City Council considers giving residents parking permits

Spectrum_News_NY1.png By Jose Martinez

The search for parking in Upper Manhattan comes at a cost: With space at a premium, the hunt can become a time-consuming drag.

"Horrible, horrible. If you don't get home by 2:30, 3 o'clock, you won't get parking," one resident said in his car.

Residents are especially upset that they often have to compete with out-of-state drivers who would rather park on the street to avoid the hefty fees at parking garages.

"You see vehicles with Jersey plates — often luxury cars, Mercedes, BMW — circling around our neighborhoods, coming off the George Washington Bridge, waiting for open parking and crowding out local residents, adding to our congestion," Manhattan City Councilman Mark Levine said.


On Tuesday, the City Council held a hearing on several parking proposals, including creating a parking permit program that would reserve most spaces on residential streets to drivers who actually live in the city or specific neighborhoods.

Similar permit programs have existed for decades in Boston, San Francisco and other cities.

"First of all, it is common sense," Manhattan City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez said. "We believe that in the city of New York, we should dedicate 80 percent of the street parking spots to people who live in certain communities."


Council members say they're building support for the measure, though they concede it faces several big hurdles.

Witnesses representing the de Blasio administration sounded lukewarm to the concept, detailing a number of drawbacks.

"If a supply of permits significantly exceeds the number of parking spaces in a zone, the permit is no guarantee of parking availability — just a permit that residents must now obtain for the privilege of circling the block looking for parking, exactly as they did before," Margaret Forgione of the city Transportation Department said at the hearing.

"I think it's a really complex idea," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in April when the proposal was first floated by some city council members.

"We'll give it serious consideration. I just want to caution people this is a classic 'sounds good,' and there are some good things, but there are also a lot of unintended consequences."

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson was also noncommittal at that time. "We're also trying to [not incentivize] cars in New York City," he said. "We're trying to get people to use cars less."

Out-of-state drivers, understandably, are not happy with the idea, either.

"I don't think it's fair," one driver said Tuesday. "But I also get what they're saying, as well, because New York is already overpopulated and there's no parking as it is."

The administration said any program would need the passage of a state law to take effect. Council members disputed that.

And like drivers circling the block for a parking spot, sponsors of the legislation said they will press on.

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