Is Manhattan turning into a trailer park?
That's what at least a few Upper West Side residents are wondering after an apparent influx of motor homes and RVs has begun occupying parking spots in the wealthy New York City neighborhood.
“It just sort of creeps me out that somebody is living in a parking space," Gretchen Berger, a commmunity activist, told the New York Post. "And this may give rise to other people thinking that it’s a cheap way to live on the Upper West Side, where the rents are high."
Steve Blumberg, a 62-year-old rabbi who owns and lives in one of the RVs parked on the Upper West Side, says he's been living in his on and off since 2007, when he lost his apartment.
"At that moment I wasn’t sure about where to rent and how much to spend and all those things,” Blumberg told the paper. “It just occurred to me that perhaps I could have a mobile studio apartment, so I started shopping around.”
Blumberg bought the 1984 Chevy Pathfinder — which features a SpongeBob SquarePants comforter and sit-down tub — for $8,000 on eBay.
“It is so well designed that I can spend days in here without getting claustrophobic,” Blumberg said. “It really is apartment-size. I’m in way better shape than the people who are renting closets.”
But some residents say the RVs are an eyesore.
“It looks like it would fit more in the mountains of West Virginia than on the Upper West Side,” Ron Hoffman told the Post when asked about a 19-foot, 1975 Dodge Sportsman parked on Central Park West.
It's unclear just how many RVs are currently being inhabited on the Upper West Side. Local reports by the Post and CBS New York indicate there are at least three, including Blumberg's.
But according to the New York City Department of Transportation, leaving a mobile home on a city street for more than 24 hours is illegal, enforced with a $115 fine.
“These are not like upscale RVs that you see on the Travel Channel,” Berger told CBS. “These are rust buckets.”
Last month, the Los Angeles Times profiled several of New York City's rust-bucket dwellers in a trend-piece:
"By turning to mobile apartments, RV dwellers are something of real estate pioneers in New York. RVs give New Yorkers a way into hip or exclusive neighborhoods they otherwise might not be able to afford. They don't have to worry about nagging landlords, rent hikes or upstairs neighbors tap-dancing at midnight.
"But there are obvious trade-offs. Getting electricity takes some effort. Heating during the winter can get costly. Mail may need to be delivered to relatives' places or post office boxes. There's also the issue of how to hook up sewage lines."