Could a consensus finally be emerging on residential parking permits?
The controversial idea of giving residents — and maybe no one else! — the right to park in their neighborhoods, has been jumpstarted by the mayor’s congestion pricing plan to charge drivers to enter Manhattan below 86th Street.
The Department of Transportation, which has dismissed the thought of neighborhood parking permits for decades, showed a strong interest in the idea — popular with many in Brooklyn — at a parking workshop on Tuesday night at Congregation Beth Elohim on Eighth Avenue.
Under a residential parking permit system, car owners would buy a sticker or placard that gives them the right to look for parking in their neighborhood — but not guarantee them a spot.
It is unclear how much the permits would cost. In cities with the permits, such as Washington and Boston, residents typically pay less than $100 per year.
What happens to non-residents is less clear. A few visitor spots might be created on each block or non-residents might have to pay to park anywhere.
Although permits work in other cities, many New Yorkers think of free on-street parking as an inalienable birthright. The city has upheld that notion for generations. But DOT officials are clearly considering a permit system.
“There’s obviously a lot of interest in it,” said Deputy Commissioner Peter Schaller. “It’s on the table,” but “a lot of it is how you do it. Any program will have multiple components” — but not just permits.
“You have to address needs of residents, shoppers and visitors,” he added. “You need to look at the meter issue as well.”
The DOT is studying those issues and more.
At a second Brooklyn workshop in January, the DOT will have results from an ongoing study that tests permit supporters’ central concern about congestion pricing — that it will encourage drivers to park in neighborhoods with good mass transit links to Manhattan and then hop the subway.
Councilman David Yassky (D–Brooklyn Heights) says the “park and ride” phenomenon already exists and would get worse if there is congestion pricing without residential parking permits.
But Yassky said he was pleased that the city is open to listening.
“The idea is now getting a hearing from the DOT and that’s a critical first step,” he said.
Residents couldn’t agree more, but they want the city to act soon, because parking is already a harrowing experience.
“If you come home after 8 pm on Sunday night, forget about it. It can take half an hour [to find a spot],” said Park Slope resident Josh Levy.
It’s not just nights when parking is difficult in Park Slope. A study earlier this year by Transportation Alternatives in February found that drivers hunting for elusive parking spots make up 45 percent of traffic on Seventh Avenue.
And another study showed that commuters gobble up about half of the parking spots in Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill and Fort Greene.
Some residents don’t think they’ll ever see the parking crunch resolved, even with residential permits, because of neighborhood overdevelopment.
“As Park Slope fills up, this is not going to solve the parking problem ultimately,” said Stuart Pertz, a Park Slope architect who has consulted the Municipal Arts Society on its opposition to the Atlantic Yards project.