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Blank Stares and a Friendly Garage Owner at LIC Parking Event

Transportation Alternatives Queens Committee Chair Mike Heffron sends this report from last week's neighborhood parking workshop in Long Island City:

The workshop was interesting, there were several tables each with a facilitator, a DOT notetaker (mine happened to be the lovely Dan Ross) and about eight other people. The facilitator led us through the last workshop and then we had four plans to analyze, discuss and write our thoughts down. In a nutshell there were two basic plans, each with Residential Parking Permits, one where residents and local employees would get permits and no one else, one where residents would get permits and everyone else would pay $8 for a one day permit. Then each plan had a "twist" where you could park for free on a street without a permit from say 8-10 a.m. and then would have to move your car across the street to the 10a-12p spot and so on. So two basic plans, each with a "twist" option.

I'd have to say the general concerns at my table were about residents getting parking, employers having parking for their employees, and no parking for anyone else unless they are doing something the speaker approved of. Participants would often say, "So there's nowhere for someone coming to buy something from a store to park," which usually involved me reminding them that there could be meters for those folks. Some people took a narrow view of what the boundaries would be, while others wanted to be able to park anywhere in the 'hood. Two ladies had concerns about people visiting who might drive but wouldn't be able to park anywhere long term, but weren't nuts about the $8 fee plan b/c other people could use it. There was a lot of concern about the new residents moving in, and some folks had the assumption they would all have cars. And it seemed the consensus of participants at the table (minus myself) was that the area needed more garages.

Even though I generally found myself disagreeing with the folks at my table, everyone was pretty civil. Most of my comments like "More parking means more people will come to park" and "There's never going to be enough parking for everyone, if this discourages some people from driving all the better" were met with blank stares but at least not open hostility. And I think me reminding folks that more meters could be put into place at commercial areas for short term traffic was well received; one business owner even suggested that the revenue from that could go to alternative modes of transit. And the garage owner who joined our discussion was downright friendly, agreeing that you'll never have enough parking for everyone no matter what (of course that is to his benefit I suppose).

So I enjoyed the workshop, and I was glad to be able to make my point with people without coming across as a red light running, patchouli smelling cycling commie. And it was more informative for me about what issues people think they are facing than a public hearing tends to be.

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