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Posts from the "Parking Permits" Category

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Eyes on the Street: Illegal Parking Crackdown Coming to Jay Street

Photo: Eric McClure

Photo: Eric McClure

Reader Eric McClure spotted these flyers today on cars “up and down Jay Street between Johnson and Willoughby,” in the 84th Precinct. This comes a few weeks after attendees at a public workshop identified illegal parking as a major safety hazard and a major source of dysfunction on Jay Street, where pedestrians, cyclists, buses, and private motorists all mix near the Manhattan Bridge approach.

“Looks like the 84 is getting ready to start writing some tickets,” McClure writes. “Big props to [CO] Capt. [Maximo] Tolentino.”

Judging by the flyer, excuses on the dashboard aren’t going to fly.

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Survey: Majority of New Yorkers Would Pay for a Parking Permit

If you own a car in New York City and need a place to park, leaving it on the street is a nice bargain. The only “cost” is alternate-side restrictions for street cleaning — otherwise, all that space is free. It’s such a good deal that in outer-borough neighborhoods, most car owners with an off-street space at home still choose to leave their cars at the curb.

NYC street parking is free, but New Yorkers are willing to pay. Photo: Chris Murphy/Flickr

NYC street parking is free, but most New Yorkers are willing to pay, according to a survey. Photo: Chris Murphy/Flickr

New York is one of the few large American cities without residential parking permits. While the city has not put any price on residential curbside parking, New Yorkers themselves are willing to pay, according to a new survey by researchers at NYU and CUNY. More than half of survey respondents who live outside the Manhattan core said they would be willing to pay for an on-street parking permit, if the city offered them.

Conventional wisdom assumes that attaching a price to curbside parking in New York is political suicide. ”It doesn’t reflect… what people would be willing to pay,” said Simon McDonnell, a policy analyst at City University of New York who co-wrote the paper with NYU professor Zhan Guo. “There had been no quantification of that in New York City.”

“Curb pricing is not a definite no,” Guo said.

The survey, conducted from 2010 to 2011 and released last October, was filled out by 200 respondents in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan above 110th Street offering information about their demographics and transportation routines. It also included this key question:

Many US cities have parking permits that restrict on-street parking to local residents in a neighborhood. As a result, non-residents are only allowed to park for a limited period of time (e.g. two hours) in these permit zones. If New York City offered your household an on-street parking permit for your neighborhood, how much would you be willing to pay for it?

About 53 percent of respondents — who included car owners as well as car-free New Yorkers — said that if the city offered permits, they would be willing to pay, giving an average price of $408 per year. Factoring in the 47 percent who said they wouldn’t shell out any money for a permit, the average amount respondents said they would pay was $215.

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As Car2Go Eyes NYC, Will DOT Put a Price on Curbside Parking?

Many New Yorkers are familiar with car-sharing services — like Zipcar, Hertz Connect, Enterprise CarShare, and Carpingo — that charge by the hour or day, with a reserved space where customers must start and finish a round-trip rental. Daimler-owned Car2Go operates differently: it charges by the minute or hour, and is focused on one-way rentals, allowing users to return a car to any on-street space within the company’s service area. The company, already operating in ten North American markets, is eyeing New York.

A Car2Go vehicle in the UK advertises free parking for customers -- but the company actually pays a significant amount to cities in order to use curb space. Photo: Elliott Brown on Flickr

“In the last few months, Car2Go has met with several New York City community groups, as well as NYC DOT,” Car2Go East Coast business development manager Josh Moskowitz said in an e-mail. Those meetings included a presentation to the transportation committee of Brooklyn Community Board 7, which covers Windsor Terrace and Sunset Park, indicating that the company is looking beyond Manhattan.

While the potential entry of point-to-point car-sharing to New York has implications for transportation behavior (Will it induce more car trips? Will it encourage households to go car-free?), it also raises another important question: How much is a parking spot worth?

When it launched a 200-car fleet in Washington, DC, last year, Car2Go paid the local government $578,000 annually, or $2,890 per car. The payment granted its users unlimited access to all residential permit zones and metered spaces at no direct cost, though the cars are still subject to rush-hour and street-sweeping restrictions. (The District government’s car-share manager at the time was Josh Moskowitz, before Car2Go hired him.)

