Southern Brooklynites pan ‘pay-to-park’ plans

Looming large: The rising Barclays Center will bring many changes to residential streets around it. Some are calling for locals to be able to buy parking permits.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Southern Brooklyn lawmakers say a bill that would allow the city to charge residents to park on the street near their homes is the first step onto a slippery slope leading to a world where free parking doesn’t exist — unless you have your own driveway.

The City Council last week passed the controversial bill that would allow residents living near the Barclays Center Downtown to purchase residential parking permits so they can leave their cars in designated spaces in the area — a rule that backers of the bill say will keep those traveling to the arena by car from hogging up the spaces needed by residents. Under the bill’s rules, approximately eight of every 10 on-street spots would be reserved for residents with permits. The cost of the permits, which do not guarantee a space, is yet to be determined.

But the open-ended bill, which still needs the approval of the state legislature and governor, allows other neighborhoods to opt into the program, and that scares legislatures in car-centric neighborhoods on the southern end of the borough who fear a domino effect would eventually reach them — forcing residents to pay for what has always been free.

“This is nothing more than another tax on our communities,” said state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge). “The idea that someone would have to pay to park in front of their own home is ludicrous.”

That could happen, according to Councilman Lew Fidler (D–Marine Park), who thinks neighborhoods that have better access to public transportation and are closer to Manhattan, like Brooklyn Heights, will quickly begin charging for spaces, and those that are further out, like Windsor Terrace, will soon follow suit to ensure their spaces don’t get taken up by non-residents blocked out of the Heights.

“We’re just moving the parking problem to other neighborhoods,” said Fidler. “I think it will set a horrific precedent.”

Longtime incumbent state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) defended himself against a blistering, though not entirely thorough, attack from Democratic challenger Mike DiSanto.
Photo by Tom Callan

Similar parking programs have been adopted in cities like Boston, Washington, and Chicago, where residents who live near Wrigley Field pay $25 annually for “reasonable access to parking” near the baseball stadium.

It’s not the first time the city has considered a pay-to-park plan. Mayor Bloomberg included residential parking permits in his failed “congestion pricing” legislation, which went down in 2008.

Supporters are hoping the bill will be approved before the under-construction Barclays Center, near the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, opens next fall.

But opponents say it will never pass the Republican-controlled senate — something many southern Brooklyn drivers are counting on.

“Parking is hard enough already,” said Phil Bentivegna, a charter boat captain from Bensonhurst. “This is just another expense.”

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310.

Pacific Street resident Wayne Bailey, seen with the rising Barclays Center behind him, favors a plan that would let residents buy a street parking permit to help them find spots after the arena is built.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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