In one months’ time I’ll be moving from delicious smelling Wooster Street to the greener pastures of East Rock – the land of hipster gyms, hair studios and strict residential parking. In my time living on the boulevard of thin crust I’ve experienced some… transgressions, if you will. A constant injustice. Not to do with pizza but with the “parking situation”, or the lack thereof, in zone five.

Before we embark on this Rooney-esque tirade I’d like to express my deepest appreciation for Sally’s and Pepe’s for making what is widely regarded as some of the best pizza on the planet. For generations they have supplied New Haveners with scrumptious reasons to hate themselves. My beef is with the out-of-town patrons of these fine establishments and the complete lack of parking enforcement from the city’s surprisingly-named “Parking Enforcers”.

For the purposes of this rant let’s pretend that some terrible people hate pizza and have never been to Wooster Street. Here’s what it looks like:

Wooster Street
Photo credit: A picture I totally took. This was definitely before noon so no pizza is being served. No pizza. No cars. Follow me?

Wooster Street is in zone five – not to be confused with Greenhill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (remember; one has robotic animals). What is “zone” parking? Let’s let the City of New Haven website field that one:

“Certain streets in New Haven are designated as residential parking districts to ensure that the people who live on these streets have a space to park their cars. If you wish to park on these streets you need to apply for a parking permit.

Residential parking districts are clearly marked with street signs. Permit holders are still subject to all other posted regulations in their zone, including no parking for street sweeping or snow plowing when applicable. The fine for parking in a residential parking district without a permit is $30, this fine doubles in 15 days and triples in 30 days if not paid.”

Parking Sign
This is the right side of the street – where I park. Physically attaching red arrows to the sign might help.
Sally's Pizza
This is the left side of the street with free, two hour parking. Enough time to absorb pizza through osmosis.
Sally's Parking Lot
Sally’s free parking lot. Pepe’s has one too.

Now you have a lay of the land. The free two hour parking alternates sides as you go down the street and the same goes for zone parking. is correct; signs are clearly marked. Residents stay to our side. Terrible drivers and Yale parents (same thing) stay to their side. It’s an elegant system that has worked for decades in cities across the world. So what’s my major malfunction?

Nobody gives a single, solitary, flying fuck. Not the drivers. Not the city.

What I’m about to tell you is shocking so you may want to have a seat. Here it goes. There are New Haven residents that own cars. That’s where the name “residential parking” comes from. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it? When someone who isn’t a resident parks in a residential zone it takes away a parking spot from a resident. This is evil.

Resident Evil game cover
When someone parks in my spot.

On any given night that pizza is being served on Wooster Street I can show you at least ten cars that do not have zone parking passes parked in zone parking. I can also show you ten cars with those stupid “look at my stick figure family” decals. My neighbors and I usually just resort to walking everywhere but once in a while I like to keep two zeros in my bank account and go to Stop & Shop instead of Elm City Market. If I arrive back home past dark, forget it. I’m not parking on Wooster. I might get lucky and snag a spot on a side street but usually those are filled too. Last summer, during the height of pizza fever, I circled the block five times before I settled for the closest free parking I could find…..AT IKEA.

Route to Ikea
“Back in my day we had to cross a four-lane highway to eat rancid meatballs!”

The city should be making a killing on parking tickets but they aren’t. How do I know? I have two street facing windows in my nerd lair that look out over Sally’s. I watch the pizza-induced gridlock happen five days a week. I’m like Jimmy Stewart from that movie except the only murder I’m watching is the murder of this great city’s municipal parking code. What do I never see out my window? Parking Enforcers.

Parking Enforcement Officer Sleeping
Meanwhile, at the Legion of Sleep…

What else do I never see in my reverse game of “I spy”? Tow trucks….unless it’s the first or third Thursday of the month. Then they’re lined up like NASCAR – revving their engines at the top of the street waiting for 8:00 am so they can snatch your wheels, Slick. Dead serious. That’s not an exaggeration. Where are they when I can’t park within a mile of my apartment because some asshat in an Escalade has taken up two zone parking spots? Can’t be bothered.

Do I sound bitter? Thanks for noticing.

