A divided Princeton Council voted 3-3 Monday night on new overnight parking regulations that would expand the number of streets where parking would be banned from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Mayor Liz Lempert broke the tie and voted against introducing the new overnight parking regulations until more resident outreach is done and the issue is studied further.
In most of the former township, anyone can park on the street. In the former borough, parking is forbidden from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. unless a resident has a permit.
Currently former Princeton Borough residents who do not have driveways are allowed one overnight parking permit per car for $30 a quarter. Proposed changes to the overnight parking ordinance would not take away their overnight parking permits.
Former Princeton Township residents follow different rules. Residents are allowed one decal a year to park on the street if they have a driveway, and two decals if they have no driveway. There is no fee for the decal. No parking is allowed on Carnahan Place, Harris Road, Henry Avenue, Jefferson Road, Moore Street, Southern Way, Witherspoon Street and Alexander Street from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. Parking is not allowed on Battle Road, Haslet Avenue, Springdale Road or Olden Lane from 2 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Right now a resident who lives on Leigh Avenue in the former borough section of the street who does not have a driveway pays $120 a year for one permit, while a neighbor down the street who lives is in the former township section gets a decal for free, even if the resident has a driveway.
Officials been working for several months to come up with an overnight parking policy for the consolidated town. Township employees were prepared to make a presentation on the proposal to extend the overnight parking ban on several streets, but instead the mayor allowed public comment first, citing the late hour and the packed agenda. The township employees never got to make their presentation and the issue was referred back to a committee.
Following were the options for overnight parking:
Officials could have chosen to ban parking throughout the town from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. (with the exception of permit holders), and could have addressed the fee issue so that former borough and township residents are treated equally.
They could have also decided to lift the parking ban, a move two former Princeton Borough officials said would be a disaster.
Officials were also given the option to change the boundaries for the overnight parking ban and add several streets, while also making the process and fees uniform.
Or, officials were given the choice of leaving everything as it is and maintaining the former borough and township regulations.
Unable to come to an agreement last night, the majority of governing body members seemed to be leaning toward keeping the status quo.
“We ought to protect what we have,” Councilwoman Heather Howard said. “The equity is really cut in favor of keeping existing rules.Tweaking at the edges is a real impact on the residents that live in that area that’s being affected.”
Councilwoman Jenny Crumiller said people bought their houses with regulations in place and therefore the regulations should be the same as long as they live there.
“I apologize for going back in the meeting now and changing my mind,” Crumiller said. “I just think it’s too hard to ask people to give up something. Taking something away from someone who had it already, we never do that.”
Councilwoman Jo Butler pointed out that people have been forced to give things up as a result of consolidation. Former Borough residents have given up regular leaf and brush pick up, and are now paying a higher open space tax.
“Well parking is different,” Howard said.
Butler said nothing is being imposed upon people that doesn’t already exist in the former Borough. A committee looked at extending the ban on several streets where it made sense.
“We are just trying to create some kind of consistency in the municipality,” she said, adding that she gave it her best shot.
Streets that would have been added under the revised map: Westerly Road, Mountain Avenue, Pardoe Road, Wilson Road, Morgan Place, Duffield Place, Bayard Lane, Valley Road, Hickory Court, Oakland Street, Guyot Avenue, a portion of Walnut Lane, Linden Lane, a portion of Ewing Street, Clearview Avenue, Dorann Avenue, Franklin Avenue, Leavitt Lane, Tee-Ar Place, a portion of Riverside Drive West, Western Way.
“We’re creating havoc where we don’t have to,” Councilman Lance Liverman said of the changes.
Council President Bernie Miller said the proposed boundaries were not drawn arbitrarily.
“We tried to identify parts of Princeton close to the former Borough that looked like the community on the other side,” he said. “The way lines were set up before encouraged people to game the system by parking across the line.”
Miller, Butler and Simon voted to introduce an ordinance maintaining the old borough regulations and adding several township streets. Howard, Liverman and Crumiller voted against it along with the mayor.
Green Street resident Andrea Ihnat said she moved from Brooklyn and now spends more than $700 a year for parking in Princeton.
“Overnight and daytime parking is easier in Brooklyn,” she said. “Near the art museum in Philly you pay $356 a year to park. Princeton needs to function like a real city.”
Chestnut Street resident Julie Landweber said she does not have a driveway and she and her husband both have cars because they commute to work. They have one permit and rent a private space.
“Houses with smaller footprints still need a car for work purposes,” She said. “I understand adjusting. Why not extend permits to the former township so everyone is paying the same nominal amount.”
Ihnat and Landweber said permit owners also struggle during the day to find places to park their cars. Said she spends too much tome driving around trying to find a space, wasting gas.
A resident from Clearview said he did not see how extending the line would benefit areas like his street and asked if the town would make more money from the move.
Councilman Patrick Simon said police can patrol the streets if cars are not parked overnight or use permits, and that public works has an easier job cleaning the streets when there are no cars parked overnight.
Former Princeton Borough Councilman David Goldfarb said the overnight parking ban and permit system was implemented when he was a councilman.
“The overnight parking restrictions are by far the best way to address overcrowding in the center of town,” he said. “Extending overnight parking for all residents would foster radical change in the real estate market.”
Former Princeton Borough Mayor Marvin Reed said Princeton is unique because it has a university in the center of town. The school does not allow undergraduates to park on campus.
“If we had not parking restrictions, there would quickly be no parking available in the center of town,” he said.