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)