No Parking Slope

The B67 bus veers around a double-parked van blocking a car parked in front of a fire hydrant as a Bugaboo-pushing nanny strolls by Councilmember David Yassky and Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White calling for more sensible parking policy this afternoon in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Every drivers knows that it can be nearly impossible to find a legal parking space in the neighborhoods in and around Downtown Brooklyn but, until today, no one had ever tried to quantify the problem. No Vacancy (PDF download), a new study by Transportation Alternatives, finds that nearly half of all of the vehicles clogging the vital shopping avenues of Park Slope are occupied by drivers who are simply looking for a parking space. T.A.’s study, which riffs off the work of UCLA professor Donald Shoup, author of the acclaimed (and remarkably entertaining) High Cost of Free Parking, found that:

  • 94% of the area’s metered parking spaces are occupied with nearly 100% of spaces occupied at peak periods.
  • Nearly one in every six vehicles parked along 7th Avenue is illegally parked, with the rate of illegal parking rising exponentially as the curb fills.
  • Nearly two-thirds of local traffic consists of vehicles circling the block looking for parking spaces!

White says "When one in two cars is simply circling the block in search of parking, the curb is being mismanaged. This study shows that Brooklynites are suffereing from needless traffic and dangerous illegal parking that could be easily eliminated through inexpensive improvements like market-priced Muni-Meters and residential parking permits."

Yassky has been pushing the City to explore the possibility of a residential parking permit program for the neighborhoods around Downtown Brooklyn for three years now. Many believe that residential parking permits and better management of
curbside parking space could help reduce unnecessary automobile trips
into transit-rich Downtown Brooklyn. Jointly conducted by the Downtown Brooklyn Council, DOT and EDC, the residential permit study (PDF download) ultimately recommended not going forward with a residential parking permit program. The $75,000 study was one of the only concessions that the Bloomberg Adminsitration made to neighborhood groups during the extensive rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn.

27 thoughts on No Parking Slope

  1. BTW, did anyone see Paul from TA on NY1 this morning? Paul was looking mighty “Whyte” (that’s how NY1 spelled his name) with his focus on parking problems in the lily yuppie neighborhood of Park Slope. Focusing on Park Slope really makes TA look like limousine liberals of the worst type (I hate that phrase “limousine liberal” but damned if it doesn’t seem appropriate here).

    It’s interesting to know that something like 45 percent of the traffic in that neighborhood is local people crusing for a spot. I don’t see how raising the parking rates for muni meters on 7th avenue is going to change that though, since locals are looking for more long-term parking than that provided at metered spots.

    David Yassky was talking about a realistic solution though — neighborhood parking permits. Hopefully Yassky wants to see neighborhood parking permits in places other than Park Slope.

  2. One thing I learned about Park Slope’s might 7th Avenue while filming the “Parking Spot Squat” – the road is too wide! If they took back 5 feet on each side and gave it to sidewalk it would do away with the horrible double-parking – well at least some of it – and make the street more livable.

  3. Guess what, Spud? East New York doesn’t have a big parking problem.

    Parking problems tend to exist in neighborhoods with lots of shopping and business and in places where residents have the money to own cars.

    Just because the parking problems exist mostly in whiter wealthier neighborhoods does that mean we should stop trying to come up with solutions?

    But that being said, it’s totally inaccurate to call all of Park Slope lily white. Park Slope from Flatbush to 22nd and Fourth to Prospect Park is big and it’s still diverse despite the 35 year influx of money.

    Of course this campaign should be launched in brownstone Brooklyn. It’s a no-brainer. Bstone Bklyn is obsessed with parking.

  4. Spud, you forgot to mention the “sense of entitlement” that all “lily yuppie” residents of Park Slope are said to exude. No one bandying about hateful stereotypes and generalizations should forget that one.

  5. East New York doesn’t have a parking problem because following the abandonment and fires of the 1960s and 70s, the neighborhood has been rebuilt at greatly reduced housing densities. Each Nehemiah house (two-story, one-family attached rowhouse), has a car pad out front.

