Town of Princeton to Enforce Overnight Parking Restrictions

noparkingOver the course of the next month, the Princeton Police Department will be phasing in a new standard for overnight parking. Permission to park overnight will not be granted on any street where overnight parking is prohibited, except in emergencies.

In the former Princeton Borough and on some streets in the former Princeton Township, overnight parking was prohibited, but residents who had guests could call the police department and receive permission for a car to be parked on the street overnight.

About half a dozen residents called the police department each night asking for permission to park a car on the street.

“The situation has devolved to the point where about 50 people are calling asking for permission each night.” Sergeant Mike Cifelli said.

For the past sixteen months, the town has considered numerous options to address the current parking situation and the disparity between the parking ordinances for the former Borough and Township, Cifelli said.

Town officials say it is time to standardize the actions by police officers in terms of enforcement and the allowances that can be made for overnight parking.

During the grace period over the next month,  enforcement of overnight parking restrictions will be consistent with what it has been in the past. The plan is to begin to limit he number of permissions that are given during the grace period in order to allow residents to find alternatives such as off-street parking or permits.

Overnight parking exceptions will be made on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the police department shift commander in the event of an emergency or other extraordinary circumstances. Residents who have parking permits will be allowed to park on streets where their permits are recognized as valid, police said. Parking permits are available to residents from the Princeton Clerk’s Office at town hall for a fee.

The new policy will be in effect until the parking ordinances for the two Princetons have been “harmonized,” officials said, adding that they will continue to work with the Princeton community to find a permanent solution to current parking issues “that will be satisfactory to all those involved.”


  1. This is pretty nasty for those of us in the former boro who have small driveways. I live in a 2-family home, and if either family has an overnight guest with a car, it has been needful to park one car on the street overnight. Now we have NO option, just like that? They just need to make it easy to register it–one the web, maybe? Instead of cutting us off. I’ve only needed to do this once or twice a year, but it’s a godsend when it happens. It’s not “an emergency” but it IS important. Boo on this policy.

  2. I am not clear on why the town needs such ordinances in any case. Where is the harm in allowing people to park on the streets overnight? Are we trying to enforce strict order: “A place for everything, and everything in its place”? Are we afraid of losing control of something? There are over 29,000 people in the town–with that many people, it’s going to get a little disordered sometimes, and that is a good thing.

  3. This is really regressive against people living in houses without off-street parking. We’ve just denied them the right to have guests visiting. Who approved such a decision?

  4. For people living in houses without off-street parking, this, coupled with the 1 permit per house policy, is utterly ridiculous.

    I don’t understand why there needs to be a no overnight parking policy without permits rule in the first place. For those living without off-street parking, it sucks. There are tons of empty or near empty streets in town in the middle of the night. Crime risk? There are other ways to resolve that. For example, we could have police actually patrolling instead of chatting while parked 3-cars-wide in the middle of Nassau St late at night.

  5. Traffic and Transportation Committee

    The seven member Traffic and Transportation Committee assists Mayor and Council in reviewing traffic and transportation. One member also member of PBAC. The Committee carries out other advisory, educational and informational functions as well promoting traffic and transportation issues. The Committee is governed by Municipal Law.

    Committee Members

    Anton Lahnston
    Ralph Widner
    Pam Hersh
    Robert Altman
    Surinder Sharma
    Murali Balasubramanian
    Sam Bunting (Liaison to Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee)

    NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Traffic and Transportation Committee will hold meetings on the following dates at 5:15 p.m. at the Princeton Municipal Witherspoon Hall, 400 Witherspoon Street, Conference Room A.

    February 10, 2014

    March 10, 2014

    April 21, 2014

    May 12, 2014

    June 9, 2014

  6. Council member here — There has always been pressure to change parking regulations to answer the needs of residents who own a car but do not own a driveway, or who don’t have enough parking space for multiple cars. Obviously it’s inconvenient for those residents. But I don’t think the town should take on the burden, financial and otherwise, of providing parking spaces for private residences, especially now. Residents who own vehicles have always paid for and maintained their own parking space, either by buying a large enough property with a driveway (and paying property accordingly) or by paying for a permit. Especially now when “smart growth” and walkable community planning strategies encourage a reduction in parking requirements for downtowns, it seems to me that changing this policy would be a step in the wrong direction. It would bring more cars into the already congested downtown areas and that’s not something that, as I understand it, we as a community want to do.

