A home rule resolution in support of residential parking permits was approved by the full City Council last Thursday – an action needed to push forward a bill, which was introduced by State Senator Daniel Squadron and Assemblywoman Joan Millman, requesting that New York State move forward with authorizing residential parking permits in the city.
The support comes after a hearing on Wednesday by the Council’s Committee on State and Federal Legislation, in which all but one committee member voted in support of the permits, after hearing input from residents, particularly those who live in Downtown Brooklyn near to the upcoming Barclay’s Center, as well as residents that live near Yankee Stadium.
Many say that RPP is the right step to take for bustling neighborhoods such as Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Park Slope and Prospect Heights, where residents struggle to find parking.
And proponents say that when the Barclay’s Center opens next fall, even more cars will be circling the congested neighborhoods looking for parking, taking spots and even creating air pollution.
“Residential parking permits have been desperately needed in many of our communities for a long time and increased development, especially the Atlantic Yards project, will only bring in more congestion to these neighborhoods,” said Councilman Stephen Levin, a sponsor of the resolution. “I hope that the New York State Legislature will finally recognize that RPP is essential to the well-being of Downtown Brooklyn residents.”
While much of the focus has been on permit programs for streets surrounding arenas and stadiums, Levin also believes that residential permit parking must also be implemented for neighborhoods that face the problem of “park and ride” commuters.
According to Levin, areas of Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn lose up to 40 percent of their parking spots each day to drivers who park in the neighborhood and take the train into Manhattan.
“I often have to drive around for 30 minutes to find a spot,” said Park Slope resident Joanna Oltman Smith. “Ridiculous. And that is pre-stadium. I grew up in a town that had parking permits, and they’re very effective.”
She was raised in Berkeley, California, where there are 14 RPP areas, limited to two-hour parking unless a residential parking permit or a visitor permit is properly displayed on or in the vehicle. The annual residential permit there costs $34.50.
Now that the council has voted in support of RPP’s, the legislation will be considered in Albany next year and if passed, it will come back to the city and be implemented by the City Council and the Department of Transportation on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis.
Communities would be able to opt into the RPP program but, according to Squadron’s office, public hearings would be required before implementation of RPP in a neighborhood.
The fee could be anywhere up to $100 per year, and according to Squadron, the permits would directly fund the upgrading and improvement of city subways and buses.
The RPP would affect residential streets and at least 20 percent of the available spots would be open for non-permit parking.
Streets zoned for commercial and retail uses, as well as metered spaces, will be exempt from the residential parking permit program.
According to Squadron, Western Queens has also expressed interest in receiving residential parking permits. Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer is also a sponsor of the resolution.
Yet, others remain opposed to an RPP system. Opponents say the parking permits will only create a tax for something that was always free.
Councilman Lewis Fidler, who represents Sheepshead Bay, cast the lone dissenting vote on Wednesday against moving the legislation to the full City Council, stating that New Yorkers would have a new fee to pay if implemented everywhere and that RPP’s are “the wrong way to go.”