When the company decided to expand its fleet by 100 vehicles, it paid the DC government an additional $215,300 per year, or $2,153 per car. In Portland, Car2Go pays the city $1,009 per vehicle per year for curbside access.

It’s not just general access to the curb that’s being sold for thousands of dollars each year. Car-share services are also paying cities for specific parking spots. In 2010, the DC government auctioned off 86 curbside parking spaces to car-share companies, fetching an average of $3,485 for each space, according to TBD.com.

Instead of an auction, San Francisco has opted to give car-share services access to hundreds of spaces in exchange for set fees. High-demand areas would command higher prices; as a result, the city expects to earn anywhere from $600 to $2,700 for each space annually. In Los Angeles, the city has entered into an agreement with Hertz in which the company pays at least $1,500 per space each year [PDF].

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NYPD Won’t Touch Upper West Side Block Commandeered by Illegal Parking

Motorists with USPS placards, real and counterfeit, park where they want on W. 83rd Street, where NYPD refuses to enforce parking laws. Photo: Carson Dixon

A frustrated Upper West Side resident is looking to tame the rampant illegal parking and placard abuse on his block.

Carson Dixon says the curbs and sidewalks of W. 83rd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues are lined constantly with illegally parked vehicles, left there by postal workers, firefighters, and employees of a parking garage.

Most of the vehicles parked in the street’s no standing zones belong to employees of the Planetarium Station post office, and display “real and fake” placards, according to Dixon. “The south side of 83rd street was designated as [no standing] by DOT to allow the fire truck to get down the block when the street is backed up,” he wrote in an email to Streetsblog. “The ‘backed up’ part happens a lot because Central Parking, with five exits/entrances on the block, can not and will not manage the car movements out of their garage. The chaos that ensues is unbelievable.”

You can take a stroll on the block via Google Maps to see what Dixon is talking about.

Both sides of this part of 83rd Street are supposedly no-standing zones. Image: Google Maps

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Will Loss of Parking Perk Get Community Board Chairs Out of Their Cars?

Theresa Scavo and her car. Photo: Brooklyn Paper

It’s no secret that NYC community boards are highly protective of on-street parking, since their members seem more likely to be car owners than the population at large, but it was news to us that board chairs and district managers have free parking perks.

The Brooklyn Paper reports that, come February 1, community board chairs will lose the city-issued placards that allow them to park in metered spots for three hours. While you’d think that would spur them to walk, bike, or take transit to get to meetings in their own neighborhoods, CB 15 chair Theresa Scavo says she will spend less time performing civic duties and more time feeding the meter.

“If I park at a meter that only takes an hour’s worth of quarters, I can’t stay at the meetings the whole time,” Scavo said.

Judging from the quotes collected for this story, it’s as if free parking is considered a reward for the onerous burden of community service — even among community board staff, who are paid for their work.

“They’re doing the community a favor,” said Community Board 18 district manager Dorothy Turano. “I’m doing it as part of my obligation, and there’s no question I deserve to have this pass, but so does [Community Board 18 chairman] Sol Needle.”

Turano and other district managers will retain their parking perks.

The sense of entitlement on display here goes a long way toward explaining why many community boards tend to value curbside parking — for automobiles, not bikes — above all else. From street safety projects to Greenmarkets, in some districts no sacrifice is too great when it comes to preserving the privilege of on-street vehicle storage.

If it looks like their volunteer work might compromise the time required to tend to their cars, Scavo and other auto-dependent board chairs should consider surrendering their posts to people who have a more realistic perspective on what it’s like to get around in New York.

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DOT Study Rejects Residential Parking Permits For Stadium Neighborhoods

The Barclays Center, under construction. Photo: Tom Kaminski/WCBS 880

The Department of Transportation has rejected neighborhood demands to implement residential parking permits around the Barclays Center and Yankee Stadium, according to a DOT report released last Friday. DOT cited the availability of on-street parking spaces during Yankee games, the large number of non-residents parking on the street for purposes other than visiting the stadium, and the heavy costs of administering and enforcing an RPP program.

