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Princeton Council to Revisit Borders for Overnight Parking Restrictions

noovernightparkingA 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.

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • oldprincetonian

    parking should be consistent thru Princeton. to see select streets omitted or allowed should have a basis that makes sense like road width or speed limit. to buy a property with no off street parking seems foolish if you have a vehicle or worse yet 2. And if there really is a desire to have affordable housing in Princeton perhaps our leaders shouldnt be paying 50 -100% over market value for properties like the flood prone house across from mayor’s home or the house in witherspoon area that was bought and resold a year later at good profit by builder. The surface lots and garages were for many years the most common areas for overnight parking. This allowed easier street clearing and patrols. If over night permits for street parking become common I suggest using the found money to pay for more police presence thru all of princeton in the evening hours. Do we even still have the officers riding bikes any more?

  • FreshAir

    And I should mention, my Princeton family costs are LOW compared to others because I walk or bike (perilously) whenever I can, which takes a huge load off my family…out here in the former T-hood.

  • FreshAir

    You both seem very experienced about parking in the former B-Hood. If the Mayor ever has a parking task-force, I hope you’re on it. But, it seems to me that parking fees affect almost EVERY resident driver who does business in/enjoys the town center too. My working neighbor’s family & mine are good examples. Living in the former T-Hood, my family pays $450 to $850 a year to Princeton for parking use (PLUS we paid Waste Management for weekly trash pick-up before consolidation). My neighbor pays a set fee for a dinky parking permit…and feels he won the lottery in getting it. His young family (him, wife + child) still use the downtown meters sometimes too…more, he says, since the dinky has moved. My family’s parking expense fluctuates because of varied work/school locations over the years, & various solutions we have tried to work out to keep parking costs down. But that is really impossible to do now, so it is a rising cost. Parking is a regular expense that we must consider in household budgets, out here in the former T-Hood. Parking tickets for meter deficits happen sometimes and are not included in my number…and I once paid a huge fee for overnight parking in the spring street garage , when a train problem me in the city overnight. We ALL have a stake in Princeton’s management of parking & so I hope it improves. It concerns me when people who don’t need a downtown space suggest giving the tour bus four parking spaces in perpetuity…another LOSS for former T-hood residents struggling to park.

  • FreshAir

    Parking is definitely not a former B-Hood versus former T-Hood issue. Parking fees affect EVERY resident driver who does business in/enjoys the town center AND car owners who don’t have a private driveway/space living within the walkable town center. My working neighbor’s family & mine are good examples. Living in the former T-Hood, my family pays $450 to $850 a year to Princeton for parking use (PLUS weekly trash pick-up to Waste Management before consolidation). My neighbor pays a set fee for a dinky parking permit…he feels he won the lottery in having it. But, his young family (him, wife + child) still use the downtown meters sometimes…more, he says, since the dinky has moved. My family’s parking expense fluctuates because of varied work/school locations over the years, & various solutions we have tried to work out to keep parking costs down. But that is really impossible to do now, so it is a rising cost. Parking is a regular expense that we must budget for, here in the former T-Hood . Oh, and did I mention the parking tickets we have paid for meter deficits? Or the time I paid a huge fee in the overnight fee for spring street garage? That unfortunate expense happened too. Any way you cut it, Princeton collects money for parking from the majority of residents here for parking use & blunders.

  • PrincetonParker

    What’s interesting is that the town has historically taxed properties without driveways as if they had a driveway. So these properties have paid taxes for amenities that they did not have. I am all in favor of equitable taxation. However, historically, this hasn’t been the practice.

    There must be something special about parking. Throughout the former township, residents with driveways could additionally park a car on the street overnight, but now that there is consolidation, the aim seems to be to take away this privilege from residents living next to the former township/borough boundaries. Shouldn’t the town instead enlarge the number of streets with this privilege by allowing the streets on the boundaries have the same privileges that were enjoyed by the township residents? Why is the default to take away privileges and not increase them?