  6. Per Shoup, if residential permits are allowed, it’s important that at least a fair share of spots on side streets are also metered. Park Slope is a dense neighborhood (30k people/sq mile.) The delivery and service vehicles parking on side streets need somewhere to park.

    There are a ton of residential parking permit schemes. But most involve residents paying something to park. The idea is not to provide a free lunch for a privileged few, but to keep the curb spaceand traffic circulating.

  7. Pardon me if I used a stereotype. All I’m saying is that that piece on NY1 this morning made it seem like TA is a big group of limousine liberals (and this from a proud liberal — actually, it made it seem like TA is a small group, since Paul looked awfully lonely on that sidewalk). They have a very good PR operation but I don’t think this morning’s event is going to help them expand their base.

    I’ve had problems parking in East New York as well as Bed-Stuy and Brownsville before. But regardless of whether they have a “big” parking problem, we shouldn’t be shutting them out of parking in the Slope unless we’re willing to do the same the other way (regardless of whether the beautiful and diverse population of Park Slope wants to travel to those neighborhoods or not).

  8. JK, if you’re going to put some metered spots on the side streets, why not make all the spots metered and give those with permits exemption?

    And with regards to permit costs, it seems important that people pay for the size of their car. A Minicouper owner shouldn’t pay the same for a permit as an owner of a full sized SUV – may even inspire a hint of modesty upon the priveleged few.

  9. Wait, doesn’t the Times describe Park Slope as being composed mainly of aging hippies with graying ponytails wearing Birkenstocks and tiedyes? Or is that stereotype a few years old? I guess it’s pierced, tatooed, hipster parents now. Or is that Williamsburg?

    Anyway, I think parking permits are a good idea, but why not sell them to anyone willing to pay a good price for them? I don’t like the idea of local residents being more entitled to the space than people who work there.

  10. Complex issue completely muddled in this exchange. A little Shoup is a dangerous thing, drink deep or taste not of that spring.

  11. Seventh Avenue is becoming commercially unviable as a shopping street. I will go to Sunset Park, Boro Park, or almost anywhere else first.

  12. It is really disconcerting to hear people who post on this really smart blog so casually tossing around stereotypes. You sound like Entertainment Weekly caption writers, or reporters on the Times Styles pages. Stop yourself! To describe Park Slope or ANY Brooklyn neighborhood in such shorthand proves only one thing; you obviously don’t live there. I’m sure you’ve walked around and seen all the priviliged white people shopping with impunity — but weren’t you one of them? Nobody who lives in Park Slope shops when the tourists are out in force, friend.

  13. Re: parking permits. What happens during the day when some of the residents drive to work? Why not allow other people to park there? New Yorkers can drive on all New York City streets, why shouldn’t they be able to park on them? (Not for free, but the point is, why should streets belong to locals?) I still don’t understand the parking permits fixation. As for market-rate curbside parking – DUH!

  14. Given the fixed amount of available parking, awarding vouchers will just lead to hoarding and ridiculous entitled behavior.

    Obviously there is an easy market solution:

    Auction off bi-annual “residential” parking vouchers. Those who live nearby will certainly be willing to pay more.

    Proceeds can go to public transportation, or better yet, to supporting road maintainence, because this is NYC and having your car here is a luxury that my taxes pay for… Can’t afford it? Too bad, this is NYC.

  15. Fascinated. I don’t read the Style section. I must have picked up my stereotypes from the news sections. Oh wait, is it the Style section that occasionally runs those sneering articles about the Food Coop? Uptight, rule-happy organic food fanatics, that’s what the Slopers are!

    Bartles and Mike, market rate parking would certainly be better, but it will never sell. People in this part of Brooklyn, like elsewhere, are fanatics about their parking spaces and have a huge sense of entitlement about them. Permits are a way to feed their sense of entitlement but still reducing traffic. Once you get the surrounding neighborhoods to follow suit, everyone’s trapped. The best we can hope for is to push for a reasonable fee for the permits.

