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City Council Moves Forward on Residential Parking Permits

Atlantic Yards-area proponents say plan is needed to prevent onslaught of game-day drivers, while others argue it's just another new tax.

Residential Parking Permits are one step closer to coming to Brooklyn and across the city after a city council committee voted 6-1 to move legislation on the topic to the full council for a vote.

The plan, which needs to be approved in Albany, would allow the city council along with community boards and the Department of Transportation to implement permits in neighborhoods that request them.

About a hundred people crowded into a city council hearing room yesterday morning to have their say on the issue.

Most speakers were for the permits, saying they are badly needed, not only by residents bracing for the flood of cars expected to arrive when the , but also by the area surrounding Yankee stadium, where fans routinely park on sidewalks and in front of hydrants, as well as neighborhoods across the city that commuters drive to in order to park and catch the train.

“I have to get up early in the morning—6 a.m. to find a parking space before the onslaught comes,” said Theresa Fisher of Fort Greene.

“Sometimes I get home from work and I have to wait two hours to get a parking spot,” said a woman from Prospect Heights who lives on Dean Street a block from the construction. “This is going to get worse and worse. There’s going to be noise, air pollution. I have 21-month-old twins. This is going to be ridiculous.”

But others said parking permits would be just another tax instituted by the city, that the “park and ride” problem would just move to the next neighborhood over, and that permits would make it difficult for people to drive to visit friends or run errands in other parts of their borough.

"This is the wrong way to go” said Councilman Lewis Fidler of Sheepshead Bay who cast the dissenting vote. “New Yorkers will have a new fee to pay everywhere in every part of this city.”

“I’m afraid of this slippery slope,” agreed Kim Brandon of Prospect Heights. I know we need to do something … I just think that the long-term residents and seniors that still own property in that community are so heavily taxed.”

The legislation is sponsored by State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Joan Millman, who represent neighborhoods around Atlantic Yards as well as downtown Brooklyn and Brooklyn Heights, where commuters routinely park.

Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents Prospect Heights, Fort Greene and Bed-Stuy, said despite the arena's location on top of a transit hub, an estimated 5,600 cars will be driven to an average event, and, with only an 1,100-spot surface lot planned, most of those cars will troll the neighborhood looking for parking, not only taking up sports, but creating traffic and air pollution problems as well. 

“We want to make sure that we are not completely overrun, that our children are not killed trying to cross the street and that we can breathe,” said community activist Jo Anne Simon, who lives in Boerum Hill.

Councilman Brad Lander who represents Park Slope and Cobble Hill said the city can all they want, but such measures won't help.

“It isn’t going to make an iota difference. The only thing that will be effective is a residential parking program on game night,” he said.

The Bloomberg administration opposes the current legislation, with David Woloch a deputy commissioner at the Department of Transportation arguing at the hearing that the plan would be costly to enforce and would inconvenience people who visit friends or work in residential neighborhoods as well as residents who use rental or zip cars.

He also said the permits wouldn’t guarantee that residents would find parking, an argument that failed to phase proponents of the plan.

“My neighbors are … not even thinking that this will guarantee them a parking spot,” responded Howard Kolins, President of the Boerum Hill Association. “It will hopefully limit the cross traffic in the neighborhood. We look at residential parking permits as one more arrow in the quiver that might mitigate some of those things.”

The City Council and Department of Transportation would work out the details of the plan, including the price, which Squadron told CBSNews.com would be similar to other cities, which charge between $20 and $100 per year.

Not all of the spots in neighborhoods that adopt the permits would be held for residents—20 percent of the spaces would be open to nonresidents for short-term parking and commercial strips would not be affected at all. Business owners who live elsewhere would not be eligible for the permits.

Revenues from the permits would be given to New York City Transit to improve subway and bus service. Money from fines would go to the New York City general fund. 

The full City Council is expected to vote on the permits this afternoon. After that, Squadron and Millman's bill will be considered in Albany. If passed, the City Council and Department of Transportation would determine how to implement the permits.

But all these steps take time. Time, that residents living near Atlantic Yards say they don't have. 

"Only 10 months remain before the planned opening of Barclays Center," said Gib Veconi treasurer of the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council. "Time is running short."

Denis Hurley November 03, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Calling it a "tax" on people who own cars doesn't dissuade me. Space is limited in the city. People who own cars should have to pay for the space they use. I wonder if this would also give residents more power to change our silly ASP rules.
Joe Gonzalez November 03, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Any discussion of residential parking permits MUST include a public discussion as to why is it that local Houses of Worship (HOW) have posted traffic signs that permanently ban parking in front of these buildings 24/7. removing this unfair perk would free up hundreds of parkings spaces. One might argue for a limited parking ban during Sabbath Day Services but even that is a reach because most HOW attendees reside within walking distance of the HOW. One outrageous example of this is on the north side of Lafayette Avenue between Washington Ave and St. James Place which has posted traffic signs that ban parking there 24/7. Why is this?
William Harris November 03, 2011 at 09:27 PM
Agree with Joe...do the numbers and it makes no sense for HOW to claim street space, except perhaps on days of services. Brooklyn is known as "the borough of churches"... thousands of parking spaces are taken from the public. These HOW rules must be changed.
jill November 04, 2011 at 01:30 AM
I live in Boro Park on a dr's row by the hospital so never have parking and would welcome a resident only parking permit. But with the permits, it basically says people who do not live in the neighborhood are not allowed to visit the neighborhood by car. This annoys me when I drive to Prospect Park that there really is no parking for an event and the permits would make less parking. One way parking spots could be created would be if DOT stopped expanding the crosswalks everytime they paint the streets. In the last year, the crosswalks have increased by more than 3 ft in my neighborhood. That 7 ft is a car space. They only need to be as wide as the curb cut as I live in a residential neighborhood --not next to Macy's on 34th St. Another way parking could be improved could be tickets for people who are 2 feet away from the next car front and back when parked on the street. Down south, they outline the parking spots. Since NYers are so selfish, maybe it should be done here. People in my neighborhood are still getting driveway permits. STOP it. What you buy is what you get. No driveway already, tough. You bought the permit within the last 5 yrs, take it away. Last suggestion, if you are building an apt building/coop/condo/multi-family housing, it needs to include parking for all residents. Not 100 spaces for 500 tenants or even 1 spot for 4 tenants.
Tom H December 27, 2011 at 12:33 PM
To jill: The logic in your comments tends to evade me. You say you would welcome parking permits, but then argue they would reduce parking for your visitors and Prospect Park events. I don't know what you drive, but there are very few vehicles that are only 7 feet long. The marking of parking spaces is very nice so that drivers don't take up excessive space, but for large cities, the long-term maintenance is very labor-intensive and epensive. Does the NYC street department have that luxury in its budget? I have lived in cities where commercial properties were required to have a minimum number of parking spaces for apartments, offices, and other businesses such as stores and restaurants. Of course, the developers complained because it reduced the number of apartments and offices, or the number/size of the stores they could build. Often, the city ordinances don't specify the sizes of the required parking spaces, so the developers just painted the lines closer together. For a standard-sized car, that just resulted in people parking over the lines and an overall reduction in the number of useable spaces. It also resulted in a great increase in the number of "door dings" and repair bills. Why are you opposed to driveway permits? If someone parks in their driveway, it takes their car off the street and provides you with another potential parking space.

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