Princeton Parking Permit Task Force revises recommendations after public backlash

The Princeton Permit Parking Task Force has revised its recommendations for a new parking permit system in town and will present them to the Princeton Council at a public work session in January. The task force will disband after that meeting. The council is expected to vote on the recommendations in the first quarter of the new year, officials said.

A promised community meeting to discuss the original proposals that would have provided an opportunity for residents to ask detailed questions and express their opinions, and would have given officials a chance to clear up and alleged misunderstandings about proposals, was scheduled by the task force for the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving. It was abruptly canceled and was never rescheduled. Instead, officials chose to issue a letter to the editor and press release.

When asked why the meeting was canceled, Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros told Planet Princeton in an email on Nov. 22 that officials were all at the League of Municipalities convention down in Atlantic City and didn’t return until the day of the scheduled task force meeting. “There is a ton of work to do on this. We really just don’t have the bandwidth sometimes people might think we have. We didn’t even have time to finish the presentation, let alone look at all the objections and work on the counterpoints,” Pirone Lambros wrote. “We will definitely engage, and have been, but we shouldn’t have scheduled for the day we got back from the conference.”

Councilman David Cohen said in an email that council colleagues felt the task force wasn’t ready and his PowerPoint presentation was taking longer than anticipated to pull together.

The parking permit task force met on Monday, Dec. 6, and revised its recommendations, Pirone Lambros said when asked when the group revised the parking permit proposal. No task force meeting was listed on the municipality’s calendar. At a previous task force meeting on Zoom, Councilwoman Leticia Fraga said the task force is not required to provide notice of meetings because it is an advisory group.

Revised task force recommendations eliminate proposals to provide business employee parking in certain neighborhoods where residents were the most vocal opponents of the parking permit plan, including the Western Section and some streets near Princeton High School.

All residents town-wide will be able to purchase an overnight parking permit online or in-person for $5 for a 24-hour period, limited to no more than 30 days in any given calendar year, to allow for guests. Officials said the permit system will eliminate the burden placed on the police department to manage calls from residents for permission to have a guest park on the street overnight.

All permits will be issued online or in person, and purchases will be handled through the municipal clerk’s office. Officials scrapped the idea of using an electronic license plate recognition technology to enforce parking regulations. Many residents had privacy concerns about the technology.

All two-hour parking throughout all neighborhoods in Princeton will be changed to three-hour parking to give people more time to eat and shop in town, and so residents’ guests have more time to visit.

Permits will not be necessary for commercial service or construction vehicles, and parking enforcement officers will not ticket those vehicles when working at residents’ homes throughout the permit zones and neighborhoods with time-limited parking, officials said.

Under the revised parking permit proposal, residents in the tree street and Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhoods will be able to obtain permits to park on streets 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Permit parking in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood will be allowed on the west side of Witherspoon Street, and all of the streets along Witherspoon from Green to Birch.

Streets that will have resident parking in the tree street neighborhood and nearby include streets between Prospect and Hamilton Avenues — between Princeton and Murray Avenues on the south side of Nassau Street, and between Moore Street and Linden Lane on the north side of Nassau Street. Any resident without a driveway is eligible for one free permit. A second permit can be purchased by these residents and by those with single-car driveways for $240 per year. University staff members and students will not be eligible for permits unless they live on those streets.

Bank Street residents will also be able to park on their street, with one free permit per household if the household does not have a driveway. There will be no free parking or employee permit parking on Bank Street.

A limited number of on-street employee permits will be available to independent small business owners. These permits will be $30 per month and will only be available to business owners for purchase. The permits will only be available for daytime hours and be limited to no more than 50 percent of available spaces remaining after residents’ permits have been accounted for. Employers who are obligated to provide off-street parking to employees as part of their planning and zoning approvals will not be able to purchase on-street or shared-lot permits.

The majority of employee permit parking will be available through shared lot agreements, including an agreement with Rider University to lease parking spaces on the former Westminster Choir College campus. A total of 240 spaces are available in the combined Maclean Street and Westminster lots, officials said. Additional shared-lot agreements will be added as they become available. Officials also said underutilized parking meters will be made available for employee permit parking. They said a total of 177 metered spaces have been identified. All employee permits will be $30 per month.

“We hope to be adding other lots soon and plan to expand our transit options to convey employees and residents to many desired destinations around town,” Pirone Lambros said in the Monday press release. “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,”

The permit parking task force was created in 2019 to examine and come up with solutions for on-street parking for residents, and businesses with patron and employee parking needs. Another goal was to harmonize the town’s parking regulations.

