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Posts from the Parking Category

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Eyes on the Street: Cops With Placards Turn Ninth Avenue Into Parking Lot

Well, this is a pretty brazen display of entitlement from the placarded class.

Parking watchdog @placardabuse tweeted these photos of private vehicles parked in a turn lane on Ninth Avenue at 34th Street, creating a left-hook hazard for people riding in the bike lane.

At least one of the cars has a Midtown South/14th Precinct placard. The station house is just up the block, at Ninth Avenue and 35th Street.

Parking placards don’t confer the legal right to store your car in a turning lane, but for all intents and purposes that’s how they function, since enforcement agents are loathe to ticket vehicles with placards. Making matters worse, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has scaled back NYPD’s internal monitoring and enforcement of placard abuse.

The officer who answered the phone at the precinct did not know there were staff vehicles parked on Ninth Avenue. “We’ll look into it,” she said.

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Americans Can’t Afford the High Cost of Parking Requirements

Prices for garaged parking space construction. Graph: Access

Americans are paying off the cost of parking construction whether they can afford it or not. Chart: Access Magazine

Building a single parking spot can easily cost more than many Americans’ life savings. In the latest issue of Access Magazine, retired UCLA economist Donald Shoup brings this point home to illustrate the huge financial burden imposed by minimum parking requirements, especially for poor households.

The average construction cost of structured parking, across 12 American cities, is $24,000 for an above-ground space and $34,000 for an underground space. (Surface parking spaces are cheaper, but keep in mind those prices don’t include the cost of purchasing land.) Those costs get bundled into the price of everything, driving up the cost of living even for people who don’t own cars.

The burden of parking requirements, which mandate the construction of parking spaces that otherwise wouldn’t be built, is most acute for people of color.

In 2011, the average net worth of Hispanic households was $7,700 and of black households was $6,300, Shoup notes. Thanks to parking requirements, households without much savings — many of whom have more debt than assets — must contend not only with the cost of parking construction, but the cost of car ownership as well, writes Shoup:

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Adding Curb Space for Cars vs. Space for Bikes — DOT’s Double Standard

Whenever curb space is reallocated for bike parking in New York City, the process is intensive. Getting NYC DOT to install a bike corral usually involves lots of signature gathering, and even when a business wants one by their storefront, the local community board can shoot it down. The process can take months or even years, if it ever succeeds at all.

But if DOT decides to add curbside car parking, they often do it without a second thought — or any public notice. Case in point: DOT has added curbside parking at two locations in Park Slope, taking away a loading zone on one street and hindering visibility on another. Neither change was brought to the local community board prior to implementation.

In October 2013, when this Google Street View photo was taken, there was roughly 15 yards of open curb on the northern corner of Baltic Street at Fifth Avenue. Approaching drivers and pedestrians could get a clear view of each other. But as of September 2014, DOT had removed a “No Standing” sign there. Now motorists may park to the edge of the west crosswalk. This makes it harder for drivers on Baltic, which is one-way eastbound, to see pedestrians as they approach Fifth. Likewise, people in the crosswalks can’t see approaching vehicles as well as before.

From 2009 to 2014, two pedestrians and five cyclists were injured in crashes where Baltic meets Fifth Avenue and Park Place, according to city crash data. Three motor vehicle occupants were also hurt there during that time frame — a sign of collisions occurring at high speeds. Another person was injured at the intersection in 2009, but city data does not indicate whether the victim was walking, riding a bike, or in a car.

New York City allows motorists to park to the edge of crosswalks, but as Streetsblog has reported, the National Association of City Transportation Officials recommends 20 to 25 feet of clearance around crosswalks to improve sight lines. Pedestrian deaths and injuries caused by turning drivers are frequent, and a bill pending in the City Council would require DOT to daylight 25 intersections per year. In other municipalities, it is simply illegal to park right up against a crosswalk.

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Concerned About Illegal Parking? Stuff It, Says P.C. Richard & Son

Here’s one company doing business in NYC that doesn’t want to hear about fleet safety.

When Jeremy M. Posner tweeted P.C. Richard and Son about a double-parked delivery truck in front of a store on E. 86th Street, despite an available loading zone a few yards away, the company’s customer service department replied that it “isn’t ideal” to cart appliances “down the block.”

It wasn’t the first time Posner posted photos of a P.C. Richard truck blocking the street. In addition to making the street less safe for biking and walking, Posner says the trucks impede the M86.

“Keep in mind that they are double parked next to a loading zone, rather than in the loading zone,” he tweeted. “Every day.”

It could be that P.C. Richard benefits from the city’s Stipulated Fine program, which lets companies off the hook for parking violations. We asked, but either way, if the city is going to continue offering this program, the least it can do is require participating companies to complete Vision Zero surveys.

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Who Rules the Roost on Jay Street? Placard Abusers, That’s Who

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Most of Jay Street is a “no standing zone” where placard holders both real and fake park without consequence. Photo: David Meyer

Jay Street in downtown Brooklyn is one of the most important segments in the city’s bike network, the key passage to and from the Manhattan Bridge. It’s also a huge impediment to biking in the city — the street is rife with double-parking, illegal U-turns, and the unnerving threat of a car door suddenly opening and throwing you into the path of a passing bus. An upcoming redesign of Jay Street should improve the situation, but it too will be hampered by the culture of parking placard abuse that pervades downtown Brooklyn streets.