    I’d also like to point out that the town does currently charge (most) Borough-area property owners for an on-street parking permit. I would also note that the taxes that town residents pay to keep up the streets are disproportionately spent to maintain the streets of those living in less dense areas of town. There is a net subsidy for these roads from those with relatively less land (in the downtown) to those with more land (and road frontage) outside of downtown. If exact calculations are done, it will probably show that the advantage downtown residents get from parking on the street overnight is greatly outweighed by the money spent to maintain streets outside the downtown area (on a per resident basis).

  • FreshAir

    You are right in stating that there are solutions to Princeton’s parking issues. Hopefully, they will be smart, fair, successful ones. Sometimes, building permit exceptions have been granted to developers/ businesses in Princeton, allowing them to provide less than the minimum number of parking spaces required by building codes. In short, some entities have been allowed to shift the parking demands of their profit/business centers onto existing neighborhoods. If nothing else, paid Princeton officials shouldn’t be allowed to grant exceptions that will further increase demand for the limited, parking spaces that exist.

  • FreshAir

    Sometimes someone says something really brilliant & insightful out loud. My favorite this week: “We’re wreaking havoc where we don’t have to.” (Liverman). I hope this statement was heard by everyone on Council.

    Is it ever OK to take money, by charging a fee, when it’s not appropriate? Aren’t there more creative solutions than “fees” & “bans”? Should “the tail wag the dog” in government, as employees suggest unnecessary fees & program expansion to increase work & pay? Is it right to enlarge & enhance government, by expanding unnecessary fee management, enforcement jobs, & programs here? Council really needs to consider these questions.

    To “move forward”, reality testing & reality driven decisions are what Princeton needs from Council. Please, Council, consider solutions that are wise, creative, & applied only where real needs & real problems exist. Consolidation, to shrink two, redundant governments, is the task taxpayers hoped you would do.

  • Douglas Rubin

    I suggest that an on-street parking permit attached to a residence (based on # of bedrooms?), adds value to that property . . . and could theoretically be included in the assessed value of that property.

    The 60~80 sq.ft. that a car takes up on the street can be considered an asset that is essentially transferred from the town to a private parker/resident. If it’s priced properly, it can be a win-win.

    When I lived on Chestnut, I would have been happy to have had the option to “pay” (the property owner or the Borough) for an on-street parking permit. Now, we pay taxes (and mortgage) for the land for our driveway.

  • peter

    I agree 100% with you. All ‘equalizing’ ordinances after the ‘consolidation’ were on the account of former borough residents.

    Equalize = make borough residents pay more than before

    Consolidation = yuck. Just more headache and no savings at all. Well I guess some politicians got some points from their bosses, and lawyers banked hefty checks and that is all.

  • PrincetonParker

    If Princeton is going to encourage more density in housing, and offer more affordable housing options, the town needs to lift the parking ban throughout the town. If cities like Boston, San Francisco, and NYC have figured this out, so can Princeton.

    If the concern is overnight parking by the students, permits for overnight parking should only be issued to residents of residences which pay property taxes. These permits should be in the region (not the exact street but close by) to where the person lives. This is a legal, workable solution that works in other college towns. There is no reason that residents should be denied parking because of a false fear that that the college students would be parking on our streets.

  • Bob Schwartz

    Seems like the option “change the boundaries for the overnight parking ban and *subtract* several blocks, while also making the process and fees uniform” would be the best, if something needs to be changed.

  • Baffled

    Oh no, there’s no borough and township divide at all. The outcome is totally illogical and the council is spineless. If residents shouldn’t lose anything I’d like my brush and leaf pick up back. Residents don’t lose anything when they are from the former township. They have chances to make decisions based on sound policy and instead they are guided by the applause-o-meter. Only an idiot would think consolidation won’t change anything. Come up with a policy that is fair to all residents and stop the nonsense.

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