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Posts from the Parking Category


After $11M in Repairs, Is Borough Hall Plaza a Plaza, or a Parking Lot?

This year, contractors hired by the Parks Department got to work replacing the bluestone in the plaza outside Brooklyn Borough Hall, which was busted up due in part to people — including former borough president Marty Markowitz — parking cars on it.

The $11 million project isn’t finished, but someone has already started using the new granite pavers for parking again.

“Before we know it, Borough Hall Plaza will once again be the community common space we have long come to love and treasure,” Borough President Eric Adams told the Brooklyn Eagle in April. And nothing says “community space” like personal auto storage.

The granite may hold up better than the bluestone, but is Borough Hall Plaza a plaza, or a parking lot?

We have a request in with Adams’ office about whether he intends to allow the plaza to be used for parking after the city spent millions to repair it.


Queens Community Board Chairs Care About Parking More Than Housing

Give it up for Queens community board chairs. Thanks to a vote last night, we now have a crystal clear expression of their priorities. Nothing is more important than parking.

In a city without enough housing to go around, where rising rents are squeezing people in more neighborhoods every year, the community board chairs have taken a bold stand: Parking must come first, before all of this affordable housing nonsense.

City Hall’s big affordable housing plan, which broadly speaking lets developers build more housing while compelling them to set aside some units for people earning below a certain threshold, got a vote from the Queens Borough Board on Monday. (The borough board is composed of the chairs of all the borough’s community boards.) The plan went down in a 12-2 vote, which thankfully is only advisory in nature.

One piece of the plan is the reduction of mandatory parking minimums for subsidized housing near transit. This is the provision that the community board chairs could not stomach, reports Politico’s Sally Goldenberg:

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Streetsblog USA
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Cartoon Donald Shoup Explains How Planning for Cars Ruins Cities

This is a pretty great animation explaining how American cities were undermined by a slavish dedication to storing and moving cars. It’s by comedian Adam Conover from TruTV’s “Adam Ruins Everything,” who also made this great video explaining the screwed up origin of the word “jaywalking.”

The best part may be the animated version of parking guru Donald Shoup, author of “The High Cost of Free Parking.”

Television comedians preaching urbanism? We hope this is part of a trend.


NYC Housing Policy Too Important to Be Written By Free Parking Addicts

Earlier this week the Department of City Planning presented its housing affordability plan to the Queens Borough Board, where representatives of community boards throughout the borough kvetched about — you guessed it — parking.

One of the best things about DCP’s Housing New York plan is that it would bring an end to parking requirements for subsidized housing near subways. This would cut down on construction costs and free up resources to house people instead of cars. It’s not full-on reform of parking requirements, since market-rate residences would still be forced to come with a certain number of parking spots. This allows DCP to point out that very, very few people who live in subsidized housing near transit own cars anyway, which could conceivably help win over people who worry about competition for free on-street parking spots.

Naturally, community board types are still having none of it. They’re fixated on one thing, and it’s not housing affordability. What they want are guarantees that parking for free on the street will not become any more inconvenient, according to the scene painted by the Queens Chronicle:

“I’m a senior citizen. If you take away my car, you take away my life,” Community Board 6 Chairman Joseph Hennessy told DCP representatives Eric Kober and Laura Smith. “You’re thinking Manhattan. This is Queens.”

“This is Queens. We can’t get around here on public transportation, that’s why all us old guys have cars to go to the doctor or go somewhere,” [community board 5 chair Vincent] Arcuri said. “So when you’re saying that seniors don’t need cars or don’t have them… in Queens, it’s our lifeline.”

Okay, so these people aren’t convinced by the housing affordability argument, and they don’t believe or don’t care about the data that says a ton of parking in subsidized housing goes unused. How about an angle they can relate to: Parking requirements make life more miserable, not less, for existing car owners.

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Con Ed Staff Caught Illegally Parking on Sidewalk By Queensboro Bridge


Chris Martin walks around illegally parked cars belonging to Con Ed workers on the way to his job at a TV shoot for Blue Bloods. Photo: Cristina Furlong

Cars belonging to Con Edison employees assigned to a project on the Queensboro Bridge are squeezing pedestrians into the roadbed as workers illegally park on the sidewalk. On both the east and west sides of Vernon Boulevard at Queens Plaza South, near Queensbridge Park and Queensbridge Houses, sidewalks are being used as private parking for bridge workers. When confronted, Con Ed said it will tell employees to stop parking on the sidewalk.

Yesterday morning, people were stepping off the sidewalk on their way to work. “This is ridiculous, people should feel safer here,” said Chris Martin, 24, as he walked in the road to his job on a film shoot in Queensbridge Park.