The chaos on Jay Street emanates from placard holders and fake placard holders who park all over the place. Even legit placards aren’t a valid license to park in bus stops or crosswalks, but NYPD doesn’t enforce the rules. Soon after the 84th Precinct cracked down on Jay Street placard abuse in 2014, the commanding officer was reassigned.

Advocates campaigned long and hard to get the city to redesign Jay Street, and this summer, DOT plans to flip the bike lane with the parking lane to provide some physical protection. It should be a less stressful experience, but there’s a catch: The proposed bike lane is a sub-standard width on a street that typically already sees 2,400 cyclists in the peak 12-hour period. The National Association of City Transportation Officials advises that protected lanes should be at least five feet wide with a three-foot buffer from parked cars to keep cyclists clear of the door zone, but the Jay Street design calls for five-foot lanes with two-foot buffers.

The bike lane could be wider if it weren’t for all the placard parking on Jay Street. Take out the parking, and there’s a lot more room to work with. If the city was willing to make placard holders park a little further from their destinations — like in one of the many nearby garages with a glut of parking, thanks to downtown Brooklyn’s parking requirements — the options for good street design open up.

So who is parking on Jay Street? Whose entitlement to convenient personal parking trumps street safety and good bus service for everyone? I made a few trips in the past week to document the placard abuse up close.

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Parking Madness: Federal Way vs. Montreal

We’re just getting started with Parking Madness 2016 — our annual hunt for North America’s worst parking craters. So far, Washington, D.C., and Rutland, Vermont, have advanced to the second round.

Today’s matchup pits the Seattle suburb of Federal Way against the pride of Quebec — Montreal. It’s the second Canadian parking crater in this year’s competition, reminding us that the United States doesn’t hold a monopoly on hideous parking scars.

Federal Way

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Federal Way is a city of 92,000 located along the highway between Seattle and Tacoma. An anonymous reader sent this satellite image with orange outlines denoting surface parking. The red outline marks the Federal Way Transit Center, a hub for buses bound for Seattle and Tacoma. A 7.8-mile light rail extension from Seattle is slated to serve this area, which is barely more than a collection of surface parking lots.

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Parking Requirements Will Be Reduced in a Huge Chunk of NYC

Council-Modifications-of-Transit-Zone

In the orange areas, parking requirements will no longer apply to subsidized housing and senior housing. Map via City Council. Click to enlarge.

The de Blasio administration and the City Council released more details of their agreed-upon housing plan this afternoon, including a map showing where parking requirements will be reduced. For the most part, it’s very good news: Parking requirements will be eliminated for subsidized housing and senior housing in 90 percent of the area originally proposed by City Hall.

The so-called “transit zone,” the area in line for lower parking requirements, shrank in a handful of neighborhoods concentrated in southern Brooklyn, central Queens, and the east Bronx. For the most part, though, the map approved by two City Council committees today keeps City Hall’s parking reforms intact.

In a huge area of the city (the part well-served by the subway, roughly speaking), building subsidized housing and senior housing will no longer be weighed down by mandates that required the construction of car storage — much of which went unused. The new rules also enable construction on existing parking lots on subsidized housing sites, as long as the new housing is also below market-rate. Basically, building shelter for people is going to get easier because New York stopped insisting on requiring so much shelter for cars.

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It’s Washington vs. Burlington in the Parking Madness 2016 Tip Off!

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Welcome to Parking Madness, Streetsblog’s annual Sweet 16 tournament of parking craters. What’s a parking crater? Simply put, it’s a depression in the cityscape, a void where car storage has usurped land that should be devoted to buildings.

This is the fourth year Streetsblog readers have submitted more than enough entries to field a 16-crater bracket. Thanks to everyone who nominated a crater — if we could accept them all we would, but there are just too many downtown parking scars to put them all in the competition.

Entries advance through the tournament by beating other parking craters in a reader vote. Today’s match-up is practically ripped from the headlines: Burlington, Vermont, where Bernie Sanders served as mayor in the 1980s, goes up against Washington and the parking crater at the epicenter of the American political establishment.

First up: Burlington.

Here’s an overhead shot of the area where Main Street meets South Winooski Avenue.

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Brendan Hogan submitted this entry. He writes:

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Mark-Viverito’s East Harlem Plan Recommends Tossing Parking Minimums

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito greets constituents in her East Harlem district, which is slated for upzoning as part of the mayor's plan to increase the city's affordable housing stock. Image: William Alatriste

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito greets constituents in her East Harlem district, which is slated for upzoning as part of the mayor’s plan to increase the city’s affordable housing stock. Photo: William Alatriste

Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito has released an “East Harlem Neighborhood Plan” to guide the city’s rezoning of the community, and one of the recommendations is the elimination of parking minimums.

The 138-page plan [PDF] was developed over the past 10 months as a joint project of Mark-Viverito, Community Board 11, Borough President Gale Brewer, and the grassroots social justice group Community Voices Heard. Among its recommendations, the plan calls for “increased density in select places to create more affordable housing and spaces for jobs” and that “any potential rezoning should eliminate minimum parking requirements.”

The parking minimum recommendation is unequivocal and would apply to all housing, not just subsidized housing like the de Blasio administration’s citywide “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” plan. ZQA only eliminates minimum parking requirements for affordable and senior housing development within the so-called “transit zone” — areas that are, generally speaking, a short walk from high-capacity transit.

Mark-Viverito hasn’t taken a position on the parking reforms in ZQA, and her office declined multiple inquiries from Streetsblog on the topic. The City Council is fractured on the issue, but the East Harlem plan indicates that the speaker supports the idea that mandatory car storage is less important than maximizing housing options.

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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.”

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