INWOOD — If you can't beat the surge of valet companies gobbling up neighborhood parking spots, then find a way to join them.
At least that's what Inwood resident Brendan Goldblatt, 38, decided when he created a Facebook group, Spot Swap NYC, for residents to share their parking locations with others in the community.
The concept is simple: If a driver is planning to vacate a spot, they can offer up the location to the group so that another can take it over.
Since moving to Inwood five years ago, Goldblatt said he's spent hours driving in circles, searching for a spot near his home. Sometimes it's meant missing out on spending time with his family, he said.
It wasn't until he noticed that valet parkers were illegally reserving street parking spots for patrons of nightlife venues that he decided to launch the group, with the hope that neighbors would join and share their spots.
“I just started seeing how [the valets] would switch cars, and they did that throughout the neighborhood," he said.
"It’s just neighbors finding each other and helping each other out," he added of the group.
Since starting the group strictly for Inwood residents last week, he's already branched out to Washington Heights, Harlem, Hamilton Heights, Morningside Heights, the Upper West and East Sides, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope and Riverdale.
"It's free and anyone can join," Goldblatt said of the group, which counts hundreds of members. "The only catch I would say is that people follow the rules."
The first rule is that residents post the location and specific description of their car, along with the time they’re leaving. The second rule is that if someone pulls up to the spot before the driver who requested it arrives, the person currently in the spot must leave it to the new finder. The third rule is to post as often as possible when looking for a spot and not just when leaving one behind.
The final rule — and the one Goldblatt said brings the entire concept together — is to pay it forward.
“It’s no secret,” he said, “Letting your neighbor know you're leaving and get the spot. It’s simple.”
So far, the groups are averaging about five parking swaps from residents per day, Goldblatt said.
He’s hoping to launch an app to help facilitate the process in the coming months, but for he's content in simply trying to bring some order to the parking chaos.
"I’m doing this for good karma," he said.