    1. Thanks, Jenny, for contributing to the discussion.

      “But I don’t think the town should take on the burden, financial and otherwise, of providing parking spaces for private residences, especially now” — What is the burden, exactly? Is there a financial cost to allowing more cars to park on town streets 2-6am? Sure, the roads will be a little more worn. However, there will likely be revenue generated from people who overstay their overnight parking to compensate.

      Re: permits — We are limited to one off-street car per house despite many open spaces on streets late at night. Why is that? Why not two? Or more, as long as we pay for them? I would pay more than the cost of the first permit for a second permit.

      Re: smart growth — The town is not congested at night or in the morning though, but yes, more parking would likely increase traffic at congested rush hour times, so point taken. Perhaps there is a way around that.

      “…that’s not something that, as I understand it, we as a community want to do.” — Is this something we can or have voted on? I would love to see public debate and a vote on this issue.

      1. Residents pay for these roads and their upkeep in their taxes and should have a say in the issue? Also, many of these streets allow metered, permit or 2-hour parking during the day, so I would like more information on how banning parking overnight contributes to a walkable town when we are talking about overnight parking.

      2. I should have been clear that I’m not advocating for a change in policy – I’m oppose changing the current parking regulations if it means increasing overnight parking in the downtown, which serves to limit the number of cars.

        I vigorously support government subsidies for housing, food, health care and other services for low income residents, as well as a shared infrastructure for all residents, but I don’t support the government providing private parking spaces. Much as this policy causes a hardship for some residents, it’s not something I feel the government has a moral obligation to provide.

        1. Jenny,

          Thanks for replying but surely you know that residents have traditionally had the right to park on the street. The Borough took that right away about 30 years ago. And the current policy has been implemented in a reasonable way for the last 20 years. What is now being proposed, and you seem to be supporting, is a change in how the policy has been implemented that hurts the poorest residents of Princeton.

          I don’t understand the logic in using the language that the “government is providing private parking spaces.” The Princeton town already provides these parking spaces on many streets and for many residents (primarily the wealthiest ones). Are you proposing to change policy so that noone in Princeton can park on the street? If so, why would you want to propose this? Why should the government take away something from the people.

          Lastly, what does overnight parking have to do with the congested streets during the day? There seems to be no connection. I’d like to hear why you are bringing this up.


        2. I am not taking a position, but it should be pointed out that the streets are maintained with residents’ tax dollars. I don’t blame people for being upset about the change, especially given the taxes residents pay in Princeton to maintain the roads and other services.

    2. Dear Jenny,

      Thank you for writing here. I understand the issues you mention but has no one considered that the primary impact of this new policy will be on the least well-off residents of Princeton. I am one of the people without a driveway. I would have a driveway if I could afford to buy a house in Princeton with one, but I cannot. I do have an on-street permit for my car. But I’m only allowed one. What am I now supposed to do when one of my relatives visits with their car?

      This seems like a change in policy that will greatly impact the least fortunate people in Princeton. One of the values of Princeton is trying to maintain affordable housing. By making life more difficult for people who own/rent in the cheaper housing in Princeton, the town is undermining that goal. I would ask the Council and the Police to immediately revert to the old policy. There are electronic solutions to the originally stated issue of too many people calling in to the police that would not hurt ordinary working folks.


    3. Jenny makes some very important points. First of all, the policy has not changed- the existing regulations are just being enforced. There is a policy discussion taking place, however, so it is important to consider all sides of the issue. Clearly, downtown residents would like to be able to guarantee easy parking on their streets. But there are several problems:

      The more flexibility there is about parking, the harder it is for anybody to get parked on their street. The spaces get taken up by students, or- in the case of a permit system- your neighbors, or your neighbors guests, or your neighbor’s friend, who is secretly exploiting the permit system to get a convenient place to park. A one-permit system sounds harsh, but it is the thing that gives you a shot at getting parked easily.

      Finally, permit schemes are inherently unfair. They privatize a public good (the streets) for a private use (storing an individual’s car). If the streets are paid for by all residents, why should some residents get special privileges to park there? Because they bought, or rented a place downtown? That isn’t logical, because a guaranteed on-street spot did not come with the deeds, and everybody knew the parking situation when they chose their place to live. The entitlement should really go to everybody who pays Princeton taxes, not just a selected few.

      1. The public pays for the streets via their taxes, so why not let the public park on the streets they pay for overnight, like people are allowed to do in most communities across the country?

