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Legislation would reserve street parking for residents


  • The City Council is considering legislation that would reserve up to 80 percent of parking on residential streets for drivers who live nearby. Photo: Stephen Strasser

Most parking spots on residential blocks could soon be set aside for drivers who live in the surrounding neighborhood.

The City Council is considering two bills that would require the Department of Transportation to reserve curb parking for residents via a new permit system. One bill would apply citywide; the other, sponsored by Manhattan Council Members Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal and Keith Powers, would include all of Manhattan north of 60th Street.

Rosenthal said the bill she sponsored would allow the city to begin addressing potential parking issues that could arise in her Upper West Side district if the state implements a congestion pricing policy, which would impose a fee on vehicles entering a designated zone in central Manhattan. Some fear the areas just outside the congestion zone — which according to one proposal would begin at 60th Street and extend to the island’s southern tip — would become attractive to non-resident drivers seeking to park and transfer to the subway to travel into the fee zone.

“Given that we don’t yet know the details of congestion pricing, the importance of introducing this bill is that we can now begin the public discussion of what residential parking should look like,” Rosenthal said.

It is unclear whether Albany lawmakers will move to enact a congestion pricing plan before the current legislative session ends in June.

“Congestion pricing has not passed — it may never pass — but if it does, we want to be able to have input on how residential parking will work along the border areas,” said Powers, whose Council district straddles the potential congestion zone boundary of 60th Street, stretching across much of the East Side from Stuyvesant Town to Carnegie Hill.

The legislation would not apply to commercial streets and metered spaces, and would require at least 20 percent of spaces in residential permit zones to be made available to non-residents.

“When I hear from people who street park, they think permitted parking will make life easier for them,” Rosenthal said. “Secondly, because 80 percent of spots will be reserved for those with residential permits, people from other areas will get the message: take public transportation, there’s not parking. Because ultimately the goal is to reduce congestion on the streets.”

The bills are broadly written and give the Department of Transportation latitude in determining the times and specific areas in which residential permits would be required, as well as the fees for permits. The DOT would be required to take input from local community boards and elected officials, according to Rosenthal. “This opens the door for public comment so we can hear from our communities what they think about residential parking,” she said.

Rosenthal proposes a nominal fee for the permits, and said that drivers with disabilities would not be negatively impacted. “Disability permits will supersede anything else,” Rosenthal said. “In other words, if you have a disability sticker, you can take residential spot even if it’s not in your zone.”

The two bills both work to achieve similar goals, Rosenthal said. “At the end of the day there will be one bill and this will all be worked out in the legislative process,” she said.

Council Speaker Corey Johnson said he was “not fully versed on all the specifics of the bills” at an April 25 press conference and did not take a position on the legislation. “There are some pluses and minuses,” Johnson said. “I understand that there are many folks that live in communities across the city who find it very frustrating that they can’t find parking in their neighborhoods. We also are trying to disincentivize cars in New York City.”

Johnson added that he believes state authorization would not be required for the city to enact the policy. “It’s my understanding that we are allowed to do it, that state law says that municipalities with a population of over one million people are allowed to enact residential parking, and so I do believe that we have the authority to do this,” he said.

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