Queens Parking Workshop Turns to Talk of Motorist “Rights”

Speaking of the upcoming second round of citywide parking workshops, the summary of Round 1 is now online at the Department of Transportation’s web site. To get a sense of why it’s so essential for non-car owners and livable streets
advocates to attend the second round of parking workshops (especially
in Queens), download the summary memorandum.

It’s pretty dry reading but there is some interesting material on pages 9 to 11 under the header, "Neighborhood-Specific Discussions." For example, in the Forest Hills, Queens workshop:

Some participants felt that it was a right of residents to own cars because of the distance between Forest Hills and the Manhattan urban core. Those defending car ownership rights felt that it was the compromise made to not live as close to Manhattan.

Interesting, this "right" to own a car. I wonder if Queens car owners’ rights include the right to free, convenient parking? Let me double check my copies of the U.S. Constitution and the New York City Charter and see if I can dig that up…

  • Jonathan

    Eric, my dad, a Slopie, used to complain about the hospital doctors and staff parking on his block. As far as plunking down for a car, parking is the biggest expense for car owners in NYC, and there are many extremely tangible benefits of car ownership. I have one and I love it, but I do my best every day to understand that it’s a privilege, not a right.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (I think Park Slope residents are looking for a reduction in competition from Marine Park or Ditmas Park visitors, though RPP would force people registered in NC or PA to register their cars here.)

    And frankly, I don’t think opposition to parking and riding is right, and is a valid complaint about snobbyness from Fidlerland.

    After all, 60 years ago Fidlerland is where the Brooklyn middle class fled at a time that Brownstone Brooklyn was poor. Now the residents there are waking up to a shift the other way. Why practice exclusionary zoning?

    Who are these Park Slope residents who care if someone from Marine Park parks on the street near the subway while they are off at work? If they use transit, their car is already parked before they leave. If they drive, they aren’t there, and when they come back the Marine Parkers are leaving.

    I can understand the complaint of people in Brooklyn Heights, where traffic congestion is worse. But most of the drivers there are heading to the free bridges. Equal bridge tolls would stop that.

    Speaking as a resident of Windsor Terrace, some of the locals drive their cars out of the neighborhood during the day, and a smaller number of people from elsewhere park in the neighborhood during the day. I don’t think that’s a problem. I think it’s a little selfish of those who do.

    What I want is a resident permit to park overnight on the street, say from 8 pm to 6 am. That way, I don’t have to return from out of town and worry that those from elsewhere are storing their cars on my block.

  • I agree with RPPs as long as the demand is managed by pricing at market or near-market levels so that cruising for parking is dramtically reduced. In that case, the increased driving by on-street parkers would not particulalry bother me–at least not more (or less) than driving by those who purchase off-street spaces and also face certainty that a space will be there when they need it.

    hat I disagreed with (and I didn’t make this clear in my comment above) was the notion that the existing “lottery” allocation of free parking with no attempt to manage demand was the beter way to manage curbise spaces. This view was expressed by one of the paid political staff at my table, an assistant to Congressmemeber Maloney. He proudly proclaimed that he was attending the meeting on the government payroll as he sat down at our workshop table, halfway into the workshop, and began forcefully expressing his views on parking. I can’t imagine that Congressmember Maloney would have been pleased by this; certainly I (her constituent) was not.

    The DoT did have an interesting idea of limiting the RPP restriction to only 1 hour a day. That way, law enforcement resources can be targeted during that one hour, but you still keep out day-long parkers while allowing short-term delivery and commercial parking before and after the “Residents’ Only Hour.”

  • hilary

    When is the residents-only hour? In the middle of the night?

  • Eric

    My take was that the residents-only hour would be midday, so that you’d eliminate the park ‘n’ ride situation.

    Larry, I’m not sure that overnight parking is where the problem is. Why would “those from elsewhere” be storing their cars in Windsor Terrace overnight? That seems like a reverse park ‘n’ ride, doesn’t it? And I don’t think the 45% share of drivers who are cruising Park Slope for parking are doing it at 2 am — it’s during daytime hours when hospital workers, DOE permit parkers and park ‘n’ riders are contributing to increased competition for spots. Frankly, I don’t know how much park ‘n’ ride traffic contributes to the problem, but I wonder why someone would drive from farther out in Brooklyn to have to cruise Park Slope for a free spot rather than just drive to the nearest subway station and ride from there. That seems silly, and not very environmentally sustainable, to boot.