The idea of a residential parking permit system has support from across the city — City Council members representing very different neighborhoods came together in support of the reserving on-street parking for locals in a hearing last year — but the Department of Transportation opposes the idea (the Bloomberg administration, however, did propose a citywide, opt-in RPP system as part of the push for congestion pricing in 2008).

At last year’s hearing, DOT representatives allowed that if residential parking permits belonged anywhere, they belonged around stadiums, and announced that the agency was in the process of studying RPP around Yankee Stadium and the Barclays Center. Now complete, that study has led DOT to believe that parking permits don’t belong there, either [PDF]. Another parking management tool is still on the table: DOT is considering modifying the parking meters near the Barclays Center to charge more or extend later into the evening, according to Norman Oder at Atlantic Yards Report.

At Yankee Stadium, DOT found, game day brings a parking crunch, but not one that the city feels the neighborhood can’t handle. Of those who drive to the park, 90 percent park in off-street lots (of which there are far too many in the area). The 10 percent who opt for on-street spaces cluster within a ten minute walk to the park. The on-street parking occupancy rate in the area rises by 3-14 percent on game days, hitting a high of between 77 and 93 percent.

Moreover, DOT found that Yankee fans wouldn’t be the group most affected by a RPP program. On non-game days, non-residents account for as many as 45 percent of parked cars, even adjusting for false registrations. “Most non-residents who park on-street during games are there for work, shopping, personal errands and so forth,” states the report.

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City Council Signs Off on Residential Parking Permits, Next Stop Albany

The City Council today passed a home rule message backing Albany legislation that would allow the city to implement a residential parking permit program. The vote was 40-8. Charles Barron, Lew Fidler, Peter Vallone, and Al Vann joined four out of the five Republicans on the council in voting against the measure. (Eric Ulrich was the GOP vote in favor.)

RPP is intended to curb traffic by designating street parking for local residents. On Wednesday the council’s State and Federal Legislation Committee passed a home rule resolution supported by council members who say their neighborhoods are being used as parking lots for out-of-area commuters and sports fans.

While support in the City Council is strong, passage of the Albany bills, introduced by Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Member Joan Millman, is not assured. The Bloomberg administration, which introduced its own RPP plan three years ago, has expressed limited interest in the concept. Meanwhile, legislators including Republican senators Marty Golden and Andrew Lanza have said they will work to kill the bill. Even if the legislation clears both houses in Albany, the city would still have to devise and pass a program.

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Council Committee Endorses Residential Parking Permits Over DOT Objections

Then-Council Member David Yassky examines the proposed design for a residential parking permit system put forward by the Bloomberg administration in 2008.

A City Council committee took the first step toward bringing residential parking permits to New York City neighborhoods this afternoon. Details haven’t been worked out yet, but committee members signaled their desire to move forward on a system that would restrict a portion of curbside parking space to use by local residents.

While most council members wanted to see residential parking permits brought to neighborhoods across the city, the Department of Transportation opposed RPP except perhaps in the areas immediately around stadiums.

The action in the City Council today marked an early milestone in what would be a complicated path to passage. The State and Federal Legislation Committee, chaired by Council Member Helen Foster, passed a home rule resolution allowing state legislation sponsored by State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assembly Member Joan Millman to move forward. If passed, the Squadron/Millman bill would then authorize New York City to set up its own RPP program with a few restrictions. The city would still have to work out the details and pass an actual program.

The Bloomberg administration opposed the first step in that process today, testifying against the home rule amendment and the Squadron/Millman bill. While the administration had put forward an RPP system during the push for congestion pricing in 2008, today officials said that a citywide RPP program wouldn’t be worth the trouble if it’s decoupled from road pricing. Council members, meanwhile, expressed high expectations for how RPP might alleviate the traffic and parking woes in their districts.

Foster, the bill’s sponsor, argued that her district needs RPPs are needed in her district, which is just a block from Yankee Stadium. On game days, she said, Yankee fans’ parked cars block residents from finding a parking space in their own neighborhood or even being able to walk safely. Foster said cars can regularly be found on the sidewalk and in front of hydrants during home games. Fans fill up the on-street spaces despite the thousands of empty spaces in the city-subsidized Yankee Stadium parking system. “If I could park on the sidewalk, why would I pay $45 to park in a garage?” asked Foster.