        1. Also, is this then going to lead to rationale for changing the zoning in the Witherspoon neighborhood so more parking is allowed, a move that a developer is fighting for? The move will not help the average citizens who live there, but will enable the developer to get a premium price for properties. Lower income residents will be driven out.

        2. I understand that overnight parking restrictions were put in place to ensure that students didn’t use the Borough as a semester-long parking lot.

          1. Almost all downtown roads are already metered or time-limited. Students living on campus would not keep their cars parked longer than overnight; otherwise they would have to move it every morning and move it back every evening. No reasonable student would do that regularly.

      2. ” First of all, the policy has not changed- the existing regulations are just being enforced.”

        This is not true. The way that the regulations are being enforced is changing in a way that they haven’t ever been enforced before. In a pretty draconian and anti-citizen way, too.

    4. Perhaps the former township residents who currently enjoy the privilege of overnight street parking should be assessed an additional tax to cover the burden, financial and otherwise, of their privilege?

        1. Some streets have physical limitations that prevent residents from exercising that privilege.

          The goal of the previous post is to include the residents of the former township in the conversation. The point being that we are all part if the same Princeton, but some of us have different privileges for reasons that are not understood. If there is some kind of cost associated with overnight parking then all of the residents who currently enjoy that privilege should pay for it.

        2. Some residents in the former township disagree and say parking is also restricted overnight on their streets. Are they wrong about their streets being restricted, SFB?

          1. As far as a know, all former township streets allow overnight parking. For example, residents living on Erdman in the former borough would not be allowed to park on the street overnight. However, those living on Erdman in the former township would be allowed without penalty. In this example next-door neighbors are faced with conflicting ordinances.

            1. Some residents in the former township have reported that there is no parking overnight on their streets. Will have to look into which streets.

              1. I would argue that some of those restrictions are because parts of the township are quite close to town and some are in place for the benefit of the residents – as is most likely the case with the restrictions around the institute neighborhood.

          2. Here are the former township ordinances:

            Sec. 11-13. 2:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M.

            No person shall park a vehicle on the following streets or parts of streets between the hours of 2:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M.:

            Carnahan Place.

            Harris Road.

            Henry Avenue.

            Jefferson Road.

            Moore Street.

            Southern Way.

            Witherspoon Street.

            (Ord. No. 500, § 1; Ord. No. 519, § 2; Ord. No. 548, § 1; Ord. No. 744, § 1; Ord. No. 925, § 3; Ord. No. 88-50, § 1.)

            Sec. 11-13.1. 2:00 A.M. to 6:00 A.M., Mondays through Fridays.

            No person shall park any vehicle between the hours of 2:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M. on the following streets or parts of streets and on the following days:

            Alexander Street. Both sides, entire length from the Princeton Borough – Princeton Township line southerly to the West Windsor Township – Princeton Township line.

            (Ord. No. 87-6, § 1; Ord. No. 88-24, § 2.)

            Sec. 11-14. 2:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M.

            No person shall park a vehicle on any of the following streets or parts of streets between the hours of 2:00 A.M. and 10:00 A.M.:

            Battle Road.

            Haslet Avenue.

            Springdale Road.

            Olden Lane.

            (Ord. No. 592, § 1; Ord. No. 612, § 1.)

    5. Your suggestion to simply buy a larger property with a driveway is INCREDIBLY tone deaf to situation of less wealthy members of the Princeton community. I live in the John Street/Witherspoon Street neighborhood and many of us do not even have driveways, let alone large enough ones for multiple cars. The restriction of one permit per residence is already a problem for those of us who live with roommates, rather than families. The overnight lots in town have over a year long wait for a permit, which takes them off the table. Now you’re denying us the ability to have occasional overnight guests as well?

      I would love to live in Princeton without a car, but until there’s a better public transportation system that would allow me to efficiently buy groceries and get to a laundromat, that’s not a realistic possibility.

      Additionally, despite my having an overnight parking permit for my block, I’ve had to go to the police station 11 times in the past 8 months because they’ve accidentally issued me a ticket for parking overnight. Apparently consolidation of parking operations has been so inefficient your township officers don’t know what the borough permits look like and vice versa.

    6. Seriously, this is the most disingenuous answer possible. First, how does parking between 2am and 6am cause an undo traffic burden? And then you have to ask yourself, of all the driving rules and regulations from speed limits to no right turns to meter parking, why is this ordnance not posted. If I could find one sign that says “No Parking from 2am to 6am” for non permit holders, you’d have a leg to stand on. But after receiving a ticket for said violation, I looked everywhere to find a posting. I could find everything else but this.