“Our goal is to improve the balance to allow more spaces for residents to park on their own streets”, Councilwoman Leticia Fraga said in the Monday press release.

“The concept of community outreach and participatory government is to hear and process the feedback from the community, while striving to strike a balance between all parties’ goals and desires,” Pirone Lambros said in the Monday press release. “We are working with the PPTF and with community leaders in all neighborhoods and throughout the business district, to listen and work toward solutions that consider all parties’ interests.”


  1. Notice how there will not be permit parking in the old money western section of town. This task force has been influenced and biased just like the cannabis task force has been influenced by the cannabis lobby who “volunteered” members to have input to bring retail pot and consumption lounges to town. The town has also created a new position of Leaf Blower Code Enforcement Officer. What other ways can the council find to waste tax money. OMG

  2. Summary: employee parking is being pushed onto Princeton and Murray Avenues, by declaring them “tree streets”. The homes on the actual tree streets north of Nassau without off-street parking– built that way, historically more affordable, acquired at lower prices and with lower taxes paid — are bought off by a one-time windfall to current owners by providing them the ability to add two guaranteed parking spots for $240 a year. Downsides of course are it will significantly incentivize in-town car ownership, reduce walkability, and push house prices up for entrants in the longer term (cue the next affordable housing development to deal with the ‘sudden’ problem. Princeton and Murray Avenues, especially on the block closest to Nassau, and historically maintained by house-owners as the Borough’s green separating line to less congested residential areas to the south (where trolleys are taken down for sightseeing) become parking lots and take the loss in value when employees get to park out front for a dollar a day. And with that pesky barrier gone, and a precedent set of business concerns pushed into green neighborhoods, the densification and spread of the downtown can proceed apace.

  3. How corrupt can one Task Force be?
    Why are residents hearing about these changes on this forum? And this after you publicly insult residents, telling us we are hearing a “campaign of misinformation.”
    Ms. Lambros: how can you strive to “listen and work toward solutions that consider all parties’ interests” without in fact discussing these ideas in a public forum, with all parties present? And Ms. Frangia’s explanation is simply an excuse meant to hide the utter incompetence of the Task Force. Your methods of communicating with the communities most affected by these changes is and has been deceptive and symbolic of this Task Force’s corruption and ulterior motives. There are a multitude of issues that your half-baked “plan” will cause, but at least your interest in prioritizing businesses over residents is finally laid bare for all to see.
    You have yet again exploited the residents of Witherspoon-Jackson by solidifying our section of town as the dumping ground for free parking. John, Green and Quarry will now continue to be saturated as there is no method you’ve designed to ensure that the free parking on our street gets spread around. Now, with no parking or speeding enforcement (there never was), and with work vehicles working in town permitted to park in WJ for free, our streets remain overcrowded and dangerous for our children and residents. And your plan will also attract even more tourists, speeding through town to claim their free parking in front of our homes. How utterly disgusting and disrespectful of all of you. What happened to making business owners procure spots in the town parking lots? They’re never filled. And the Choir College spots? They should be given out first.
    Looking forward to voting against all of you.

    1. You are getting this information because the Council released a press release to Planet Princeton, as well Town Topics and the Patch – all local media. It was the most efficient way of letting people know they were responding to the community’s feedback. I thought that giving free permits to residents in Witherspoon Jackson would alleviate the problem. How can these tourists claim free parking in front of your homes if they need a permit to park there – that makes no sense. And the Choir College spots have been procured. Sure the plan wasn’t rolled out as smoothly as it probably should have been. But because of the community input, the Task Force revised and improved the plan. We as citizens ask people to take on leadership roles and then when they try and make changes, we don’t seem to appreciate them or give them the benefit of the doubt that they will listen to our feedback and make adjustments, as they did in this case.

  4. The public does not need to know about any task force meetings or be in attendance because they are “advisory only” yet the various task forces seem to be able to rule by unanimous quorum without holding a public meeting to truly hear all sides and allow residents to speak before the ordinances are written behind closed doors to miraculously appear at the final meeting before adoption by the council and mayor. Residents will then be allowed to speak for three minutes in opposition before the ordinances get rubber stamped and the public overruled. The premise of “because we said so.”They cancel the public meeting and release a press statement instead? Maybe a reporter could present a thorough investigative report instead of being the councils public relations arm printed the release word for word. It is outrageous how decisions are made without well-researched reports and studies presented to the public about how ordinances will affect Princeton and residents.

