David Yassky, center, and Mayor Bloomberg, left, announcing a residential parking plan in 2008. (Photo via flickr user cmyassky)
During the debate over the Ravitch Plan, New York City drivers and their advocates often acting as though free East River Bridges were a constitutional — or at least a God-given — right. How could transit advocates even think of tolling the East River bridges, that bastion of “free” roads? Never mind the tolls on bridges into and out of Staten Island or various points between Manhattan and Queens and the Bronx.
In a similar way, the debate over free on-street parking features much of the same themes. While other cities — Philadelphia, D.C. — have implemented residential parking permit programs, New Yorkers have been loathe to adopt one for dubious grounds. Generally, these programs allow municipalities to charge a rate closer to the market price for convenient parking while filling their coffers for much-needed transit, sidewalk or road improvement projects.
In New York, though, anti-RPPers find interesting and creative ways around the idea. When a program was proposed around three years ago as a way to combat a lack of space, a Brooklyn business association determined that, in Brooklyn Heights, an area saturated with subway lines, there was less than one space for every four registered vehicles. On to the shelf the program went.
Now, though, three New York politicians — Councilman David Yassky, Assembly member Joan Millman and State Senator Daniel Squadron — are at it again. The three Brooklyn Democrats are pushing for another residential parking permit program. This one help fund the MTA while also ensuring drivers a spot close to home. Veronika Belenkaya has more:
If the bill passes, the city and individual neighborhoods would decide whether they want the residential permits, which wouldn’t be allowed on commercial strips and would cover 80% of residential neighborhood streets…
“It’s a real hardship. Anyone who lives here and has a car can’t find parking,” said Brooklyn Heights Association President Judy Stanton.
The current plan, in which the permits would have to be purchased and the revenue would go to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to fund city buses and subways, got a more positive review from the partnership. “If the idea here is to connect drivers and supporting mass transit, that is an interesting approach . . . but the devil is in the details,” said the [Downtown Brooklyn] Partnership’s director, Michael Burke.
While the politicians seem to like this plan for the money it brings in and for the congestion-curing possibilities, the policy wonks don’t agree. Department of Transportation officials feel that an RPP plan can cure congestion only with the help of a congestion fee as well. Without such a plan, we don’t believe this bill will actually solve neighborhood parking problem,” Seth Solomonow, a department spokesman, said.
My only issue with the plan is the projected price point. According to NY1 News, the permits would cost around $50. Considering the true market value of a parking space, the city could charge far more for it. If this plan though can generate more money for the MTA and more money for the city’s transportation coffers, only fear of challenging the free driving mindset will prevent it from becoming a reality.
Update 9:45 a.m.: For a more robust look at Squandron, Millman and Yassky’s efforts than the one presented by the Daily News, browse on over to this Brooklyn Paper article. Mike McLaughlin crunched some numbers from prior reports and notes how, currently, some Brooklyn areas have nearly 700 more cars than spaces.
Any RPP plan also has an added benefit I originally neglected to mention: By requiring permits, the city can make sure that its residents have registered their vehicles in New York City. Right now, due to price discrepancies many short-term New Yorkers keep their registrations active in their native states. It is, as always, all about paying for the resources one uses.