Jim Brennan Wants to Force Ratner to Build More Atlantic Yards Parking

Could the state legislature get in on the costly, congestion-inducing parking minimum game? And could they do it at the site of Brooklyn’s biggest transit hub? Under a proposal by Assembly Member James Brennan, that’s exactly what would happen.

Assembly Member James Brennan wants the state government to force more parking into Atlantic Yards. Image: NYS Assembly.

Brennan is working on legislation that would force Forest City Ratner to build more off-street parking at the Atlantic Yards site, as was first reported in the Park Slope Patch. Currently, an 1,100 parking space surface lot is slated for the site.

“We’re going to force them to provide more off-street parking,” Brennan told the Patch. “There is no reason that Forest City Ratner should be allowed to not provide parking.”

Tonice Sgrignoli, a legislative aide for Brennan, said the legislation is still being researched and no details are available at this point. According to Sgrignoli, ESDC eliminated a requirement to build underground off-street parking that had been in an earlier agreement with Forest City Ratner and this legislation would likely undo that change.

When Streetsblog asked why Brennan thought that Atlantic Yards should have more parking in the first place, Sgrignoli replied that “Anyone who’s ever tried to drive a car and park it in that area will understand why it’s important to provide parking.”

Hopefully, Brennan himself has a more sophisticated understanding of parking policy. As former Boerum Hill Association president Jo Ann Simon said, no conceivable amount of off-street parking is going to free up on-street spaces so long as they are cheaper than going to a garage and available to anybody. “If people drive there, they will always try and find something free on the street,” she said. What happens on-street — many in the area, including Simon, have long pushed for residential parking permits — Simon said, “is entirely irrelevant to whether there should be more off-street parking to serve the arena.”

Simon’s argument is borne out by the reality at Yankee Stadium. There, despite a whopping 9,000 off-street spaces, area residents still complain that on-street parking is impossible on game day, according to a Crain’s report.

Moreover, building extra parking will simply mean that more people are able to drive to the area instead. “Brennan’s proposal to compel more off-street parking in one of New York City’s most transit-accessible locations betrays a terrible lack of understanding regarding transportation and mobility,” said University of Pennsylvania parking expert Rachel Weinberger. “His idea will invite more traffic through his district, more traffic in adjoining districts, and by requiring all of that parking, other development is preempted.”

Agreed Simon, “You induce drivers if there is parking there.”

Steven Higashide of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, which has analyzed the plans for Atlantic Yards and is a member of the Brooklyn Speaks coalition, said that underground parking had been a part of the Atlantic Yards plans, but was removed when the amount of development planned was scaled back.

“The only way Atlantic Yards can become part of a vibrant urban fabric is if the city and developer work to reduce driving to the site,” said Higashide. “Providing hundreds or thousands of extra parking spaces won’t do that.”