Princeton Parking Task Force’s proposed plan will have negative impact on residents

The Princeton Coalition for Responsible Development, or PCRD, is a non-profit organization that was formed to advocate for and enable a more effective and collaborative approach to land use development and redevelopment in Princeton. A significant element of land use development relates to parking in support of the community and development being undertaken in town. For this reason, PCRD supports the efforts of to make all Princeton residents aware of the negative effects of the Princeton Parking Task Force’s proposed plan to lease commercial parking spots in residential neighborhoods.

We are concerned that the town has granted variances to real estate developers without requiring the developers to assume the responsibility and bear the costs of addressing the transportation and parking demand created by their projects.  The planned development of the former Post Office into a 300-seat restaurant, with no associated parking, is but one glaring example. Another is the 80–space garage for the 180-room Graduate Hotel planned for Nassau Street.

We call on the Princeton Council to protect residential neighborhoods from bearing the burdens that current and new development projects create.  We are concerned that commercial parking for the new developments at the Princeton Shopping Center, Griggs lot, Graduate Hotel, Franklin lot, and Princeton Theological Seminary, to name a few, will create significant parking spillover into the adjacent neighborhoods.  The proposals recommended by the Princeton Parking Task Force will set a precedent that makes this outcome all but certain. 

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.  Thousands of town councils around the country have protected residential neighborhoods for residential use through zoning and parking regulations and have required developers to pay their fair share to ensure tenants and customers have ready access to their buildings.  One method that has proven successful is to grant a parking variance, but require the developer to set aside a certain amount of land in the form of a park, to be converted into parking if the project’s transit management plan fails to control spillover.  These are ideas that can help Princeton maintain its sense of identity as a highly desirable town in which to live, work, and visit. There are undoubtedly other approaches that would be effective as well.

In short, Princetonians need to educate themselves and participate in planning the town’s ongoing and future community-wide parking plans, lest they wake up one day to find their street converted into a town parking lot.

Jo Butler
Hibben Road

Ms. Butler is a former Princeton councilwoman.


  1. You know we will need to hire a Spillover Parking Code Enforcement Officer next.

  2. It seems to me that if there isn’t adequate parking to support the commercial development in Princeton that the town should look to develop the many surface parking lots and other vacant land with multi story parking decks. It would use less land for parking reducing the problems of increasing storm water runoff. It enables shoppers and employees to park closer to their destinations. It preserves more land for recreation, parks, and residential as well as commercial development. It avoids converting our residential streets to parking lots for commercial interests that have been improvidently granted exceptions from the sensible local requirements that such developments provide for adequate parking. To the question of how should it be paid for? Establish a special improvement district and levy on the commercial interests fees that would cover the costs that they would have incurred had they not been been given exemptions from the sensible municipal requirements that developments provide adequate parking for their employees, customers, and tenants.
    I know that many municipalities restrict parking in residential areas to residents of the area. Although I don’t claim to be an expert on parking, I have never heard of a municipality that sells parking spaces in residential neighborhoods to commercial interests for the use of their employees and customers, which in effect excludes residents from parking in their own neighborhood. Perhaps the Parking Task Force knows of such a place. I’d be interested to hear what the residents of that place think about it and how they reacted to it when it was first proposed

    1. We pay for parking at the train station, train tickets, subway fare, cab fare, taxes etc for our jobs. Of course we would like free parking and transportation to work too!

      Explain why Princeton taxpayers have to pay for employee parking, pay for lot agreements for businesses and pay for shuttle service for businesses. Yet you want $240 from a taxpaying resident for one car? Unbelievable to push spillover parking into our neighborhoods that we have to subsidize! That is really messed up thinking. Neighbors unite.

      Can’t wait for elections!

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