      Which leads me to conclude that this was set up as a ticket trap / revenue raiser for unsuspecting out of town visitors. In a land where just about every parking restriction is posted, with the overnight ordnance not being posted, it’s unreasonable to expect a visitor to know that this is on the books. Unless you plan all along is to bilk them. This intent is further confirmed that unlike many municipalities, where you can appeal via mail or email, in Princeton, you must show up in person to contest a parking violation. Fat chance when you’re visiting from out of town.

      Your altruistic “smart growth’ testimony is detestable. This ordnance was passed with as much calculation as the omission of signs concerning it. The only study done was probably a rough calculation on a napkin on how many residents would get ticketed the first year, and how many steady flow of out towners replenished every four years would get nailed ad infinitum. Hey, it won’t even cost us street signs! Sure its political face was “smart growth” but deep inside you and your ilk, thought of this as Christmas and a way to avoid another bond issue.

      This is the Princeton version of the small town speed trap. Disgusting and makes me loathe to visit your precious dominion again. Unless of course you post a sign at the town gate.

  7. As someone who currently has a permit to park on my street overnight (I have no driveway), I certainly hope that “harmonizing” is not code for the town banning it everywhere. I frankly have never seen any need to ban parking overnight, and this just seems like one step closer to enhancing the already swollen parking fine revenues that seem to be the Town’s raison d’etre.

  8. Please consider attending the Princeton Traffic and Transportation Committee meeting to voice your concerns and opinions The meeting is scheduled for May 12, 2014, at 5:15pm in conference room A in the Municipal Building on Witherspoon Street. The last meeting was on April 21st when this “new standard” was discussed and agreed upon.

  9. So this is the result of the consolidation? Can someone remind me what the benefit of that was supposed to be again?

    1. The overnight parking restrictions are rules that were put in place by the former *Borough*, intended to protect Borough residents from unwanted parking on their streets. The result of consolidation is that the town is trying to harmonize parking regulations, and is considering moving closer to the old Township way of doing things, which is much freer about overnight parking. If you like overnight parking, this is clearly a benefit of consolidation.

      1. ARE they considering moving closer to the Township way of doing things? I don’t see much here to support that. Maybe I’m reading this wrong, but what’s happening seems to be the exact opposite of “freer” and beneficial for anyone that likes overnight parking. That’s what “give residents time to find alternatives” says to me, anyway. If you have a different take I’d love to hear it.

  10. May I suggest that instead of this, in my view, unnecessary prohibition, that each home with a permit also be issued temporary passes to be placed on the dash for their guests? Some communities issue one that can be used repeatedly (e.g. Tucson near the U of A); others give out a specified number per year, which have to be filled out each time one is used (e.g. Cambridge, MA).

    For the record, my family chose to live in our neighborhood for its “walkability.” I am much more concerned about cars speeding or failing to stop for school buses, aggressive driving around bicycles, inadequate infrastructure for biking, etc. We are fortunate to live on a beautiful Tree Street in a home that enables our family to park easily, but I see how many of our neighbors are constricted by the “one car, one permit” rule.

  11. I live in downtown Princeton and I can’t get on the street
    overnight parking permit as street is not for ‘dedicated’ for overnight parking.

    If I am lucky, I may get overnight parking permit at the municipal parking lot which is about 0.3 miles away from my home in CBD area. Now 0.3 miles walk is not a problem on a nice day, but with heavy rain, snow or ice is no fun.

    Solution is very simple:

    An ordinance of removing ban of overnight parking would definitely improve life of Princeton residents [and their guests].

    Parking is metered anyway from 8am (although majority of shops are closed till 10am) till 8pm, so people can not just live their cars for a prolonged period of time.

  12. The fact that the overnight ordnance is not posted on streets where it’s enforced tells me this is purely a revenue trap akin to small town speed traps. At least they’ve the decency to post the speed limit somewhere. This notion is further reinforced by the fact that appeals must be in person. Good luck if you’re from out of town.

    Every other parking ordnance and vital traffic flow regulation is posted: from speed limits, meter parking, tow away zones, etc. But this overreaching ordnance is not. Omitting it from a street that has signs such as metered hours gives an out of towner a false sense of being within the law – until the next morning. That’s what happened to me. I’m done with Princeton until you get your elected pickpockets out of office.

Comments are closed.