Almost every council member in attendance supported the RPP concept. Parking permits are “a long time coming,” said Stephen Levin, who noted that his Downtown Brooklyn constituents had been clamoring for an RPP program for years. The district has “a real danger with cars driving around looking for a space,” he added. Letitia James, whose district includes the Atlantic Yards site, said that RPPs would ease congestion, protect pedestrians and reduce air pollution. James Vacca, the East Bronx-based transportation committee chair, said that parking permits would encourage the use of mass transit, “which is what we want in this city.” Brad Lander called RPP “the one piece of public policy that can make a difference” on Atlantic Yards traffic.

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NYPD Opposes Bill to Curb Placard Abuse as Total Soars to 118,000

This fake placard for the New York State Numismatic Agency escaped ticketing over seven hours of illegal parking thanks to lax enforcement. NYPD claims, however, that its placards are designed with the appropriate security features. Photo: Kevin Hagen for the Daily News

At a City Council Transportation Committee hearing today, the New York Police Department announced its opposition to legislation that would curb parking placard abuse by requiring barcodes on official placards. NYPD claimed that it has placard abuse under control and that only Police Commissioner Ray Kelly should have the power to determine what tools are used to defend against it. Testimony from NYPD and DOT also revealed that there are currently 118,000 official placards in circulation, tens of thousands more than previously realized.

Putting barcodes on placards would allow traffic enforcement agents to easily and accurately know whether the laminated plastic sitting on a car’s dashboard legitimately grants extra parking privileges. That wouldn’t solve every kind of placard abuse, but it would empower agents to ticket the truly bogus placards.

Council Member Dan Garodnick, the bill’s sponsor, cited yesterday’s experiment by Transportation Alternatives, in which a placard from the “New York State Numismatic Agency,” marked with the official seal of Bulgaria, escaped ticketing during seven hours of illegal parking in Lower Manhattan, Downtown Brooklyn and Times Square, proving that placard enforcement was effectively non-existent. “It’s clearly time for the city to take a bolder step,” said Garodnick.

Council members from across the city understood that allowing placard holders to hoard curb space and escape parking regulations is hurting their neighborhoods. “It seems like New York City has become the Wild West of parking permits,” said Brooklyn’s David Greenfield. Said Queens rep Jimmy Van Bramer, “Others, particularly those who work for a city agency, are held to a different standard.”

The only person who didn’t see the need for action on placard abuse was Susan Petito, the assistant commissioner for intergovernmental affairs at NYPD. While Petito gave lip service to the council’s concern, she ultimately claimed that the NYPD had the problem under control.

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DOT’s Jamaica Plan: Unclog Queens Transit Hub With 1.4 Miles of Bus Lanes

Plans call for doubling the mileage of bus lanes in Jamaica. Image: NYC DOT

We missed these when they were first released in late March, but DOT has come out with its preliminary recommendations for improving bus service in downtown Jamaica [PDF]. The plan calls for adding roughly a mile and a half of new bus lanes and beefing up an equal amount of existing lanes. It would also redesign two intersections and create new pedestrian space.

Anything that helps buses move quickly, smoothly and reliably through downtown Jamaica would be an enormous boon to Queens transit riders. Jamaica is both a subway hub and a job center unto itself, with 47 different bus routes running through the area. Archer Avenue carries more local buses than any other road in New York City, according to the DOT, with a staggering 180 buses per hour in each direction.

Along Archer, the existing bus lanes between 150th and 160th Streets will be visually strengthened, getting a coat of terra cotta paint and new signage. The eastbound lane will be extended on both ends, from Sutphin Avenue to Merrick Boulevard.

Similarly, along Jamaica Avenue the existing lanes (serving 90 buses per hour in each direction) will get the new paint and signage as well as expanded hours of operation and some new turn restrictions. The westbound lanes will be extended from Parsons Boulevard to Sutphin.

New dedicated lanes on Merrick Boulevard and 165th Street will help buses enter and exit the 165th Street bus terminal.

Currently, camera enforcement is not an option for these bus lanes, since the state law which enabled bus cams on Fordham Road and First and Second Avenues only applies to officially designated “Select Bus Service” corridors.

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