Other parking alternatives need to be pursued by officials in Princeton

To the Editor:

I’d again like to make some comments regarding the Princeton Permit Parking Task Force and the odyssey that we, the community, have all been swept up in during this past year, due to their efforts and actions.

I’d like to preface this by stating that I can only imagine how crushing it must be at times to be dead set on something – put in the time and work on it – and then have it met with mass criticism, opposition and unpopularity. On this, the Princeton Permit Parking Task Force members have my sincere empathy. I’ve been there in my own endeavors.

With that said, it is vital, for the Princeton Permit Parking Task Force to actually listen to their constituency and not simply dismiss their concerns; confident their own opinions are 100% correct – thus medicine that must just be accepted. I would ask them to consider the tremendous strain their efforts have put upon many in the community, who have felt under siege throughout this past year. One would think that with so many residents making their views and concerns known directly at meetings, as well as in public forums and letters, that some heed would be paid, and that the Princeton Permit Parking Task Force would have taken these strongly expressed concerns into account. Instead, it appeared that the task force members were exceedingly dismissive, stubbornly entrenched in their ideas, and determined to do what they pleased. They have demonstrated this repeatedly, through a lack of transparency and with a seeming vested interest in favoring the desires of businesses over residents – all culminating in a decided disinterest in these expressed concerns. Their efforts to push through with their plans during times when people were generally away – distracted in the summertime, and recently during the holidays – optically appear exceedingly disingenuous.

While it’s refreshing to finally see that some effort has been made in response to the overwhelming push-back, it is still troubling and not nearly enough. At best it needs more work via actual concerted input from concerned and engaged residents; at worst it should be scrapped and begun anew with a fresh, more transparent process and outlook that engenders trust. The fact that the plan continues to include complicated conditional rules which charge residents for permits to park on their own streets in their own neighborhoods is simply a non-starter and needs to be scrapped. Something simple and all-encompassing for the already over-extended taxpaying resident along the lines of, say, two gratis street permits per household, is what’s in order. It’s unacceptable to set a precedent of granting businesses permits to park on residential streets. It’s inappropriate to view residential streets as a resource to solve businesses’ obligation to provide parking for their employees. Resources like the downtown parking garages and the Westminster Choir College are appropriate and should be vigorously pursued, and the residential streets should left to be just that…residential.
There is more to be said and considered.  Many letters are out there and are still coming in. I strongly urge the Princeton Permit Parking Task Force to read them and truly give them the respect and consideration that they are due.

Bruce Lawton
Hawthorne Avenue


  1. Bruce Lawton takes facts, applies logic, shows political sensitivity, and comes to a conclusion that seems to be beyond the grasp of the Princeton Parking Permit Task Force. This is the result when a task force is composed primarily of people who want to solve a problem that they should take responsibility for and push the inconvenience of the solution on to the shoulders of those who are not on the task force. For far too long parking obligations of commercial development in Princeton have been waived or reduced. The chickens have come home to roost.

  2. I agree. Pushing agenda through without considering public opinion while claiming to represent the public and telling us we are free to vote at the next election is abhorrent. The task forces and council members repeatedly calling residents “hysterical,” spreading “misinformation” and being “vitriolic” is also not productive and downright insulting. How many times can that play be used? We should all worry when a unanimous conclusion or vote is the result without any dissent. Just think if the Supreme Court voted unanimously for each case. Princeton needs to vote in thoughtful independent thinkers willing to listen. Rubber stamping ordinances bringing about PERMANENT change without considering how it will affect the town and residents has to stop.

  3. Yes, a town and residents under siege… from the marauding masses of retail and restaurant workers looking for a place to park. Give it a rest. I have never experienced a community that expresses such outright hostility to small businesses and their workers. It’s no wonder why Amazon vans and Grub Hub drivers are ubiquitous in Princeton and more small, locally-owned businesses are shuttered each year.

    1. Oh please. Developers over and over are given a pass when not providing parking. They are even applauded by elected officials and planning board members for providing no parking, because it will allegedly give people an incentive to walk or take mass transit instead of driving. Then the town turns around and says everyone park deeper into neighborhoods. It makes no sense to say one and then the other. Developers should have been paying into a parking bank all along when they couldn’t provide the required number of parking spaces. Instead they are charging high rents for spaces with no parking and they are laughing all the way to the bank. That money from a parking bank could be used to find better solutions like parking garages, lots, shuttles, etc. like in other towns. Also, many of these businesses can afford to pay for parking for their employees. Many businesses can’t afford the insane rents. The landlords should charge what the market bears and not hold out for Fifth Avenue rental rates. But all the developers in Princeton have been sucking up to the council and funding their election campaigns, so we all know whose opinion the council members care about the most.

  4. I believe the Morrisons and Siegels can well afford parking for their employees. Rent for a tiny storefront right on Nassau is $9,000 so businesses are making plenty. If Hermes is opening a store they must have studied profitability. Unfortunately businesses are taking advantage of younger workers and making them walk from residential street parking. You should take your demands up with your employers and not the families who frequent businesses and who have to find parking themselves. Proper planning would account for parking needed. Just wait until the new all the new construction goes up. The businesses are gathering to force a non-voluntary Special District (SiD) to collect money from all merchants. Maybe they can use the money toward their workers parking? I don’t think the taxpayers should be further burdened by councils poor planning. We have one of the highest tax rates (average $20,000) yet cannot seem to properly plan and budget. The council every year comes back to raise taxes on the 30,000 people living here and now the Board of Education would like $17,500,000 more. How about Princeton University paying its fair share of taxes instead of the university paying off select residents. In Princeton, where there are many smart people and urban planners yet persistent parking problems. It’s embarrassing.

  5. Taxpayers need to wake up and pay attention. The town buys affordable housing units in existing condo developments and then pays for improvements. One condo $170,000 and then almost $30,000 in improvements! Now they want to have residents each pay for their stormwater runoff to fund a stormwater team at $250,000 and $4,000,000 of stormwater work conducted by an associate of the administration and not as contractor awarded by lowest bid. Administrators make more than the positions for the state! The population of this small town of 30,000 has to foot the ever growing bills for every whim that pops into a council member or residents head. We need smart growth and sticking to a budget.

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