Urbification: Taking the sub out of Calif. suburbs

Walking. Bicycling. Alternatives to Driving Everywhere. Social justice. Alternatives to suburban boredom and waste. And the infrastructure and technology needed to get there.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Street sweeping reminder service

One thing that makes the increasingly urbified California city more civil is effective street-sweeeping. Two years ago, I suggested to family and friends that someone ought to start a service to automatically remind car owners to move their cars on appointed street-sweeping days. Now, that service exists, and it can remind you via email or via messages to your mobile phone. Here's an article about the service from the East Bay Daily News, June 15, 2006, which is not archived online:

Parking ticket woes inspire new Web site
Street-cleaning reminders for free

By Jamie Morrow
Daily News Staff Writer

Tired of street-sweeping parking tickets? So are two UC Berkeley undergrads.

Andrew Siemion, 25, and Suneet Upadhyay, 20, have created MyMotorMaid.com, a Web site that offers free e-mail and text message reminders of street-sweeping days so residents can avoid tickets.

"I had about $600 in parking tickets when I conjured up the idea of MyMotorMaid," Siemion said. "I was like, 'Man, this sucks.' I thought it sure would be great if there was some way I could remember street-sweeping days."

For some reason, Siemion said, every third Friday of the month just wasn't easy to remember.

"If I have anything else going on in my life, I won't remember," Siemion said.

After the idea, implementation was easy for the two astrophysics majors.

"We're both technical people, and we knew we could do it, so we thought we should," Upadhyay said.

Since many Berkeley students don't have cars, he thinks it will serve the city's residential community the most.

The service is free to users and doesn't host ads, Upadhyay said. And now that the basic programming is done, the site can serve many other cities besides Berkeley and the five other cities for which it's currently set. The site also includes links to the cities' street-sweeping schedules in case you don't know when to set your reminder.

Siemion sees Oakland and San Jose as the natural next cities to add, though interested residents from any city can e-mail them at maid@mymotormaid.com to request to be added.

"We intend to host it indefinitely," Upadhyay said. "It doesn't take that much work."

The city is happy to lose the money if it means cleaner streets, said Susie Monary-Wilson, manager of the city agency that collects parking fees.

"I think it's a great service," Monary-Wilson said. "Our goal is to really not have the cars there. It's really frustrating for the street-sweepers."

While he originally conceived the idea as a money saver, Siemion said that after resarching street-sweeping, he realized how good it was for the city and the environment.

"It makes me happy to know (the Web site) can also have a positive environmental impact," Siemion said.

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