Bloomberg at the wheel – Mayor drives for congestion pricing plan

By Stephen Witt

A Brooklyn lawmaker last week ripped Mayor Bloomberg’s recently released residential parking permit plan as a lot of hooey. “How can you propose a change as sweeping as this without knowing how much it will cost,” said City Councilmember Lew Fidler. “It shows me they are pulling it up their keister as they go.” Under the residential parking permit initiative, each community board district throughout the city can tailor their own plan to address specific needs, and restrictions will vary based on neighborhood parking patterns. Residents with a permit displayed on their vehicle will be able to park in an RPP designated space all day.  Cars without a permit for a particular zone will be able to park in residential permit spaces during a set 90-minute time period each day.  In this instance, residential permit spaces could be restricted to one side of the street to provide some parking for visitors during the 90-minute residential permit time period. The timing of this 90-minute period could be adjusted depending on neighborhood characteristics, but these 90-minute periods would restrict out–of–neighborhood cars from parking for long periods of time. Visitors coming to the neighborhood to shop, use neighborhood services or conduct other business will only be restricted from the permit spaces during the 90-minute period, but will have access to more spaces at other times of the day. The city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) will issue annual permits to residents who are able to show proof of vehicle registration at an address within the permit area. Under the proposal, beginning in the fall of 2008, residents can petition for the establishment of a residential parking permit zone in their neighborhood by submitting a request to their community board on a form that will be available on the DOT web-site.  The community board will then be required to hold a public meeting. The community board’s approved plan will then be submitted to the Borough President and the local city councilmember, who will both be required to approve the plan before it is implemented. Bloomberg said there will be a minimal fee to administrate the program, but said the figures haven’t been worked out yet. “This is a promising and proven parking management strategy that together with congestion pricing will help us achieve one of the key goals of PlaNYC – cutting down on pollution-creating traffic and creating an environmentally sustainable transportation system for New York City,” said Bloomberg. The plan, however, is tied to Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan and the two must be passed by both the state legislature and the city council by March 31 or the city will fail to receive a $354 million federal allocation. Bloomberg said the wording of the legislation will be submitted to Albany and the city council in the next few weeks. In a letter about residential permit parking to colleagues in the city council, Fidler said the DOT offered absolutely no clue whatsoever as to the cost of the program either to taxpayers or permit holders. He noted that with the exception of Boston, all other American cities that have a similar program charge for the permits. This includes San Francisco ($60 per year), Philadelphia ($35 for the first year and a $20 renewal) and Chicago ($16.50 for 4-month intervals. Also opposing the plan is Flatbush City Councilmember Kendall Stewart. “I’m not in agreement with it. You have to pay to administer it and after a few years, people will have to pay a lot more. It’s another form of tax on Brooklyn residents,” said Stewart.

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