With Congestion Pricing on Horizon, Manhattan Council Members Renew Call for Residential Parking Permits North of the Central Business District

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 28, 2019
CONTACT: Jake Sporn // 516-946-5253 // jsporn@council.nyc.gov

Manhattan, New York -- Today, City Council Members Mark Levine & Helen Rosenthal, co-chairs of the Manhattan Delegation, and Council Members Keith Powers & Diana Ayala, renewed their call for the City Department of Transportation (DOT) to create a residential parking permit (RPP) system in Northern Manhattan, covering all areas north of 60th Street through Inwood, as designed in their legislation introduced last year, Int. 848-2018.

Neighborhoods in the northern half of Manhattan increasingly face the crowding and congestion of suburban commuters leaving their cars on local streets in order to transfer to the subway--a problem that will be severely exacerbated with congestion pricing on the horizon.

The bill, introduced by Council Members Levine, Rosenthal, Powers, and Ayala seeks to address this problem by requiring DOT to designate specific areas and neighborhoods where a residential parking permit (RPP) system would be implemented, and to determine the days and times when permit requirements would be in effect. Under the proposed law, DOT would be able to reserve up to 80% parking spaces on designated residential blocks for people who live in the neighborhood, leaving the remaining spots for non-residents. The legislation also specifies that no RRP zone would be implemented on streets zoned for commercial or retail use. While 85,000 parking spots in commercial areas across the City are metered, 97% of on-street spaces are free, disproportionately benefiting 27% of New Yorkers who use their cars to get to work.

The program is designed to give local residents priority for on-street parking in residential areas and to discourage park-and-ride commuters. New York is one of the only major cities in America that does not have some version of an RPP.

In addition to this legislation, the bill’s sponsors are calling for the following protections to be implemented in the rules-making process, including requirements that DOT:

  • Hold public hearings with community boards before implementing RPP in a neighborhood;
  • Ensure permits are only issued to individuals holding a New York State driver's license and whose primary residence is in NYC;
  • Ensure permits are attached to specific license plate numbers; and
  • Limit the number of permits issued to one per licensed driver.

“As momentum continues to build for the creation of a desperately needed congestion pricing program to fund public transit, now more than ever, the City needs to address the prevailing issue of suburban commuters dumping their cars in our neighborhoods, only to transfer to the subway on their way downtown,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “Whether you live in Washington Heights or the Upper East Side, parking in Manhattan is an incredible challenge. With congestion pricing finally on the precipice of becoming reality, we can’t afford to continue as one of the only big cities in America that doesn’t have a residential permit system--this policy is long overdue and urgently needed.”

“As we prepare for the implementation of congestion pricing, we must ensure that neighborhoods surrounding Manhattan’s central business district do not become parking lots for drivers seeking to avoid a toll. Residential permit parking will help us do that, and is a long overdue step toward a more sensible street policy for New York City. Municipalities across the country have implemented such a system, and I am proud to work with Council Members Levine and Powers on this issue,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal.

“As the city engages in next steps on congestion pricing to ease traffic and fund the deteriorating subway system, this is a timely opportunity to secure residential parking permits for residents,” said Council Member Keith Powers who represents parts of the Upper East Side. “Permits will ensure residents have first priority as parking spots outside the proposed zone become more valuable. Thank you to Council Member Levine for a continued focus around traffic and parking.”

“Undoubtedly, congestion pricing will reduce traffic in Manhattan’s Central Business Districts and bring the city much-needed revenue to improve our transit system. However, the plan is likely to exacerbate the prevalence of suburban commuters parking their cars in Northern Manhattan neighborhoods. In order to mitigate this influx, DOT must implement a residential parking permit system that will prioritize our city’s residents first,” said Council Member Diana Ayala.

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