As Vote Nears on Manhattan Parking Reforms, Will Stringer Weigh In?

The Manhattan core parking regulations, most notable for setting limits on parking construction below 96th Street since 1982, have been an effective tool for reducing traffic in New York’s congested center. But the rules have also been plagued by loopholes and strange inconsistencies, like the persistence of minimum parking requirements for affordable housing. Recently, the Department of City Planning proposed significant adjustments to the rules, and while community boards have weighed in, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has yet to say anything on the issue.

Scott Stringer still doesn't have anything to say about parking reform. Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/ethikus/7139223853/##ethikus/Flickr##

The city’s proposals include: eliminating parking requirements for affordable housing; improving utilization of the existing parking supply by converting accessory parking garages, currently intended only for a building’s residents or tenants, into public garages; greater flexibility in the permit process for developers seeking to build garages; and finally releasing developers from the parking minimums that apply to buildings constructed between 1961 and 1982.

Most of those changes have drawn support from parking policy experts and neighborhood groups (though there is some dispute about whether the accessory parking change will lead to less traffic or more). The exception is the looser permit process, which could lead to an escalation of parking construction. This is where Stringer could step in and make a difference. Community Board 4, for instance, passed a resolution opposing DCP’s proposal to lower the bar for developers looking to build public garages. It is urging the department to strengthen the requirements for a public garage permit by asking developers to examine the surrounding parking vacancy rates and consider the traffic generated by a new garage.

But it’s now been four months since DCP released its proposal, with no comment from Stringer. While he is under no legal obligation to weigh in, the Manhattan core parking regulations are a key environmental and transportation policy affecting the majority of the borough. Community Boards 1 through 8 had all passed resolutions regarding the new regs by mid-January [PDF].

The City Planning Commission held a hearing on the proposed parking reforms on January 21; a vote is scheduled for next Wednesday, March 20.

Stringer’s silence stands in contrast to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who released his recommendations for parking reform in Downtown Brooklyn two months after the DCP proposal was released and two months before the planning commission voted. DCP incorporated some of Markowitz’s suggestions, most notably allowing the new, lower parking minimums to apply retroactively, so empty parking spots can be repurposed for other uses.

Stringer’s office wouldn’t indicate if or when it would release its recommendations, only saying through a spokesperson that it “has the option of submitting comments to either the City Planning Commission or the City Council.”

  • Nice use of punctuation.

  • Anonymous

    The CB comments are shockingly measured — and at times even progressive! — for parking policy. Since when should community board members be leading Scott Stringer on this kind of issue?

  • Ian Turner

    Is it just me, or has Scott Stringer moved significantly to the right on transportation policy over the course of the last 18 months?

  • Anonymous

    Stringer’s problem is that three community boards agree with the proposal, four oppose the proposal unless the accessory /public distinction remains in place, and one requests less accessory parking as of right. So there is really not a majority position to clearly rely upon…

    What is more concerning is that the CPC is proposing a sea change on accessory parking policy WITHOUT having studied this segment of the market. CPC is also saying that the current policy has worked well to reduce congestion while encouraging economic activity .. So why change it ?

    The parking industry has been deeply embedded in the team drafting this new policy.In Manhattan Core, the inventory of land to create parking lots is rapidly shrinking. Further, new developments are more often residential, thus the opportunities for parking companies to expand their business is severely constrained. Making residential accessory parking open to the public is the only way to expand the market for parking operators.

    Not to mention that these operators are already doing this illegally and the new zoning will legalize their operation, thus removing their exposure to monetary fines ..

    Very good for them .The parking industry or the consultant are not to blame in this instance, they are just doing their job, and they are doing it well. But the City Planning Commission is definitely putting a lot of trust in its staff, when it relies on a powerpoint to make decisions on new regulations, skillfully packaged in 50 pages of convoluted zoning text. This text now allows special permits for exceeding the caps on residential parking based on scientific criteria, llke ” being judged reasonable by the commission” without requiring a proof of need as was previously required. Good bye to the 20% caps! And where is the study of accessory parking to make these decisions?

    Transportation issues like car commuting and parking belong in the transportation portfolio and not in City Planning.

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