Occasionally, I’ll see a ticket on a patron’s car so I guess not all Parking Enforcers get paid to sleep. It’s the definition of an empty promise though. People from out of town/state/country who may not be back in town for months or years typically just walk back to their cars, pluck the ticket from their windshield and mutter a single “HA” from their smug, greasy mouth. I’ve seen it happen.

When I first moved in I tried to be altruistic about it. As someone who knows the joy of dealing with parking tickets I thought to myself “maybe I should help these humble folk. After all, all they want is pizza. I like pizza. I’m a good person. So they must be good people too”. And so I began my charge to warn people about zone parking.

Two Face Villain Meme
Toppings on half.

As I approached my first pizza-loving licensee a sense of great pride swelled from within. Was I a hero? Hardly. Just a man who saw a problem and thought he could help. I informed the driver as light-heartedly as I could that he was parked in a residential zone and that he doesn’t appear to have a pass. It would be a shame to top off such a pleasant meal with a parking ticket. A polite smile formed from cheek to cheek and I felt that I had done good – that I had made a difference.

Then he turned off his ignition.

“Eh, I’ll take the ticket.”

That’s when I became the villain. Now I know the tickets never come. Justice never wins. God is dead.

Actually, one person gets tickets on Wooster Street. He’s a handsome guy. About 5’11. Likes to write articles complaining about parking. I’ve been lovingly gifted at least five parking tickets in my time there for grievous infractions such as the nose of my car being a foot outside the parking area, leaving my car in a two hour zone over night because there was no zone 5 parking, and, my favorite, having snow on my car. That’s right. I was ticketed because a dusting had covered my windows overnight and the Parking “Enforcer” decided that snow removal wasn’t part of his or her job.

Why the huge disparity? I get five tickets but pizza patrons get to park wherever they want? Usually without consequence? My theory is the long standing relationship between the restaurants on Wooster and New Haven goes deep. The city could make a few thousand dollars a night on tickets easily but they don’t. It’s not like they’re oblivious to one of the busiest areas outside downtown. They have to know. We’re through the looking glass here, people. If I disappear let this article be my manifesto.

In conclusion, I’d like to paraphrase a line from one of my favorite shows.

Dear New Haven Parking Authority,

“…get your shit together, get it all together and put it in a back pack, all your shit, so it’s together.

And if you gotta take it somewhere, take it somewhere, you know, take it to the shit store and sell it, or put it in the shit museum. I don’t care what you do, you just gotta get it together.

Get your shit together.



  1. Sounds like more extreme measures need to be taken like flattening tires, leaving notes and smearing door handles and wiper blades with vaseline or a liberal amount of paint thinner.

    I feel your pain and people are so ignorant. For the record there are 10 pizza places within 5 min that are leaps and bounds above Pepe pizza. I have personally been to Italy and Pepe pizza is good but not great. The only place I visit is Libby’s for Italian Ice. Tre Scalani is overpriced and their penne vodka was not very good and overpriced…

    Great post but New Haven isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and I would rather spend a day in the upper East Side in NYC where parking IS enforced.

  2. Im am an ex Wooster St resident who had a zone 5 parking pass that racked up $1300 in tickets inside of a few months. When iwent to pvb to complain they told me yes u hav a permit but its only good for 2 hrs. I believe someone was playing a big game w me because the tickets suddenly stopped and i changed nothing. I always parked legally . I was a WOOSTER st resident for
    two n a half years.

  3. It is a personal choice to live in historic Wooster Street area. Yes, there are trade offs like parking and maybe if the local community organized they might be able to resolve parking issues but to just complain on a blog seems useless.
    If you want better parking do something about it. If you are not up to the task or cannot afford where you live….move.

  4. The article was great, as per usual, very informative and entertaining. I suggest introducing yourself to, and adventuring about, the old Taft Hotel. Notice, I did not say the Taft apartments. There is a truly amazing space a few floors below the lobby of the building that would be a magnificent speak easy. Do yourself a favor, at the very least, and venture down into the delves of what can only be described as creepily awesome.

  5. “Nobody gives a single, solitary, flying fuck. Not the drivers. Not the city.”

    You haven’t lived in New Haven for very long, have you?

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