    For the record, I own a car and absolutely do consider it a privilege, especially parking on the street for free. But I think RPP could add to a robust congestion plan, which I heartily support.

  • Jonathan

    Eric, Park Slope is the last neighborhood on I-278 and the Prospect Expressway before they merge into two lanes enroute to the free bridges. If you stay on the highway further you either are paying the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel toll or are caught in traffic under the promenade enroute to the Brooklyn Bridge. If you get off earlier you are lengthening your commute by exchanging a quick car trip for a slow subway ride.

    Your mileage may vary, of course.

    Also, at last night’s meeting, the residents-only hour was proposed for daytime to keep park-and-rides out. For instance, 1-2pm on the south side of the street and 2-3pm on the north side of the street.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (Larry, I’m not sure that overnight parking is where the problem is. Why would “those from elsewhere” be storing their cars in Windsor Terrace overnight? That seems like a reverse park ‘n’ ride, doesn’t it?)

    Perhaps for those who live in the vicinity of Methodist Hospital or other major employers, and who drive around during the day, daytime parking is an issue.

    In Windsor Terrace, however, there are plenty of spaces available in the middle of a weekday, as residents who drive out far exceed non-residents who drive in — to park and ride, or to go to Prospect Park. So why insist those spaces remain vacant, rather than be used by someone who wants to go to the park or subway?

    And even if there wasn’t, by the time people show up from elsewhere, residents already have a parking space from the night before.

    The problem in Windsor Terrace is returning in the evening and finding a spot. The absolute killer is Sunday Night, because much of the area N of the expressway has Monday/Tuesday alternate side.

    I would want the overnight permit to:

    1) discourage those who don’t need cars from having them.

    2) discouraging those who could get by with one having two or more.

    3) discourage those from places where parking is even tighter (ie Manhattan) using the neighborhood as a free parking garage.

    BTW, a family on our street who have since moved away used to park five or six cars, including, or so I’m told, those owned by relatives who live a distance away. They used to arrage the cars to save spots. Drove some people crazy.

    In theory, one could operate a paid public parking service for Manhattanites in a neighborhood like mine, as long as someone was home during alternate side to double-park. Don’t laugh. Lots of outer borough catering halls in places like Bay Ridge offer “valet parking” that is really having guys shift cars around on the street.

  • Peter

    If it’s congestion and pollution we’re all worried about, I have a simple first step: ban taxis.

    Not only do taxis roam around clogging streets, causing accidents, and spewing pollution 24 hours a day, but they get to MAKE MONEY for the privilege of doing so.

    Manhattan residents should be able to get around just fine using the subway, buses, and walking. Shouldn’t they?

  • What’s so bad about making money, Peter? (In New York City of all places!) There’s no shortage of personal cars out there making money using NYC’s public streets; taxis at least pay taxes that directly correspond to their use. The “first step” and many more have been taken in regulating taxis: capping their numbers, standardizing the fare, skimming some off for the government that maintains the roads they drive on. I’m getting rather tired of hearing about banning the one kind of car that every New Yorker can occasionally make use of, from people who are selfishly blocking the first step in regulating their own personal auto use.

  • Peter

    Nothing wrong with making money, actually. I’m just tired of hearing Manhattanites suggest that everyone else but them do the sacrificing.

    Taxis do pollute far more than the average car (The average commuter drives maybe two hours a day, while taxis that overall get far worse gas mileage are out there essentially 24/7), so let’s get rid of them. If everybody coming into Manhattan should be taking public transportation, what’s the problem with requiring those in Manhattan to do the same?

  • People who don’t own cars and depend on taxis for occasional car chores have already done “the sacrificing.” Do you really think that Manhattanites, outside of your rhetorical caricature, take taxis instead of public transportation? I don’t know anyone, from any borough, who takes taxis exclusively. People from all boroughs and the surrounding region use taxis as a supplement to the transit system. This canard of banning taxis would make life harder for everyone who without a car, a distinction that absolutely does not follow the borders of Manhattan.

    Nor would it reduce pollution or carnage on the streets. The 30% of traffic (at most?) freed up by eliminating taxis that serve many people per car per day would quickly be refilled by personal cars serving one person per car per day. Of all the alternatives to pricing and parking reform, this is the most boneheaded.

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