Public Princeton Council work session to discuss permit parking set for Jan. 11

The controversial plans for permit parking in Princeton will be discussed at a special Princeton Council meeting at 7 p.m. on Jan. 11.

Earlier this month, the Princeton Permit Parking Task Force abruptly changed recommendations for permit parking. A public meeting of the task force that was scheduled for the Saturday before Thanksgiving was canceled at the last minute after there was community backlash regarding the original proposed plan for permit parking.

On Dec. 6, the task force met and issued a press release outlining proposed changes to the permit parking plan. 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.

Under the revised proposal, 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. 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 because many residents had privacy concerns about the technology.

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. The police department receives an average of 10.7 calls per night requesting permission to park overnight. Police issue an average of 5.8 summonses per night for overnight parking violations.

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.

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.

It has still not been decided whether the meeting will be held via Zoom or in person, according to the public meeting notice for the special meeting. The meeting could be a hybrid meeting with both an option to attend in person and via Zoom or to watch via a live stream. In some other surrounding municipalities when meetings are now in person, residents can still watch the meetings via live stream or listen via phone and call in their questions.