To Solve Princeton’s Parking “Problem” – Build More Housing

Our elected officials have been working hard to figure out how to “solve” Princeton’s parking “problem”, specifically targeting the downtown labor force, as well as the high school students, faculty and administrators.

The current thinking seems to be to manage the existing on-street parking supply around the downtown and the high school differently, with various types of paid permits, and to have the whole thing managed by a private, for profit vendor.

Why anyone would think that it is a good idea to provide more student parking is beyond me. So the entitled little darlings can spend another 15 minutes in bed, before tearing down our neighborhood streets in their late model Audis and BMWs? I don’t think so.

There is a stronger case to be made with respect to the school staff and downtown workers. And better managing the existing supply of on-street parking is certainly a superior alternative to building new parking lots. But it misses the point.

The demand for parking is a clear indicator of one thing: the lack of alternatives. People are driving because they can’t walk, bike or take transit. And that is where we should be investing.

The reality is that most employees of our school system and of downtown businesses, along with our police department, fire company, etc. etc. don’t live in town because of preference, but because they cannot afford to. So those who can afford to own and maintain a car drive in. And park. It’s that simple.

And the way to change that is to create the zoning incentives that will encourage more housing that those who serve our town can afford, in and around the core, along with the infrastructure that will encourage them to safely walk and bike to their destinations.

It’s a self-regulating system that does not require private, for profit vendors.

And, as a recent article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine makes clear, the public health benefits of investing in that non-vehicular transportation infrastructure far outweigh the costs. The result is a happier, healthier population and a healthier environment as well.

Carlos Rodrigues
Moore Street

Mr. Rodrigues is a certified planner, is a member of the municipality’s Franklin Avenue Development Task Force, and was hired to conduct the area in need of redevelopment survey for the municipality. He is also a member of the board of Princeton Future.


  1. I was hoping that by 2020 we would have driverless technology and taxis to eliminate the need for car ownership; thus eliminating parking problems downtown. I still hope this becomes a reality.

    When the weather is nice, walking and biking may be solutions. However, many locals still drive into town during the hot summers or cold winters.

  2. Please provide a link to the study or survey that show that municipal employees would favor renting apartments over getting more house for less money and lower taxes in nearby communities.

  3. Mr. Rodrigues has a very specific viewpoint. He envisions a Princeton downtown, including the shopping center, that caters almost solely to residents who can walk or bike to those areas. This approach works for large cities that have a much larger population density, but it will not work here given the population density limits, and the reality that much of the local population needs to drive to the downtown due to the distance to where they live. The proposals that are being floated will result in more local businesses closing and making the need for a car, to drive to the stores on Route 1, even more urgent. The downtown restaurants and other businesses cannot survive on the business of those who will walk or bike downtown. What we will see are more stores opening (such as candy and coffee shops) that cater to the undergraduates who are able to easily walk there.

  4. The writer lives on Moore Street and can walk downtown himself. He talks about the students as if they are entitled brats, yet he himself is an entitled person who lives in one of the most desirable neighborhoods in town. Princeton does not have the size or infrastructure of some of towns and cities where pedestrian plazas and no cars work, and we don’t have great public transportation. The idea that everyone will all of a sudden start walking and biking into town is a fantasy. Most of the new housing that will be built will, in the end, serve university employees and young families who are not lower income. Also, the notion that Witherspoon Street will become some hip :”East Village” that he and councilwoman Mia Sacks and their little base are promoting is another fantasy. It’s scary that this small group of people who think they know it all could be deciding the fate of Princeton for years to come and could end up ruining its character and make it a giant gridlocked parking lot in the process. Why don’t these environmentalists seem to care about the emissions from all the idling of vehicles downtown now? It’s a nightmare. Even more foolish is using pandemic time information and observations to make decisions about development.

  5. Agree with Princeton Rez. It is unfathomable that Council authorized payment from our tax coffers to someone with this obvious — and impractical — agenda, and who speaks so disrespectfully about the student segment of our population.

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