Residential parking permits plan cheered

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A new facet of the city’s congestion-pricing plan would add a fee for Brooklyn drivers looking to park their cars on their own blocks — and if Monday night’s meeting on the proposal is any indication, many residents would line up to pay it.

A commission studying Mayor Bloomberg’s plan — which would charge drivers $8 to enter Manhattan below 60th Street during business hours — has recommended implementing the neighborhood parking permit system by next March as a proactive strike against the “park-and-ride phenomenon,” where commuters park in neighborhoods with ample mass transit and finish their trips to work on the subway, thus avoiding the “congestion” fee.

Residents would be charged between $75- and $125-a-year for the placard allowing them to park in their neighborhood.

Neighborhoods that fit the bill include, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Downtown and Park Slope.

Most of the 75 people in attendance at St. Francis College on Remsen Street supported the plan in the hopes that it would allow them to actually park their cars on the street when they arrive home.

“Free parking is not a divine right,” said Jo Anne Simon, a Boerum Hill activist. “This is about residents having the ability to park in their own neighborhoods without being crowded and having non-residents use their neighborhoods as a commuter parking lot.”

Simon referred to a Downtown Brooklyn Council study that said 46 percent of cars parked on Downtown streets during the day were commuters.

Local pols — including councilmembers Letitia James (D–Fort Greene), Bill DeBlasio (D–Cobble Hill) and David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) — are behind the plan, even with its admitted limitations.

“It’s a mathematical impossibility that everyone could park on the street … We’re not talking about a reserved space outside your front door,” said Yassky. “We’re talking about making it a little easier.”

But some critics say the program is just another handout to denizens of well-heeled neighborhoods.

“They already have mass transit. They already live in a desirable area, now the city is saying they should have a car,” said Mandy Harris, one of about 10 people wearing T-shirts saying, “Windsor Terrace is not a parking lot.”

That T-shirt captures the dread of some in Windsor Terrace that their neighborhood would have to absorb would-be parkers if nearby Park Slope opts for permits.

Other people in the audience said the permit plan won’t make a dent unless the city cracks down on parking abuse by government employees in Downtown Brooklyn.

The mayor recently announced he would reduce the number of placards issued to tackle this perennial problem.

Nonetheless, residential parking permits have been a priority for many neighborhood groups. For the first time, they seem within reach.

But the city will be hard-pressed to convert its concept into a workable system by next spring.

“If we’re talking about implementing residential parking permits in the short term, we need to keep it simple,” said Bruce Schaller, a deputy commissioner for the DOT.

That’s easier said than done. The city will have to figure out how to deal with visitor parking, what hours the plan would be in operation, and how to set neighborhood boundaries.

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Reader Feedback

South Brooklyn from Sunset Park says:
I do not understand why the city is considering granting residential parking permits selected neighborhoods that already offer good mass transit commutes into Manhattan. Do these upscale neighborhoods get to keep their cars while neighborhoods like Windsor Terrace and Sunset Park become parking lots and likely forced to give up their vehicles? ALL neighborhoods at risk should be granted residential parking permits!

Feb. 8, 2008, 11:39 am
Aaron Brashear from Greenwood Heights says:
What Ms. Simon fails to recognize in her statement “This is about residents having the ability to park in their own neighborhoods without being crowded and having non-residents use their neighborhoods as a commuter parking lot.” is that one neighborhood receiving Residential Parking Permits (RPP's) will turn another neighborhood into the same potential "commuter Parking lot."

The domino effect is obvious: start with RPP's in Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn, and you get a push back into Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill and Park Slope. Then the knee jerk response in Park Slope and Ft. Greene/Clinton Hill with additional RPP's will then push back into Windsor Terrace, Kensington and Greenwood Heights...and so on and so forth.

The RPP plan needs to be less myopic, focusing on just few neighborhoods, ad look at the Borough as a whole. Everyone will be affected by the Congestion Pricing Plan, whether you are car owner or mass transit rider (or in most cases, both). RPP's for a few exclusive neighborhoods wreaks of exclusivity and elitism. Brooklyn, as I know it, should be about equality and community. RPP's are just another divider, not a unifier.

