4 More City Council Members Weigh in on Parking Reform

The mayor is proposing the elimination of parking requirements in new affordable housing projects within the designated "transit zone," in purple: Image: DCP
The mayor’s rezoning proposal eliminates minimum parking requirements for subsidized housing within the designated “transit zone,” in purple: Image: DCP

Last week, City Hall’s proposal to reduce parking minimums for subsidized housing near transit got a hearing in the City Council, and for the most part it wasn’t pretty. Council members may say they want more affordable housing, but for many of them, that support gets shaky if it means requiring less parking in residential development.

The parking reforms are part of a larger rezoning package that needs approval from the City Council in order to be enacted. Some changes are expected before a vote is held, and lower parking requirements could be in jeopardy, especially in areas where council members are hostile to the idea.

Last week we published what council members said about parking minimums during the hearing. Streetsblog is calling around to get more council members on the record. Here’s what we’ve heard so far — this batch of four council reps gives more cause for optimism than last week’s batch of nine.

Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez (Washington Heights, Inwood)

YRHSRodriguez, whose Upper Manhattan district is in the transit zone, took to Twitter last week to reiterate his support for the parking reforms. Rodriguez had previously voiced his support for eliminating parking minimums entirely. Speaking at NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation in October, Rodriguez argued for the elimination of parking minimums to help get New Yorkers out of cars and into other modes of transportation. “If we can broaden these reforms beyond just affordable and senior housing,” he said, “we will encourage residents to find new, safe and efficient ways to get to work without straining their pockets or our streets.”

Ritchie Torres (Central Bronx)

Council Member Ritchie Torres. Photo: Brian Frinke

When I spoke to Torres last month about DOT and the community board process, I asked him about parking minimums. He was unequivocal in his support for the new parking policies, pointing to the adverse impact parking requirements have on the cost of housing. “The dollars wasted on unused parking should go to housing,” he said. “Most of my constituents who come to me care more about affordable housing than parking.”

Carlos Menchaca (Sunset Park, Red Hook)

District38_MenchacaA significant chunk of Menchaca’s district is not in the “transit zone” where the parking reforms would apply. At last week’s hearing, he pointed to private bus companies that go between Brooklyn and Manhattan’s respective Chinatowns as evidence that the “transit zones” require further investigation, implying that he might want to expand the zone in his district. But he did not express an opinion one way or the other on the elimination of parking minimums. When Streetsblog spoke to Menchaca earlier that week, he said he was still undecided on the matter and looking forward to exploring it further during the hearing process. “The concerns that I’ve heard, I think, are well-founded,” Menchaca said. “We’re going to think some innovative ways to rethink this and offer some changes, and really think about the transit zones, the non-transit zones that might be transit zones.”

James Vacca (Northeast Bronx)

vacca_headshotA long-time proponent of free parking, Vacca has opposed the elimination of parking minimums since he was chair of the City Council transportation committee.Not much of Vacca’s district, which includes a segment of the 6 train, would be affected by City Hall’s proposal. But in a Bronx Times article from December, Vacca doubled down on his opposition to the proposed parking reforms. He cite the proposal’s goal of increased density in particular. “I was one of those back in 2003 that started the fight to reduce density of developments, and we down-zoned every part of my district from 2003 on,” Vacca said. “I am not going to let those gains go out the window by a plan that makes buildings taller or denser or eliminates parking requiremen­ts.”

  • Inspector Spacetime

    Vacca’s an ass.

  • Miles Bader

    Seriously, how do idiots like Vacca get elected? Are these positions popular with his constituents?

  • Of course, constituents who believe they can prevent change by opposing it. They like the way things are now, and are afraid of any and all changes. Its called being a conservative. Okay, maybe that’s a little unfair.

  • AnoNYC

    He got every section of his district down zoned when while need new housing. You can’t even build what’s been standing for generations in his district.

    He also targets eBikes, which is just stupid and negatively disproportionately affects poor minorities.

  • AnoNYC

    They aren’t. There’s a loud minority in is district, old timers mostly from the eastern reaches complaining about new development and eBikes. Simultaneously, newer generations of Latinos, Albanians and Asians and Africans need housing and some depend on those bicycles for work or delivery,

  • Jared R

    Vacca = the suburban vs. urban war. Vacca should move to Rockland County – he would fit in very well there.

  • celinahex

    What on earth makes you think that lowered parking requirements will benefit anyone besides developers? They just want to build more more more, only 20% is going to be affordable anyway, and do you think, with the massive influx of new people, there is going to be any contribution to the infrastructure of the neighborhoods to support them? Many more people who live out in the boroughs have vehicles than do folks living in Manhattan. Why is that? Because it’s more needed. It’s even a reason some folks move out of Manhattan. Reduce parking minimums for developers (always developers, always always) and get ready for a neighborhood parking shit show.

  • J

    So, dedicating space to storing vehicles necessarily comes at the expense of dedicating space to housing humans. More parking = higher costs to build housing. The developer makes the same money, but they pass the expenses on to you.

    Regarding on-street parking, when you give away free parking on the street, you get overconsumption. Same as when Krispy Kreme gives away free donuts–lines around the block. Raise the cost to the market rate, and people make decisions that are more appropriate. Developers will still build parking, but they’ll only build what the market demands.

  • Bookmark2016

    1.) subways in the “outer” Boroughs lead to Manhattan and serve those who work in Manhattan. People who need to work “within” a Borough often need a car to get around because of lack of subway connections. This proposal does not address the needs for transportation in the outer Boroughs.

    2.) Landers and DeBlasio have their first 700 unit affordable housing development going up in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. The reduced number of parking under that spot rezoning will be allocated to those with sufficient income to out pay for the limited spots. Parking space percentages should be allocated with the same percentages of affordable units in these buildings.


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