  16. MD: Thanks for taking my criticism with a grain of salt. The substance of what you say is smart, with the exception of the lazy stereotyping. People in Brooklyn have are fanatics about their parking spaces? What could that possibly mean? And we have a sense of entitlement? Yeah, that forced double-park for the street-cleaning days really makes me feel entitled. Circling the block for 45 minutes when I’ve made the mistake of using the car on a Sunday afternoon and all that’s left are Monday spots: now THAT’s a sense of entitlement.
    The sense of entitlement extends to EVERY group you can name in New York. As a daily bike commuter, I’d say that pedestrians have the most outsize sense of entitlement. And you could probably break that down by race and socioeconomic group . . . if you were so inclined.

  17. Back when I was chair of the Brooklyn T.A. Committee, I believe we used to use 1990 census data that basically said that only about 1/3rd (I think it came out to 34% or 35%) of all households owned a car in Park Slope/Brooklyn Heights/Carroll Gardens area.

    I know citywide the numbers decreased in 2000 meaning there should be even fewer car owners as a percentage.

    No comment here, just throwing that out there for people to bite on.

  18. MD: I agree with #16, that stereotyping isn’t helping. Who cares about the sense of entitlement? Let’s think of power- and there isn’t enough of a voter base to sway this issue, given bigger the fish (education, terrorism, stadiums in the middle of Brooklyn) to fry.

    I like the vouchers, but without a market mechanism, I see a repeat of rent control/stabilization and the subsequent problems in restricting housing supply. We haven’t been able to resolve that, so why create another monster?

  19. Clearly there are great complexities in bringing residential parking permits to NYC. You can see why the City doesnt want to do it. Politically easier is working towards a 15% curb occupancy in business districts. (Incidentally, why cant DOT just raise meter rates in areas where that would enjoy support, like the CBD?)

    Agreed there is no particular policy logic in only seeking curb vacancy on retail strips. Double parking, and commercial vehicles getting ticketed, on residential streets is clearly a problem in many neighborhoods.

  20. If you have a car in NYC, you have to resign yourself to paying for a place to keep it: rent an off-street parking space for (in the South Slope) around $250/mo., or invest a half hour or more driving around the neighborhood looking for a “free” curbside space. If you don’t need to use a car every day, Zipcar seems like a better option. I always thought a hop-on/hop-off trolley or, more practically, a shuttle bus running (much more frequently than the 67) on 7th Ave. between, say, Prospect Ave. and Flatbush, would go a long way to reducing private vehicular congestion while moving more local shoppers in and out. Or maybe the merchants on 7th and on 5th could get together (as a BID) behind a loop around 9th St.-5th Ave.-Union-7th.

  21. I’m not trying to stereotype anyone. Demanding the right to use public space and exclude others from it suggests a very strong sense of entitlement. Talk to local drivers, read the local papers, pay attention to what goes on at the community boards, listen to the local politicians pander to motorists, and the word fanatical might not seem so over the top.

  22. I lived in Park Slope for two years. In terms of a sense of entitlement, T.A. has nothing on the motorists who drive down Seventh Avenue. Clarence’s post has the right perspective.

  23. SUVs and minivans take up more space than regular cars. So there are actually fewer vehicles that can park per block than 15 years ago. That, and more residents have more money, so they have cars. And if you think parking permits are the answer, talk to someone in Hoboken.

  24. One problem I see living here is that there are all these fire plugs not in use that subtract 15 feet. Also then the lack of yellow curb painting to show how much fifteen feet is so people know not to waste space… My point is there is some wasted space out there
    Another thing is that there could be some increased service on the B71 across Union street that would encourage more people from other ‘hoods to MTA it. The fact that it stops running all the way across after 9:30 PM is just archaic..
    I am thankfull for the one day a week alternate side parking that is around my over privileged area.
    You gotta know how to PLAY or you must PAY.
    FYI: Garage Parking in the N Slope is around 400 a month.

  25. Thought I’d do my own informal study while walking the dog and selected a block at random (7th Ave. btwn 7th/8th, east side). Results:

    7 legally parked vehicles
    5 illegally parked vehicles (two double parked, two on top of a hydrant, and one expired meter).

  26. based on the caption, seems like people who aren’t white and walk around park slope must be nannies 🙁 grumble. that’s no good.

    also, is paul steely white asleep or meditating?

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