-Aaron Brashear
Co-founder, Concerned Citizens of Greenwood Heights
Feb. 8, 2008, 12:19 pm
Mayra from Sunset Park says:
Sunset Park, especially near the subways, require street cleaning 4x a week! Many non-residents might find that an inconvenience. Non-residents will target areas with less alternate side parking schedules. Looks like its time to bump up our demand for more sweeps!
Feb. 8, 2008, 1:02 pm
Thomas Lawrence says:
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
26 Court Street, Suite 2709
Brooklyn, New York 11242

February 8, 2008

TO: The Brooklyn Paper

To the Editor:

It seems that the assumed mindset on permit parking is that the only commuters are those heading to Manhattan. I am not a commuter heading to Manhattan. I am a driving commuter living in Staten Island who uses the Verrazano Bridge to reach my Court Street workplace in Brooklyn. (The alternatives would be a city bus to the ferry to the subway, or a commuter bus to Manhattan, then the subway to Brooklyn.) I park my car on Hicks Street below Kane Street after 10:00 a.m. (when street cleaning is done) and walk to my office on Court Street at Remsen Street.
Some would be content with parking restrictions during just business hours on weekdays in order to prevent commuter parking. Some think restricted parking is necessary in Brooklyn Heights on the weekend due to Park construction. (I also drive in to my office to work on weekends, and visit family members in Cobble Hill.) I have maintained my business office in the Heights (first on Joralemon Street, and now on Court Street) since 1987, and formerly lived in the Heights until 2000. I patronize many businesses in the Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Carroll Gardens, and Park Slope.
How should "commuters" like me be treated under permit parking?

Sincerely yours,

Thomas Lawrence
Feb. 8, 2008, 10:39 pm
All the facts says:
Deputy Commissioner Schaller makes it perfectly clear at every meeting he speaks at that ALL neighborhoods will have the choice to "opt in" to RPP, and Monday night Councilmember diBlasio suggested that RPP should follow the subway lines. Somehow these sensible solutions fall on deaf ears when it comes to people who continue to push back because they think their "border" neighborhood will become a park and ride. They would rather keep complaining than become part of the solution.
Feb. 8, 2008, 11:22 pm
Steve Radacinski from Park Slope/Boerum Hill says:
With this monstrosity called "Atlantic Yards"
being dumped on us, especially the arena, parking in PS/BH is going to be horrendous. Let the "visiting" cars park in the neighborhoods of the politicians/people who don't live here and who support a project that even Dan Doctoroff said proceeded "illegally".
Also, I have every right and need to own a car which I don't use in the city, but need to get to distant places.
Feb. 9, 2008, 10:57 am
Susan Butler from Fort Greene says:
Fort Greene should have been mentioned in the article as neighborhood fitting the bill for RPP. Fort Greene was one of the three neighborhoods that was chosen to be involved in the initial RPP survey. The Atlantic Avenue station is located in Fort Greene.
Feb. 9, 2008, 1:35 pm
PV from Kensington says:
I wonder how many people have more than one car in the downtown Brooklyn area which now extends back to the Slope. Well one thing for sure if I were administering this pricing plan for parking permits I'd only allow one per residence and only one, not one per vehicle.

And honestly how did the city figure that 40% of the vehicles being parked were commuters or non-residents. Did they do extensive interviews? Do the license plates have some kind of a special code?? That sounds like a crock to me.

Those of us who live points South and West from Windsor Terrace and Sunset park along the F and R lines are going to get creamed. We're already over run with cars and especially trucks, not to mention the hundreds of school buses that seem to operate all day long and park anywhere they want.

I'm not a commuter. I don't use my car for much except to leave this benighted borough and city. I occasionally park downtown on a week day for medical appointments or shopping. It's too difficult for me to take the subway nor am I springing for or waiting around for car services.

Let me tell you too many government cars, too many cops and fireman and all are parking anywhere they want. Are they going to get tickets? No. They'll call it professional courtesy.

For shame Bloomberg and every Brooklyn politician who supports this. And for shame all you Brownstone crybabys.
Feb. 9, 2008, 3:22 pm
luis fernandez from fort greene says:
I think residential parking permits are a great idea but it should also apply to fort greene. I see multiple people parking on my block( Vanderbilt betw. gates and greene) and then head towards the C train to enter manhattan. This is frustrating for residents who work at night and can't get a parking spot in the morning.
Feb. 10, 2008, 11:58 am
Mandy Harris from Windsor Terrace / Kensington says:
If you live in a neighborhood likely to get RPP, your parking situation will likely get worse, not better and you will pay for the privilege.

You should not participate in this debate unless you are fully informed. Read this report (the very one presented and then glossed over at this forum):

It is a very good assessment of the situation.

There are more than twice the number of LOCALLY REGISTERED cars as there are spots on the street. With RPP (especially with the next neighborhood over opting for RPP too) that buffer zone you now enjoy will disappear. Can't park in your neighborhood and can't park in the next neighborhood either. The fluidity of the situation disappears and we all become trapped. They talk about RPP as a "hunting license" but what is not mentioned is the fact that while there may be ~6% fewer "hunters" there will also be less game to hunt. Net change=zero.

We need to try one thing at a time to see what works:
1. Congestion Pricing for Manhattan
2. Better and more muni-meters with progressive pricing along shopping corridors and major cross streets
3. Better and more express bus service to under-served areas of NYC
4. Municipal outer borough solutions (reasonably priced) for those who keep cars just to travel outside the city.
Feb. 15, 2008, 2:02 pm

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