. The remotes were distributed among residents-car owners, one per person. The building manager issued an order prohibiting duplicates.

Those local residents who don’t own cars but have visiting drivers lashed out. This caused an internal war between locals with the remotes, locals without the remotes, and strangers who sneak into the yard because they don’t know any better.

Building 5 on Festivalnaya Street is another good example. The building residents installed a fence with an intercom on the gate. Someone would break the intercom on a regular basis. It later turned out that the vandals were “outsiders” who rented apartments in the building, but were not provided with the intercom keys. The yard was split into two camps – those pro the outsiders and those against them. While the war is in progress, the gates stays open and completely strange cars park in the yard.

Outside help

Not all residents can come to a compromise, and sometimes even building managers can’t control the situation. Then private security agencies come into play. Such jobs are getting more and more frequent.

For instance, residents of building 24 on the 1st Yamskogo Polya Street now have to chip in for the services of a yard security, three thousand rubles a month per apartment. These are emergency measures caused by the events that occurred three years ago. Several banks were built across the road from the building, which brought an inflow of strange cars. The residents installed barriers, wrote group letters to the banks, but nothing helped. Moreover , the bankers put up strong resistance.

Building 23 on the 5st Yamskogo Polya Street also has a gate keeper; he opens the gates for the residents and kicks strangers out.

Millions of Muscovites drive circles around their high risers in search of a parking spot.

In Soltsnevo, in the Moscow region, parking fights turn into criminal acts. A woman tried to park in someone else’s place. Her neighbor drove up to her and started a fight. The woman’s husband grabbed a knife trying to protect his wife. The neighbor ended up in the ER, and the woman’s protector is now in jail.

Russians are used to free parking

Mikhail Blinkin, Research Supervisor of the Research Institute of Traffic and Public Road System believes that bad practices of the officials is not the only problem. “Why are European cities that have three times more cars than Moscow able to easily accommodate them? They don’t have parking wars. The explanation is simple. Nobody expects free parking. Moscow is the only metropolis in the world where free parking is taken for granted. It’s nobody’s fault. We are very late with the parking issue,” he stated.

While designing a high rise for 100 apartments, European designers allow for an underground parking garage for 250 vehicles. The parking spots are later rented out to the residents. In Russia, legislation regarding mandatory parking spaces for newly constructed buildings was passed only this year.

The new Moscow program “Garages for the People” is created with intentions of providing convenient garages for Moscow residents. The program requires drivers to make an investment of 350 thousand rubles. Blinkin,a supporter of the program, believes that those who think it’s too expensive shouldn’t buy cars in the first place.

Some experts believe that the parking issue will not be solved until Muscovites stop double-parking with emergency lights “to run into a store.”

Price of a parking spot

According to the Federal Legislation, installation of barriers in the yards is illegal. “A year ago special committees for revealing illegal barriers were created in every prefecture. Within the first six months of 2009, we checked 5220 yards. We have a right to fine the residents who install illegal barriers for 500 to1000 rubles, “explained Valeiy Olenin, an employee of Moscow Communal Services Department. In reality it’s impossible to prove the involvement of a particular person with illegal installation.

Despite the absence of federal law, prefectures can make independent decisions regarding installation of barriers on their territory. Sometimes they issue permissions to install barriers in the yards that cause concerns. Those housing cooperatives that buy the yards from the city can build anything they want on their territory.

Barrier and installation: 52 thousand rubles.

Gate keeper: 15 thousand rubles per month. If a barrier is installed legally, fire safety regulations require the presence of a gate keeper. Normally guest workers are hired for these jobs.

Security: 60 thousand rubles per person per month. Three people are usually hired to protect the yard 24/7. Total minimum payment – 180 thousand rubles.

Komsomolskaya Pravda

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov