State Opposes City Plan for Hell’s Kitchen Parking

In June we reported on the city’s effort to bring some 20,000 additional parking spaces to the Hudson Yards area on the far West Side, via a rezoning provision adopted in 2005. Though it’s a remnant of the failed stadium plan, the Bloomberg administration nonetheless intends to hold on the parking component, going so far as to defend itself against a related lawsuit by claiming that the city’s carbon monoxide levels are declining. (Not surprisingly, neighborhood folk aren’t taking the city’s word for it.)

Four months ago it appeared the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was cooperating with the city by attempting to remove references to parking from its Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan (SIP). Back then the DEC claimed that parking should not be considered part of the SIP since the
city was not legally required to consider parking as part of its
compliance strategy.

Now, however, it looks like the state has changed course, according to a report from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign:

Officials at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation say DEC is resisting New York City’s efforts to increase parking in the Hudson Yards/Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan. The area, along with the rest of Manhattan below 60th street, is currently subject to restrictions in the number of off-street parking spaces allowed as part of NY’s State Implementation Plan (SIP) for attaining carbon monoxide (CO) levels in accordance with EPA standards. The City raised the level of allowable parking in a 2005 zoning change, essentially changing maximum parking restrictions into minimum parking requirements. The direct conflict between the new zoning and the SIP forced the City to seek a revision of the SIP to remove the parking program, and also got it hit by a lawsuit.

In short, the City claims to have attained EPA CO standards without the aid of the parking restrictions making the parking restrictions unnecessary and burdensome on planned development of the area. In response to the City’s requested SIP revision, NYDEC has asked for an update regarding the status of a parking study mandated by the SIP; the chimerical study has been "in the works" since 1979. Although the meaning of "update" remains ambiguous, a source says the DEC won’t entertain the City’s request without some accounting for the study.

Furthermore, the DEC is studying the possibility that the parking restrictions in the SIP may apply not only to CO, but also particulate matter and ozone, neither of which are within EPA target levels for NYC. If this is the case, the City’s CO attainment may be moot. It remains a mystery why the City is pushing so hard for more parking. The zoning was changed when NYC was a contender for the 2012 Olympics and had proposed building a stadium over the Hudson Yards. With the bid a memory, the zoning change is now a relic. With PlaNYC, congestion pricing and the great promise of progress looming over the City, to encourage more traffic-inducing parking spaces is counterproductive at best.

In related news, the MTA could soon be accepting public comment on those closely guarded Hudson Yards development proposals.

Photo: hotdogger13/Flickr

  • Hilary

    It is confounding to me that there seem be no plans to connect either the 7 extension or the new Penn Station with the waterferries. Let NJ come to the circus and games and concerts by water. And let the new residents of the west side park their cars in NJ – or just take the ferry over to shop.

  • Dave H.

    It turns out New York does not have to secede after all. Albany is actually good for something.

  • Anonymous

    The real mystery is why Tri-State Transportation Campaign is playing dumb (at best) or lying. The zoning is hardly a relic, it had nothing to do with the stadium or the Olympic Bid, and is promoting construction of 24 million SF of office space as well as many residential towers … and that doesn’t even include the Western Rail Yards, what’s being planned for Moynihan/MSG or the entire High Line area. That’s why they need all those parking spaces. Duh!

  • Angus Grieve-Smith

    Duh! to you too. I don’t want parking used to “promote” new construction: if it isn’t transit friendly, it shouldn’t be built in Manhattan.

  • Davis

    Duh! You have no idea what you are talking about. There is no required parking in the rest of the Manhattan CBD which, you may have noticed, has lots of office space, residential towers and plenty of new development happening. If you talk to developers you’ll find, for the most part, that they don’t want to be required to build parking in high density and high rent parts of Manhattan. The Hudson Yards parking requirements are a complete anomaly, contrary to the Mayor’s PlaNYC goals and it is not at all clear who these parking requirements are meant to serve.

  • I write as the former regional director of NYSDEC who in the mid-70s held City Planning’s feeet to the fire in writing the Zoning limitations on parking below 60th Street when Brian Ketcam and NRDC succeeded in the US Supreme Court in upholding Brian’s comprehensive Clean Air Act plan for NYC and NYS, which included the revolutionary limits on parking. The idea of relaxing them is ludicrous at a time when we are trying to limit vehicles entering rhe core. Of course, CO was just a surrogate for other pollutats we couldn’t measure as well or, like CO2, hadn’t thought of. The demand for this scle of parking is precisely why this was a bad site for a stadium annd to impose it now wothout the excuse of a stadium raise questions about the City’s commitment to PlanNYC.

  • I write as the former regional director of NYSDEC who in the mid-70s held City Planning’s feet to the fire in writing the Zoning limitations on parking below 60th Street when Brian Ketcham and NRDC succeeded in the US Supreme Court in upholding Brian’s comprehensive Clean Air Act plan for NYC and NYS, which included the revolutionary limits on parking. The idea of relaxing them is ludicrous at a time when we are trying to limit vehicles entering the core. Of course, CO was just a surrogate for other pollutants we couldn’t measure as well or, like CO2, hadn’t thought of. The demand for this scale of parking is precisely why this was a bad site for a stadium and to impose it now without the excuse of a stadium raise questions about the City’s commitment to PlanNYC.

  • Larry Littlefield

    (The idea of relaxing them is ludicrous at a time when we are trying to limit vehicles entering the core.)

    Well, we agree on that one, to an extent.

    If a charge were really used to keep traffic down, then it might make sense to try to shift parking from the street to off the street for those vehicles that continue to come. As it is the charge is uncertain, and the parking will all be in one area.

    On the other hand, why not have people park at Shea Stadium/the Meadowlands and take a train to Hudson Yards from there? In particular, drivers from geographic Long Island to that area would be a disaster, as they would have to crawl across Midtown.

  • Hilary

    In the case of an entire area being planned, like Hudson Yards, maybe it would make sense to create off-street parking and severely (severely!) reduce all on-street parking, so people coming into the area and those who live there won’t even consider it an option. Just the small possibility of people snagging a spot on the street causes so much of the cruising. It would also end double-parking.

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