No vote yet on parking permits, but council members signal support during discussion

The governing body of Princeton is considering implementing a parking plan that would provide permits to residents with no driveways or limited parking. The plan would also try to meet the “unmet need” for employee parking for between 550 and more than 1,000 people who work at businesses in town.

At a work session of the Princeton Council on Tuesday night via Zoom, more than three dozen people weighed in on the plan during public comment. The five-and-a-half-hour meeting was attended by more than 180 people.

Business owners in town support the plan that would allow them to each receive up to 10 parking permits to park on residential streets in town, “underutilized meters,” and municipal-controlled lots. Permits would cost $30 a month.

The plan is unpopular with many residents. While most residents support the idea of giving permits to people without driveways, they oppose the idea of residents having to pay to park on their own streets in a town where residents pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation. Others oppose allowing employees to park in residential neighborhoods, arguing it will lead to more traffic and congestion and will encourage more people to drive rather than walk or take public transportation. Some said the fees that would be charged to businesses should be higher.

At the end of the meeting, council members weighed in and asked questions. No vote was taken on the parking permit proposal. A future date will be set to discuss the issue further. But council members seemed to signal their support for the parking plan or most aspects of it, in spite of opposition from residents, arguing that the move is necessary to promote a vibrant downtown with successful businesses. Residents countered that it should be the responsibility of business owners to pay for parking for their employees and that the cost of parking should be factored into lease negotiations with landlords, who charge steep rents to Princeton businesses.

The Witherspoon Jackson neighborhood, tree street area, and Jugtown neighborhoods would be the first areas where a permit parking system would be implemented. Other areas would be added later. Areas with the greatest opposition to the plan, including the Western Section, were eliminated from the original proposal last month but could be added at a later time.

Editor’s Note: This story will be updated with full quotes from officials and public comments \on Thursday.


  1. As I understand it, the plan does not provide 1,000 parking spaces to employees. The (rough) estimated demand for parking is 1,000 spaces, but the current plan only provides about 550 (I believe this number includes the Westminster lot, underutilized parking meter spots, and residential streets).

  2. I just want to clarify that the plan does not offer 1,000 employee parking permits – that was the potential demand based on our survey of employers. The maximum number of permits proposed at this time is a little over 500, with over 400 of those at underused meters and in off-street lots such as the Westminster lot.

  3. I’m against nepotism in government. How about thoughtful listening to residents and not just small businesses when plans are formulated.

    1. Amen. The Task Force’s proposal asks residents to give up quality of life to prop up already high rental yields and investor returns.  If businesses can’t afford to operate (which is not true, based on the merchant’ association own presentation on real estate trends in Princeton), then the landlords need to accommodate lower returns with lower rents.  Palmer Square is a prime example.  Residents helping to enrich Palmer Square and other investors under the guise of helping low wage workers needs to be better communicated.
      Sensible Streets has been doing what the Task Force has failed to do.  They have been using their own time and money to provide the notice, outreach and parking data that the Task Force has not.  Sensible Streets is a coalition of volunteers working on behalf of all residents, not just their own neighborhoods or self interests.  They are providing real data on impacts from legitimate safety and commuter studies, and presenting impacts which are well recognized and described by town councils around the country.  Finally, they are providing solution alternatives that have been deployed successfully elsewhere, which should be “piloted” first before residential neighborhoods are asked to bear the brunt of the burden.

  4. Yeah, let’s make it harder to find parking in a town that already has hard to find parking. Great idea.

  5. In the Council meeting Tuesday night, about the issue of parking in residential neighborhoods, 68% of the comments and E Mails were AGAINST the Task Force’s proposal.  What is also important to add is that several of the residents, who commented that they were in favor of the Task Force’s ideas, seemed to be under the impression that that was the ONLY way they were going to FINALLY get to be able to park on their street at all – which is of course not true at all.  This must be made clear. The Sensible Streets people, and all of us residents who are working so hard against the Task Force’s ideas, are very much in favor of making sure that those residents in the most impacted neighborhoods CAN park on their own streets and can do so WITHOUT paying a cent.  That is what we are fighting so hard for, for ALL residents of Princeton. So the choice for residents, between our proposal and the Task Force’s proposal, is: Do you want to be able to park on your street whenever you like for free with no limitations? OR – Do you want to park on your street with lots of restrictions, have to pay a lot of money for the “privilege”, and have to find spaces between and among business people who also can pay to park there – in front of your own house all day long if they want to? That is the actual issue and the question to be answered. If people had understood that, then I am sure the percentage of comments against the Task Force would have been even much greater.  And of course if there were an actual vote among all Princeton residents, and people really knew all the facts, the Task Force’s ideas would be toast.

  6. It is interesting to hear Western section residents, like Patty Kim on Boudinot, suggest to the council that the Parking Task Force should consider employee parking on Murray, Prospect and Princeton streets instead of on their Western section streets by saying that those “tree-lined” streets on the Southern side of Nassau are closer to businesses. This is yet another way that the Western section can reap the benefits from living in Princeton but escapes the community sharing of parking, pot shops and affordable housing developments.

  7. The Westminster spots are being considered by the high school for student parking and not employee parking. The Westminster spots are also considered temporary depending on what happens with Rider. The BoE also wants to purchase Westminster because the taxpayers have limitless budgets and can pay for all of the big wants of council and BoE. Pay attention residents.

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