Letters: Council members explain parking permit system goals

To the Editor:

There has been a lot of misinformation circulating regarding the Permit Parking Task Force’s (PPTF’s) intended purpose and goals. We’d like to set the record straight.

Our main goal is to give residents the ability to park on their streets in neighborhoods that are particularly impacted by competing pressures: homes that lack driveways, and businesses with patron and employee parking needs. In order to tackle this problem, we hope to have one type of resident permit, allowing for overnight parking, and be a uniform price throughout town, instead of the patchwork of different rules and different fees we have now.

Our secondary goal is to better manage employee parking. We need to locate this parking on streets not subject to pressure from customer parking, while limiting the number of employees, so that residents and their guests can still park on their street. We would allow, in streets closest to commerce, some interspersed three-hour parking for patrons, but employee parking would not be allowed in these locations. Balancing the needs of the residents, patrons, and employees is no easy task — but the PPTF, after several years of research and work, has come to some recommendations which we have been sharing in community discussions.

The employee permit we are looking to offer would not be a “commuter business subsidy,” rather we intend to replace existing free employee parking with paid employee permits. “Detrimental spillover to residential communities,” which opponents fear, is in fact already there. Our goal is to improve the balance to allow more spaces for residents to park on their own streets.

Another piece of misinformation is that there will be a cost to Princeton residents associated with this program, a “taxpayer-subsidized business parking scheme.” In fact, this program would be self-funded. Not only would the permit fees pay for the cost of the program, it would eliminate the need for residents to call the police department every time they need to park overnight, which is a burden on our staff and on the taxpayers.

In addition to on-street employee permit parking, we are working on shared lot agreements, and hope to add more in the future, as with the agreement with Rider for parking on the Westminster campus. Soon, we plan to expand our transit options to convey employees, and residents, to many desired destinations around town. We are committed to better using existing infrastructure and services, and adding more as needed, but with affordability being a top priority, so that taxpayers are not additionally burdened.

We hope that the residents who are opposed to this plan will come to understand that we are trying to better manage a situation that already exists. We hope that they will work with us to find near- and long-term solutions that will provide much-needed relief to their neighbors and assure a vibrant walkable town.

In a time when we face great political divisiveness, worsening climate change, and a persistent pandemic, we shouldn’t let solving our parking woes further divide us.

Council members Michelle Pirone Lambros, David Cohen, and Leticia Fraga (all three are on the parking permit task force)


  1. I am not sure what the pandemic and the political environment have to do with any of this and if council is invoking climate change well…more parking does not help this…. also this is not self funding if residents are paying for parking permits. it is another fee or tax without calling it as such… incredible. 

  2. This plan sounds reasonable, but why on earth should we tax payers pay for the business employee parking? Hope I misunderstand this since our property taxes already are far too high!

  3. PPTF: Yes or no — will residents have to pay for parking permits? Stop skirting the issue and gilding the lily. Stop cancelling public meetings. Council and public: Make the decision a referendum, so it is democratic and the outcome undisputable.

  4. To Whom it May Concern:

    NO resident, ANYWHERE in Princeton (who is already paying astronomical property taxes) should have to pay anything more to park in front of their own house, on their own street – and there MUST be enough available space on their street to be able to do so whenever and for whatever reason they need to do so – and that goes for anyone visiting them or working for them. PERIOD !!!

    Of course that goes for anyone who is NOW paying a fee – NOT FAIR ! NO ONE should have to pay. EVERYONE should be able to park for free on their street – no ifs, ands, or buts. EVERYONE is EVERYONE. We refuse to have residential streets turned into parking lots. Any streets that are parking lots now, must be cleared for the use of residents. There is plenty of parking space available in downtown parking facilities and other satellite parking lots – USE IT. Also shuttle buses can be used to transport people from more distant parking locations safely and conveniently to and from downtown. (No employee should have to slog to and from a parking spot, 1/2 mile away from their workplace, in the cold, snow, rain, hot sun, whatever.)

    Other towns have figured this out. We can too.

    1. “there MUST be enough available space on their street… and that goes for anyone… working for them.” Interesting how those working for you–your employees, we might say–“MUST” be allowed street parking adjoining the places they are working, but the employees of local businesses are to find parking in the (expensive) downtown facilities or take hypothetical shuttle busses from elsewhere.

      And while I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that owning a house on a public street does not make the relevant section of that street any less public, you still seem to be operating under the principle “because I pay property taxes, I should be able to use the public street in front of my house whenever I want, to whatever extent I want, to the exclusion of non-residents” even though this is surely just to reject the notion of a public street altogether.

  5. The main thing the pandemic does is make it impossible to know how much business parking will actually be needed when it is over. This is not the time to make such decisions when we DON’T know. And yes a parking fee is an added tax in disguise. Not acceptable and not fair to anyone.

  6. Why indeed ? We already pay a fortune to live in Princeton – I believe our property taxes here are either the highest, or close to the highest, in NJ, and NJ has one of the couple of highest property tax rates in the whole USA. People in similar houses elsewhere are horrified when I tell them what I pay: $16,000. They tell me they pay $500. or so a year. So what are we paying for? – especially if people any place else park on their own streets for free. There are much better solutions that this very problematical expensive complicated proposal.

  7. A referendum is a great idea – and Yes the idea is to make people PAY to park on their own streets – and I think the present proposal is that if a resident has a visitor or worker who needs to park there for more than 3 hours, the resident would have to get their license plate number, go online and list it, and also PAY money for the visitor, worker, relative etc to park on their street. Big mess.

