CB 6 Committee Gives Thumbs Up to Park Smart Expansion in Park Slope

In a short, quiet and rancor-free meeting, the Brooklyn Community Board 6 Transportation Committee last night approved a resolution supporting the expansion of NYC DOT’s Park Smart pilot program throughout Park Slope’s commercial streets.

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DOT plans to extend the Park Smart zone from the light blue areas on this map into the orange areas.

When the Park Slope pilot launched in April 2009, the city raised the peak hour meter rate from 75 cents per hour to $1.50. A report released this June found that adjusting the price of parking had cut traffic by increasing the rate of turnover, which makes curbside spaces available more frequently. As the only Park Smart pilot currently outside Manhattan, the Park Slope project bears special significance for future attempts to introduce better curbside parking policy in the outer boroughs.

Last night, the committee voted in favor of expanding the Park Smart area and the time that peak hour rates are in effect. The resolution did not touch on increasing the peak meter rate to $2.25 per hour but rejected the idea of extending the time limit at curbside spaces from one hour to two hours.

DOT expects to carry out the following adjustments in the spring, when new Muni meters will be installed:

  • Extend peak meter rate hours to 7 p.m. (They’re currently in effect from noon to 4 p.m.)
  • Expand the Park Smart zone so that it encompasses Fifth Avenue from Dean Street to to 15th Street, Seventh Avenue from Lincoln Place to 15th Street, 9th Street from Fourth Avenue to Sixth Avenue, and side-street spurs off of Fifth and Seventh Avenue

The interesting exchange of the evening happened when one committee member raised the prospect of extending the time limit from one hour to two hours.

Extending the time limits could wipe out the gains that the higher peak hour rates have achieved, explained DOT Deputy Commissioner Bruce Schaller. “The combination of the rate and one-hour time limit is affecting turnover,” he said. “If you relax one of them, you have to make up for it with the other.”

Schaller reinforced this point a minute later, when a committee member asked about finding “more of a balance between creating availability but also for the store keepers” (two interests that actually overlap a great deal). “We’d be open to a two-hour time frame if the pricing can compensate for the turnover,” Schaller said.

So in the spring, Park Smart will be in effect all over Park Slope and cover all the hours when demand is highest, which is excellent news.

Still, this seems like a good time to turn to page 67 of ITDP’s report “U.S. Parking Policies: An Overview of Management Strategies” [PDF]:

Time limits have been notoriously difficult to enforce, though some new technologies may make it easier. Alternatively, escalating prices with increasing duration of stay have proven effective at increasing turnover and yielding greater productivity from the same number of spaces.

  • J

    This is HUGE. This sets a wonderful precedent for future expansions of this common sense program. By increasing parking availability, we reduce cruising, and therefore reduce congestion, honking, and pollution. Everyone wins. This may significantly improve bus speeds, and therefore ridership, by cutting down on double parking and cruising. This will also go a long long way to making the 5th Avenue bike lane more useable. Congrats CB6!

  • Certainly less high-profile than yesterday’s other Park Slope events, but noteworthy nonetheless, as J points out.

    My guess is that they’ll have to raise the rate to $2 or $2.50 to really have an effect, but at least someone who wants to park from noon to 7 pm will be looking at a $10 charge.

    As committee member Gary Reilly noted, however, if a round-trip subway ride would cost a couple about $9, and parking for a two-hour dinner would be $3, it still comes up a bit short on disincentivization.

  • JK

    I’d like to know why there was so little hysteria over this vote. This is one of those “dog didn’t bark” stories. I’m sure DOT’s Schaller was persuasive and factual, but he always is, and that normally doesn’t whisk away the irrationality. Are there important consensus building lessons here for other sustainable transportation initiatives? Or, were the effects of the pilot so mild that nobody got that bent out of shape?

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