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Parking Reform and Reducing Congestion

Parking Reform and Reducing Congestion

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Published by Scott M. Stringer

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Published by: Scott M. Stringer on Dec 09, 2011
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BREAKOUT SESSION #1: Parking Reform and Reducing Congestion

• David King, a Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University, said that the goal of parking reform is to be more inclusive and fair (through planning and zoning) and that parking must be considered when preparing a five-borough transportation blueprint. • Bruce Schaller, the Deputy Commissioner for Planning and Sustainability, noted that parking is perhaps uniquely suited for neighborhood or blockby-block policies that are tailored to the needs of a community. • Schaller added that curb space is valuable real estate that must be rationed between paid/metered parking, space for commercial access, and other street needs. • Schaller promoted a series of possible programs designed to address parking issues: o Park Smart: A “dynamic” pricing plan that would base the price of parking on demand depending on time of day and the day of the week. Market-based pricing—an issue raised by others on the panel as well, including State Senator Daniel Squadron—would lead to more turnover and reduce the “circling” effect of cars searching for parking spaces. o Delivery Windows: The City has experimented with opening certain curb side space for commercial deliveries on specific blocks during certain time periods. For instance, on Church Avenue in Brooklyn, DOT has creates loading/unloading zones with discrete time periods to reduce double parking and encourage efficiency. o Designated Bus Parking: With the proliferation of tourist buses, Schaller noted the potential for designated bus parking, especially around the 9/11 Memorial site.

• Howard Slatkin, the Director of Sustainability for the NYC Department of City Planning, stated that the City wants communities that are walkable, dense, and well-served by transit with little need for cars. These types of environments tend to reduce congestion. To that end, the City maintains a policy of steering growth to such neighborhoods. • Given that the CBD of Manhattan is the densest part of the City (in terms of people and transit access), it has the most restrictive parking with building maximums and special permits for anything above. • In the Manhattan CBD, the number of cars has fallen from 127,000 to 102,000 since 1982, yet the CBD continues to thrive. • Other areas with heavy transit access, such as Downtown Brooklyn, have not adjusted their parking maximums. As a result, high density residential buildings that have proliferated in Downtown Brooklyn have brought an oversupply of parking that affects housing construction costs and the ability to build out affordable housing stock. • State Senator Daniel Squadron proposed bus permit parking for inter-city bus lines that have begun to make pickups and dropoffs on City streets as a result of the Port Authority Bus Terminal being at capacity. • In addition, Senator Squadron has introduced legislation that will allow New York City to enact Residential parking permit programs (RPP). Squadron noted that it would be important to impose price caps and a series of exceptions for local businesses/visitors in order to make RPP programs a success. • Echoing Bruce Schaller, Squadron also stated that commercial metered parking is not reflective of market demand and that prices should increase. • Michael Slattery, Senior Vice President of the Real Estate Board of New York, said that parking policy must ultimately balance economic activity and quality of life issues. He urged zoning requirements to be reconsidered (such as those leading to an oversupply in Downtown Brooklyn), the

broadened use of communal (off-site) parking, and the need to ensure that black cabs, Zip Cars, and other critical players in the transit network are accounted for in the City’s parking plan. • Carl Hum from Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce said that parking needs are as diverse as the neighborhoods of New York. Support for congestion pricing was high in Brooklyn Heights, but low in areas of Brooklyn with weaker mass transit access. Shoppers were happy when paid parking was removed on Sundays, but businesses along commercial corridors were unhappy to see turnover drop. • Ultimately, Hum concluded, parking policies can have a dramatic effect on small business. Some businesses have reported receiving so many tickets in Manhattan that it is no longer economically viable to deliver goods to the Island. We must keep the needs of small businesses in mind when producing a five borough parking plan. • Vincent Marino, a delivery man and Teamsters member, said that many workers are forced to double park because they “have no choice.” “You can only circle the block so many times before you get the job done,” he said. While UPS and other companies are experimenting with parking trucks in garages and making deliveries by foot, Marino said that delivery drivers operate under tight time constraints and that parking officers should make a greater effort to understand their plight. • In response to audience questions, Bruce Schaller said that DOT had reduced the number of parking placards by 53%. • Schaller also promised a DOT review of regulations in and around churches, which are often in force all week, but only affect services on specific days. • Lastly, concerns were expressed about the cost of RPP permits and whether, given the value of curb space, the appropriate cost would be charged to residential parkers.

TAKEAWAY: While the City is working to expand density in neighborhoods with public transit access and encourage a more walkable City, cars/trucks still play a major role in the City’s transportation network/commercial infrastructure. These vehicles must compete with many others for scarce and valuable curb/street space. One potential method of making the curb space allocated efficiently involves the development of market-based pricing for parking or other commercial access.

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