    More than 100 years ago the great journalist and pundit H.L. Menken observed that the “whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

    The council members on the task forces have a conflict of interest since the recommendations are one-sided and also subject to a vote by the same council members. Want the taxpayers to pay for my pet project? I’ll start a task force and lead it, no requirement to really listen to the public, recommend what I want and send it to council where I can vote and rubber stamp it myself! You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours next time to pass your ordinance paid for by the lowly taxpayer.

    Disgusted resident.

  5. Oh my God, this town. The laughable self-regard…pearl-clutching over parking spaces. The fact that Princeton University exists in the midst of a community so impoverished in terms of social responsibility is mind-blowing.

  6. Out of curiosity, I looked up the League of Municipalities and its conference this a.m. because I wanted to know more about it and what it is/does. The conference was over on the afternoon of November 18th two days before the meeting we were supposed to have to discuss the proposal. Also if I recall correctly from being on one of the meetings someone gave us a link to that was not on the calendar it was Ms. Pirone Lambros who suggested the date for the meeting. To then cancel it is a disservice to the public.

  7. Looks to me like Government by Press Release and Private Meetings. When the PPTF thought they could jolly the taxpayers with a dog and pony show “Community Meeting” they scheduled a meeting. When it appeared that there would be push back and there might be valid questions asked that they could not answer they cancelled the meeting, circled the wagons, had a private unannounced meeting, and issued a press release. Is there indeed a new report? Where does one find it? PPTF MEMBERS: If you can’t take the heat GET OUT OF THE KITCHEN. Listen to the taxpayers, reflect as best you can ALL of the articulated opinions of all of those who have spoken, and give the citizens the opportunity to ask you hard questions. If you can’t answer those questions, you have failed in your obligations to the Mayor and Council. Don’t go slinking away and cancel meetings at the last minute. Don’t pull the carpet out from under the taxpayers after you boldly rolled out the carpet for them to come and address you. MAYOR AND COUNCIL: You should not take up this matter until the PPTF has done a thorough job, heard those who want to express themselves, and written a thorough report reflecting all they have heard and answering intelligently and in understandable language all of the objections they have heard.

  8. What’s next? A pre-recorded message via Zoom. Could the “public” meetings, if they are held, be any more controlled by the council to silence any resident objections? No. Speak only when spoken to child and we always get the last word because public debate is no longer a thing.

  9. Thank you for getting straight to the point Jonathan. There are serious governance process issues within our town, which is evidenced by how unhappy folks are with the public communication and decision process. Our government is lacking transparency, not following basic due diligence, and lacking integrity in how they listen to the public in order to make policy decisions. Setting policy based on personal preferences, in favour of lobbyists or special interest groups at the expense of the majority of residents, while wilfully ignoring the public majority is not what elected officials in a democratic society are supposed to do. Using social justice and equity ideologies are a thin guise and a pathetic attempt to hide what actually drives your policy decisions. One must only think one layer beyond the Task Force’s (Cannabis, Permit Parking, Housing) proposed policies to see the inconsistencies between stated objectives and actual outcomes. In fact, your policies go against the ideologies you purport to uphold. Shame on you.

  10. Task forces are not providing well studied recommendations as stated. Instead unelected task force members (with questionable conflicts of interest) are writing regulations and ordinances, which is something our elected representatives are supposed to do on our behalf.

    1. But the Stop Wasting Tax Money Task Force members should be vetoed so there are no conflicts of interest, and is that going to happen? I doubt. We should ask the “mean girls”, the ones who run the show, the ones to choose who has to run and when, they have the final word and we all allow it.

  11. Next up: engineering consultants are inspecting storm drains to review whether Princeton should set up a storm water utility to establish a procedure for charging property owners for their stormwater runoff. More fees? It is Princeton after all. $400,000 for a new stormwater team and $4,000,000 in stormwater work. Someone has to pay for Princeton’s climate change initiatives. That would be the taxpayer.

  12. The task force should require that all of the 240 off-road spaces be exhausted before allowing a single permit for the merchants’s employees on any of the tree streets and/or Murray/Princeton/ Aiken/Patton/Prospect Avenues. Moreover, the merchants should prepay the collective cost of the 240 spaces upfront as this effort has been all about their interests.

    Murray/Patton/Princeton and Prospect are already under siege from the merchants employees/patrons near Nassua and the university employees /students near Prospect as a result of poor enforcement of existing regulations. Not sure why we have become the piñata for the Parking Task force.

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