  8. They are canceling the public meeting because too many people would show up to voice their opposition. Instead they will hold a closed door meeting to formulate the task force unanimous decision on the rules that will apply to you, the lowly taxpaying resident. No public input required when the task force can wave their wand and rule over the residents without opposition and spend money on projects as they please. Welcome to the new WOKE Princeton. Brought to you by a ZOOM mute button and the power wielding council. How dare you be employed during the day to pay your astronomical town taxes and not be able to attend the council meetings. You want to be able to park in front of your own home? Are you worthy? It is clear that the elected officials are interested in their own agenda and not in the best interest of people trying to live here. Other towns give homeowners a permit. Ridiculous. How much did we pay that company to study Princeton parking? $60,000? Clearly too much.

  9. Free parking permit for a resident will never happen in “affordable” Princeton. What is next? Free laundry and dry cleaning service and free battery-powered shuttle to work? At ZERO cost to the taxpayer because it’s all free and paid for by the the hundreds of billionaires in town or better yet the government and its money printing machine.

  10. We work in the cities and pay for our own train station parking, the trains, the subways and all parking permits. The New York and Philadelphia taxpayers do not pay for our transportation although we pay taxes in both cities as well as in Princeton. We often walk further than from Westminster to downtown Princeton. We are adults who have made a decision to live in one place and work in another so we pay for this ourselves and don’t rely on others or the government. Working to pay for the things you and your family need and sticking to a BUDGET. A revolutionary idea we wish the Mayor and Princeton Council would adopt unanimously.

  11. It is true that the street is public so this might be a good compromise.

    An example from Philadelphia:

    “Residents in eligible areas can purchase parking permits that exempt them from meter and time limit restrictions on posted blocks. These permits assist residents in finding parking spaces near their home, enhancing the quality of life in residential areas with insufficient on-street parking – such as those that are adjacent to businesses, transit facilities or large institutions.

    Terms and Fees
    The annual fee for a permit is per household:

    1st vehicle in household – $35 annually
    2nd vehicle in same household – $50 annually
    3rd vehicle in same household – $75 annually
    4 or more vehicles in same household – $100.00 each annually

    If your permit is expired, your vehicle is subject to ticketing.

    Temporary Parking Permits:

    Temporary permits are available for $15 for fifteen days and $30 for thirty days, which runs consecutive. Temporary parking permits must be obtained in-person at our permit office located at 35. N 8th Street.

    Visitor Day Passes:

    Visitor Day passes are available, one book of five passes for $35.00. Visitor day passes can be obtained via mail or in-person at our permit office located at 35. N 8th Street with the application provided below.”

  12. More from Philadelphia:

    “To be eligible for a Residential Permit Parking sticker, your vehicle must display Pennsylvania license plates and be registered to your home address within the area’s permit parking district. You must provide PPA with proof of vehicle registration; along with proof of resident in the form of the following. All documents must reflect apartment number when applicable.

    Your driver’s license
    Your lease, or
    A recent utility bill in your name
    The vehicle registration requirement can be waived if you drive a company car (including a leased company car), or if you are in the military service.

    NOTE: Parking Enforcement Officers will scan your vehicle’s license plate to confirm an active permit. We still highly recommend placing the permit sticker on your rear windshield when it arrives in the mail.“

  13. My understanding from the proposed parking rules for the tree streets posted online by the municipality https://www.princetonnj.gov/…/Features-Variations-All…is:

    1. Residents of the Tree Streets will no longer be able to park on the street all day – they will only be able to park for 3 hours — unless they do not have a driveway.

    2. Employers will pay $10 a month for a commercial on-street parking permit that allows all day parking on the street. (Residents will not have the ability to buy such a parking permit unless they do not have a driveway.) This is a small amount to pay for commercial parking. The cost mentioned by one reader was $200 a month for a parking space in a garage in town. Why is the municipality considering charging businesses so little for parking?

    It doesn’t seem like the “main goal of the task force is to give residents the ability to park on their streets”.

    There is free university lot parking in the Engineering Lot starting at 5 pm in the evenings and all weekend, behind the post office, just across Nassau from the Tree Streets. If the municipality wanted to do something for the residents of the Tree Streets they would restrict parking on the Tree Streets from 5 pm in the evenings and on the weekends to non-commercial parking (including customers of the businesses) — all commercial parking could be in the university lot.

    The poor people on Pine Street almost never have any open spots on their street due to all the commercial parking. They can almost never have a guest come by and park nearby their home.

    The proposed parking plan is for 40% of the spaces to be for commercial parking. I spent two days this summer photographing cars to see how long they parked during the day and speaking with people who parked on Maple Street. Most cars turned over rather quickly. Although we have a few employees parking on the street all day, it is nowhere near 40% of the street’s spaces.
    It is quite possible that assigning 40% of Maple Street’s parking to commercial permits will increase parking crowding on the street, not decrease it.

    At the inexpensive prices the municipality is charging, employers will no longer purchase spaces for the business in parking lots and garages but will purchase the $10/month permits on the streets.


  14. Why shouldn’t residents be able to park on their streets all day if employees can park there all day? This is just wrong! It sounds like the Council is proposing to subsidize the business costs of local businesses at the expense of residents. I can’t afford to eat at BluePoint Grill, so why should I have to subsidize their business with my tax dollars?

    1. That is exactly what they are doing and expect. ZERO subsidies to business! We already do that on a massive scale nationally, to be doing it locally as well.

    2. You are at the mercy of the unanimous quorum decision of the Princeton Parking Task Force. So be it Taxpayer! Representation without taxation and “self-funded”perks for all except the residents paying the bills.

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