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.”