This placard

This placard does not actually confer the right to park on the sidewalk. Photo: Cristina Furlong

“I feel that it’s very unsafe here, the streets are busy and people run red lights,” said Frankie Cane, 28, who works south of the bridge at Plant Specialists. “Every day, I walk this strip to get lunch… and it just isn’t safe.”

Con Ed workers have been placing their orange safety vests on the dashboards of their cars, and according to neighbors, no ticketing has occurred. The area is under the patrol of the 108th Precinct. Calls to the precinct were referred to its community affairs division, which did not respond.

One car displayed a DOT placard. The agency confirmed via email that all the sidewalk parking, including by its staff, is illegal, since “stipulations do not allow for parking on sidewalks and city highway rules dictate DOT construction permits do not allow permit parking for private vehicles.”

Con Edison replied in a statement: “We’ve been doing repair work on transmission cables under the bridge and will inform our employees not to park on the sidewalk areas. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

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Streetsblog USA
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Arkansas Town Breaks Ground By Eliminating Commercial Parking Minimums

In an effort to boost development downtown, leaders in Fayetteville, Arkansas (population ~80,000), last week eliminated minimum parking requirements for commercial properties citywide.

Fayetteville, Arkansas, leaders saw eliminating parking minimums as a way to encourage development. Photo: Wikipedia

Fayetteville leaders saw eliminating parking minimums as a way to encourage development. Photo: Wikipedia

Leading the push were planning commissioners like Tracy Hoskins, whom the Fayetteville Flyer described as a “longtime businessman and developer.” Hoskins argued, persuasively, that businesses are capable of deciding for themselves how many parking spaces to build and don’t need laws that require “day-after-Thanksgiving-sized lots.”

“I’ve always thought it was crazy to have minimum parking standards,” he told the Flyer. “Let the people that own, operate, and invest in those businesses determine what they need.”

Big parts of the downtown area are suffering from disinvestment, and the reforms were framed as a way to improve economic prospects. Another commissioner, Matt Hoffman, promoted it as a way to eliminate an unnecessary level of regulation and create a pro-business climate in the city.

The city’s requirements, for example, required one space per employee at daycare centers and two spaces per chair at a barber shop. Although the city’s attorney raised some concerns, commissioners held firm. And the decision doesn’t seem to be stirring up a backlash. Commenters at the Fayetteville Flyer were generally supportive.

Many U.S. cities have reformed parking rules in limited areas (Chicago recently loosened residential parking requirementso) in order to improve walkability and reduce construction costs.

Still, Fayetteville appears to be blazing a trail here. Parking policy guru Donald Shoup, author of the High Cost of Free Parking, said he believes Fayetteville is the first U.S. city to eliminate commercial minimum parking requirements citywide.

According to Shoup, Buffalo, New York, is considering a similar proposal, so this could be the start of something big.


34th Precinct Cracks Down on Drivers Double-Parked in Inwood Bike Lanes

A 34th Precinct officer cites a driver blocking a bike lane on Sherman Avenue in Inwood. Photo: 34th Precinct/Facebook

A 34th Precinct officer cites a driver blocking a bike lane on Sherman Avenue in Inwood. Photo: 34th Precinct/Facebook

When DOT installed new bike lanes on Sherman Avenue in Inwood a few weeks back, it didn’t take long before they were blocked by double-parked drivers.

Sherman is one of many Inwood streets that effectively has four parking lanes. This isn’t good for anyone, as it makes it dangerous to walk and bike, and creates aggravation for drivers — which, in turn, makes it dangerous to walk and bike.

Responding to residents’ complaints, on Friday the 34th Precinct announced a double-parking crackdown. Deputy Inspector Chris Morello, the precinct’s commanding officer, posted photos of officers issuing tickets on Facebook.

Well, you asked for it, and you got it: we had a double parking initiative yesterday in the 34 Pct. Summonses were issued for double parking (particularly in bike lanes) on Broadway, Sherman, Dyckman and Post (these are our most congested and dangerous roadways).

In the past month, we have issued 632 double parking summonses, up 10% from last year. And we have issued a total of 7,711 parking summonses this year. This is all done in an effort to keep traffic moving and keep our residents safe.

Hats off to Deputy Inspector Morello and precinct officers for taking on what is mainly a symptom of dysfunctional curb management. Now if DOT would help out by swapping private car parking for commercial loading zones, traffic would flow more smoothly and Inwood streets would be safer.


This Map Shows Where de Blasio Wants to Reduce Parking Mandates

Parking requirements for affordable and senior housing have already been eliminated in the dark grey areas. Under the mayor's plan, they would also be eliminated in a new "transit zone," shown in purple. Map: DCP [PDF]

Under the mayor’s plan, parking requirements would be eliminated for subsidized housing in a new “transit zone,” shown in purple. Map: DCP [PDF]

In February, the Department of City Planning outlined the broad strokes of how the de Blasio administration will seek to change the rules that shape new development in New York. After eight months of public meetings and behind-the-scenes work, City Hall’s proposals were released this week. The documents reveal details of how the city wants to handle parking minimums in new residential buildings, and it looks like incremental progress, not a major breakthrough, for parking reform.

