On-street parking on residential streets is free throughout New York City, which makes finding a place to park incredibly difficult in some neighborhoods, and provides an incentive for owning a vehicle. In a dense, congested city like New York, it seems counter-productive to allocate so much public space to cars without asking vehicle owners to pay at least something for it.
So far, efforts to implement a residential parking permit (RPP) program in New York have been thwarted despite advocates repeatedly calling for such a measure. But that doesn’t mean the conversation is over. Here are five reasons why the next Mayor should revisit the idea of an RPP program:
1. Everybody else is doing it. Certainly not the best reason to do something, but it’s worth noting that just about every other major American city has a residential parking permit program. Some of them even charge money for them. In Washington D.C. permits are just $35 a year for most vehicles registered in the District, while San Francisco, whose residential permits are the most expensive in the United States, charges $109 per year (30 cents per day). That’s still a bargain compared to what you’d pay for garage parking in New York City.
2. People are willing to pay for it. According to a recent study, about half of New Yorkers said they would be willing to pay $408 a year on average if it meant that finding parking near their homes would be easier.
3. It will reduce congestion. As Seinfeld‘s George Costanza famously said about parking, “Why should I pay, when if I apply myself, maybe I could get it for free?” Turns out, a lot of us are just like George. Drivers who are looking for somewhere to park account for 28 to 45 percent of traffic in places where on-street parking is under-priced (or in this case, free).
4. It will make streets safer. Because all those drivers who are “cruising” for a spot are preoccupied looking for an empty curbside space, they’re not really focused on pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles.
5. Because it makes sense. New York City has some of the most expensive real estate per square foot in the country, but for some reason the land right next to curbs is free. If a permit program were to be established for $20 a month (less than a fifth of the cost of a monthly unlimited MetroCard) and one million of the 1.8 million vehicles registered in the City purchased permits (even though there’s enough space for about four million vehicles in curbside spaces), the City would collect $240 million each year. RPP is also a progressive policy; in all but one State Assembly district in the City, vehicle-owning households earn at least 50 percent more than households without a vehicle. It would be especially progressive if revenue from parking permits were to be targeted toward transit upgrades and pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.