Brooklyn Pols Revive Proposal for Residential Permit Parking

On Friday, a trio of local electeds pushed for legislation that would allow New York City to create a residential permit parking system. The Daily News and NY1 picked up the story, and if those reports have you wondering about specifics, that’s because much of the plan has yet to be hammered out.

An RPP program, which would establish districts within the city where car owners must display permits to park legally in most on-street spaces, needs Albany’s assent to become law. Assembly Member Joan Millman and State Senator Daniel Squadron have introduced bills in their respective chambers, with the details of the permit system left up to the city. Council Member David Yassky is carrying the banner for RPP at City Hall.

This is not the first time lawmakers have turned their attention to residential permit parking. Most recently, RPP got a serious look during last year’s congestion pricing debate, when DOT devised a plan to assuage fears that car commuters would cram on-street parking spaces just outside the cordon zone.

That version of RPP included only nominal permit fees — just enough to cover the cost of running the program. This time around, the bill’s sponsors are touting permit fees as a new revenue source for the MTA. Separated from congestion pricing, however, an RPP system won’t pack quite the same punch. Reports the News:

A Transportation Department spokesman said permits alone aren’t
enough to solve parking problems, and should be accompanied by a
congestion pricing plan.

"Without such a plan, we don’t believe
this bill will actually solve neighborhood parking problems," said
Transportation Department spokesman Seth Solomonow.

  • Totally unfair without residents who only occasionally rent or use cars being able to buy short-term permits. Without that, it encourages car ownership for those on the fence between renting/sharing and having their own car.

  • J. Mork

    Simple solution, Mike: take some on-street parking and rent it to the car-sharing companies. Price it higher than free and less than what a garage would charge.

    This way car-sharing customers would get cheaper cars, and the city would make a little extra cash.

    Also makes car sharing even more convenient and makes more efficient use of the on-street space, since one space becomes shared by many instead of used up by just one person or family.

  • Larry Littlefield

    If they want it gain acceptance, the benefits of the fee would have to be localized.

    The fee should be used for the city to take back responsibility for sidewalk maintenance in the affected areas (it is city property after all), and provide a less damaging schedule of street repaving and tree trimming. Careful accouting would be required to ensure that areas with permits got an equal share of general funding as other areas (that funding will be going down), plus the fee revenue.

    Moreover, I’d expect there would have to be some provisions to allow Generation Greed to benefit at the expense of younger and future generations. We are talking about the state legislature after all.

    I suggest a $5-$10 per month fee for everyone with a vehicle licensed and insured in the affected areas on the date of enactment. Future increases would be limited to the rate of inflation. Shared vehicles could be exempt.

    For new people, however, the rate could be set higher, depending on supply and demand. And in some areas a “parking shortage” could be declared, meaning no new permits would be issued other than to offset those given up. So no one moving to Park Slope, for example, could have a car. They’d have to get on a waiting list.

    State legislators, based on everything else they do, would love the idea that future residents of their communities would be worse off than those who came before. (We wouldn’t have to tell them that they might be different kinds of people who were in fact better off).

  • Larry Littlefield

    Also, of course, there would have to be some provision for visitors. Personally I only see the permit as needed for the 10 pm to 6 am hours.

  • anonymous

    This seems like a good thing. Permit-only parking means each space on average will be occupied fewer hours of the day (assuming that the permit is required 24/7, not just before and after working hours)–that ought to result in fewer doorings and less traffic from space-hunters. Less availability of free parking means fewer people will be driving from one part of the city to another. The revenue is also supposedly going toward mass transit, which is an obvious plus. This sounds like something we should get behind.

  • Car Free Nation

    Why not charge for everyone but set the price so that it favors residents? Something like $3 per hour 10am-3pm weekdays. The hourly rates for residents who didn’t move their cars would only be 62 cents, while the hourly rate for people parking during the day who are presumably not residents would be $3. And if a resident actually used his/her car he’d save even more. $300/month for parking seems pretty reasonable.

    The advantage of this is you don’t get Balkanized regions, where people never move their cars.

  • J. Mork

    I believe the provision for visitors is that 20% of the spaces will not require permits.

    Of course, these will all be taken up by residents with illegal out-of-state registrations. But in the long run this will be good, because it will create an incentive to crack down on that travesty.

  • “Totally unfair without residents who only occasionally rent or use cars being able to buy short-term permits”

    You also need to be able to buy short-term permits for visitors and for contractors and others doing repairs on your house. This is a standard feature of every permit-parking scheme I have heard of.

  • I can support something along the lines of what Car Free Nation suggests

  • Larry Littlefield

    I think the whole idea is that city residents would pay, particularly those who live in or near Manhattan, but the money would be give to the MTA for use on (say) the LIRR.

  • I think it’s more likely for the money to just get tossed into the general pot. I hear there’s a pension tab of a few dozen billion coming due soon. Every little bit helps.

  • On the other hand, parking of all kinds is WAY underpriced, and the fees I’m hearing about for these permits sound trivial too–like, less than a dollar a day? I think rather than a permit, there should be some means to charge for actual parking on the residential streets. It needs to be much higher than a dollar a day, and it needs to go to transit improvements rather than the general revenue.

  • @Rhywun, I laughed yesterday when I rode my bike past a garage on 11th Street in Park Slope, saw the big sign out front that said “Special: $10.42 up to one hour” (not sure if that was the exact rate, but it was in that ballpark), and then thought of the people quoted in the Brooklyn Paper last week bellyaching about the new $1.50 per hour ParkSmart rates.

    @Mike, any permit parking scheme should should have an accommodation for visitor/short-term parking. Without it, they’d just create the urban equivalent of a gated community.

  • Lauri Schindler

    Tel Aviv has had RPP for years. From what i understand, cars park for free in the home zone, and pay EVERYPLACE else in the city. One side of the street is for residents, the other is for anyone.

    Fancy this:

    Eilat now has cell phone parking
    Written by Mikhal Ben-Shaprut
    Thursday, 27 November 2008

    Yes indeed, you can now park your cell phones…errr, your cars using your cellphones, just like in the rest of Israel. Eilat has recently joined the nationwide ‘cellular parking’ system called PaNGo. You can now park your car using the mobile phone number *4500 in most of the local authorities that have paid parking arrangements, including Eilat. The service does not involve a subscription fee and is designed to make it easier on visitors to the city who wish to park in organised car parks by offering a convenient, readily available, and easy parking service using one’s mobile phone. The cost of parking as per the municipal rate is 4 shekels an hour (1 shekel per quarter hour).

    Read the rest of the article: http://eilat-today.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=280&Itemid=1

  • k.geis

    As a car-owning resident of Brooklyn Heights who rarely drives but sometimes must, I adore the idea of permits in principle. But I’ll hate it if it turns out like Cambridge and Somerville, MA.

    From what I can tell, visitors’ permits aren’t issued there. They are theoretically available (for a price), but nobody I know there has been able to get the bureaucracy to actually come up with one, in years of trying.

    So I’m forced to stay in the suburbs, not in the city proper — /on the weekends/.

    A Brooklyn permit system has to be both intelligently designed and well-implemented, or else it’ll fail; and we only get one shot, since (as everyone here knows) Americans don’t ever repeal laws.

  • Lee

    I’m not familiar with this area/issue specifically, (in my on-again off-again periods living in the city, I’ve never owned a car), but couldn’t they just have metered spaces but give residents zone specific decals or tags that exempted them from the meters?

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