Mandatory parking minimums, which require the construction of a certain amount of car storage in new buildings, have been in the zoning code since 1961. Multiple studies have shown that they drive up the cost of housing and increase traffic. The de Blasio administration is proposing to reduce parking requirements near transit, but primarily for subsidized housing, not the market-rate construction the city expects to account for most new development.

Perhaps the biggest change in the plan, called Zoning for Quality and Affordability, is the creation of a “transit zone” covering most land that allows new multi-family housing within a half-mile of a subway line.

Within the transit zone, off-street parking would not be required for new public housing, senior housing, or apartments reserved for people earning below a certain income. Buildings that include a mix of market-rate and subsidized housing could apply for a special permit to reduce or eliminate parking requirements on a case-by-case basis [PDF].

Existing parking could also be removed: Senior housing will be allowed to take out parking without needing any approvals, but other types of affordable housing would require a special permit to get rid of existing parking.

There are plenty of holes in the transit zone. Most of Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights has long been excluded from the map, despite access to the N and R trains. An earlier map included much of the Rockaways, which was later dropped, and sections of Eastchester in the Bronx were also dropped. In Queens, large sections of Woodhaven and Ozone Park are excluded from the transit zone, despite being adjacent to the A and J trains, because zoning in that area is slightly less dense than nearby sections of Brooklyn.

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Bill Bratton Rolls Back Internal NYPD Parking Reform

On Monday the Times published an in-depth piece on how Police Commissioner Bill Bratton is aiming to boost NYPD morale, in part by giving officers more latitude to skirt departmental rules. The Times said such infractions might include “misplacing a memo book or being late for court.”

According to the story, Bratton is also lightening up on illegal parking.

[O]n day-to-day internal disciplinary issues, Mr. Bratton is seeking to alter departmental culture: He disbanded a so-called tow-away squad that had been giving tickets to and towing department cars on official business but parked improperly.

Former mayor Michael Bloomberg instituted a number of reforms intended to cut down on illegal parking by city employees. In 2008, City Hall reduced the number of city-issued parking placards. At the same time NYPD cracked down on police parking scofflaws, both those on “official business” and those using their placards as a lifelong entitlement for their personal vehicles.

When Ray Kelly was police commissioner, cops criticized the Internal Affairs Bureau tow unit, saying it interfered with police work. It’s unknown how many tickets and tows the squad was responsible for, but a 2010 Daily News story pegged Internal Affairs’ daily quota at four tows and 20 summonses.

Cops and other government employees who ignore parking rules clog streets, hurt businesses, and block sidewalks and bike lanes. The problem is particularly acute in Lower Manhattan, where space is especially scarce. In 2006, Transportation Alternatives found that just 12 percent of cars with placards in the southern section of Chinatown were parked legally [PDF]. That same year a survey conducted for an NYPD environmental impact statement counted more than 1,100 illegally parked cars with placards near One Police Plaza [PDF].

How much has NYPD been enforcing police placard abuse, and to what extent did the tow squad contribute to that? We’ve asked NYPD for data and are waiting for a response.

Without the numbers, it’s not clear how dissolving the tow unit will affect NYPD’s internal efforts to curb placard abuse. But once the city starts backsliding, the placard enforcement gains of the past seven years could easily slip away.


CB 12: Proposed Building on Top of 1 Train Is Too Big, Needs More Parking

X marks the spot of the 1 train entrance below a proposed apartment building on Broadway in Washington Heights, which CB 12 says needs more than 50 parking spots. Image via DNAinfo

X marks the spot of the 1 train entrance under a proposed apartment building that CB 12 says needs more than 50 parking spaces. Image via DNAinfo

Community Board 12 members voted against a proposal for a new apartment building in Washington Heights, to be built on top of the 1 train, in part because they want the developers to build more parking, according to DNAinfo coverage of the Wednesday meeting.

HAP Investment Developers wants to build a 16-story, 241-unit residential building at 4452 Broadway, with 50 parking spots to be accessed through a garage entrance on Fairview Avenue. Most residential buildings in Washington Heights and Inwood top out at six to eight stories, and the company needs a zoning variance to allow for additional height.

From DNAinfo:

Members of the Land Use committee voted unanimously to oppose HAP’s request for the zoning changes, citing the height of the building, the lack of parking and the potential impact on the character of the neighborhood.

The building would sit on top of the Broadway entrance to the 191st Street 1 train station, and would be served by several bus routes. It’s apparently lost on CB 12 members that the board serves an area where parking is not a concern for most people, given that only 25 percent of households own cars.

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