Realistic Hoboken Parking Solutions?

4/4/2011:

Bold action required to alleviate parking issues in Hoboken

Who will step up to the plate?

As you saw last week – Students from Stevens Institute are working with the city to try and improve the parking situation in Hoboken. Surveys and all sorts of other wacky so-called “analysis.”

And as I said in that story – I attributed the current problems to: “Poor urban planning for decades– allowing the city to grow without the appropriate amount of accessible & affordable parking throughout the city” – and I stand by that prognosis.

However – considering where we are NOW (actually) – what needs to be done to solve the problem?

Pipe dreams don’t solve parking problems – parking spots do

For your consideration – Hoboken411’s “off the top of my head” bullet points below:

  • High Effort – Low Returns: One of the current solutions at City Hall is to get you out of your car, into socialized transport. Mass transit, car-sharing, bikes, and what not. However, with all this effort, propaganda, and such – social conditioning will yield low results in people giving up the freedom of having their own cars – and will barely put a dent into the parking problems in Hoboken. It also fails to recognize that the more residents and businesses we have, the more out-of-town customers, friends and relatives that come to visit. The onus isn’t on the driver to “surrender” anything. Move on to something more realistic.
  • Recognize the playing field; stats: Here’s a simple way of looking at the whole situation. Hoboken’s population has grown 30% in the past 10 years. And don’t go citing statistics like how we had 70,000 residents “back in the day.” In those times, one car was good for an entire family, and many folks were considered lucky for owning a vehicle. Moving on – we need to identify the obvious issues (in no specific order):
    • We have 50,000 residents
    • We have tons of visitors (thanks a lot Cake Boss)
    • Not enough (easy, affordable) parking spots
    • The parking “garages” in buildings were built too small & expensive (poor urban planning)
    • Limited on-street parking
    • Most people will NOT give up the freedom of their personal vehicles

The haves and the have nots

  • Remember, we are not NYC: New York City has one of the best mass transit systems in the world. The subway system is massive – and despite rider complaints, a pretty damn good way to get around in that urban jungle. Hoboken, in contrast – is a mile square. For all intents and purposes – it is a walking city. I walk everywhere. Frankly, I don’t see the gargantuan need for “mass transit” within the city of Hoboken. Cabs and NJ Transit buses should be more than adequate for the times you’d want to use them (inclement, cold weather, etc.) We cannot install a decent rail system (like a trolley down the major streets) since they botched the Light Rail and shoved it in the back of town. It’s a bit too late for that.
  • City Hop Bus: (You know the one that got Parking Czar Ian Sacs Arrested) – while valiant in concept – just will not work, because of the infrequency (only every 30 minutes, and not 24 hours a day). And if you bombard the Hoboken roadways with these bulky vehicles (like Union City), residents and visitors will probably find reason to complain about congestion and sluggish traffic. The city recently released a statement proclaiming big successes for the Hop Bus, but if you do the math – it equates to around 100 passengers per day (out of 50,000) and apparently losing around $60,000 in taxpayer money. Great for seniors, but it appears that it’s not working out too well for the rest.

What can be done about all this?

  • Suggested SOLUTIONS: Painful, but in my opinion – realistic. Let’s see how you feel about these ideas:
    1. Moratorium on all large developments: Revise zoning ordinances to require five, heck, even TEN parking spots per unit. Make 50% of the spots “affordable” (i.e., $100 a month). This would naturally reduce developer short-term profits (i.e., ROI, before they can flip it to another investor), but it does not take away profits altogether. I listed this as the top idea – because the over-development is likely the primary cause for the parking problem in Hoboken. “Nip it in the bud” NOW – before your available options become impossible as they dwindle.
    2. It’s NOT all about Parks: Many residents in Hoboken clamor for “more open space.” Sure, that’s ONE of the top issues in Hoboken – but it’s not the ONLY one. Consider the (remaining) open space we have left in Hoboken. Figure out a way – to divide whatever it is up into three categories: Open Space, Development, and PARKING. Reject any developer proposal that doesn’t have ridiculously ample (and affordable) parking options. Seriously – make it a requirement by the city – that in order to get your project approved – that certain criteria must be met (% of parking, at a set – and affordable – price). That can easily be attained via city ordinance.
    3. More robotic garages? Hoboken has one robot garage in town. I’m guessing it takes up the space of about 8 brownstone apartments. There are several spots in town that could house a giant garage (the Mercury lot is one of them). If those operations are so great – why aren’t we trying to find more places to install them?
    4. More garages (and lots) in general: Even if it’s not a robotic garage, there are plenty of spots in Hoboken the city can take over to build residential parking. Even if it’s as small as 30 parking spots. Not every parcel of property needs to be built for maximum profit Quality of life in Hoboken has a value as well.
    5. Or, expand existing lots:: There are a few lots that could be built up to expand available parking by up to 5x the current capacity. One big lot downtown (by the PATH), and others – such as behind the Monroe Center, etc. A way to allow quick up-scaling of these flat lots should be explored ASAP as well. You can also add street-level retail space to them if need be.
    6. Simplify existing garage parking: As mentioned in a previous article back in December (Hoboken Complicates Parking) – the current municipal garages have “plans” as complicated as your cell phone bill. You want people to use it to capacity? Lower the price – and keep it simple. No time or day regulations, just set rates for daily, weekly or monthly and watch the fill-rate explode.

Do YOU have any “real-world” solutions?

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14 Comments on "Realistic Hoboken Parking Solutions?"

Hobokant
Member
Hobokant

Here’s a reasonable yet unrealistic solution – limit the # of residential parking permits to the number of residential on street spots available on Hoboken streets. How to implement this? Due to the corruption around these parts, a lottery may seem like bad idea.. maybe first come, first serve? (imagine the lines at city hall on that morning!)

If you don’t get a pass, you either pay for a garage spot, or buy a spot off a Hoboken resident who has a spot to sell. Can’t afford to/ can’t find a spot? No car for you in Hoboken!

bmacqueens
Member

Dutch auction, I think is the word for the technique that would work. (Wall Streeters, if I have the wrong type of auction, please correct the terminology.) Start the bidding higher than the target price. Price goes down incrementally until there is enough demand to snatch up every last space.[quote comment=”205337″]Here’s a reasonable yet unrealistic solution – limit the # of residential parking permits to the number of residential on street spots available on Hoboken streets. How to implement this? Due to the corruption around these parts, a lottery may seem like bad idea.. maybe first come, first serve? (imagine the lines at city hall on that morning!)If you don’t get a pass, you either pay for a garage spot, or buy a spot off a Hoboken resident who has a spot to sell. Can’t afford to/ can’t find a spot? No car for you in Hoboken![/quote]

homeworld
Member

If more parking garages are needed, then why isn’t the invisible hand of the free market constructing them?

Also, when you drive a car you’re involved in a “socialist” form of transportation, as well. Those roads are constructed and maintained with public money.

rw
Member

‘socialized transport’ is an interesting way of looking at mass transit, especially when you’re looking for the city to subsidize parking spaces. Dismissing new solutions as ‘propaganda’ or social conditioning is kinda silly – many people move here because they want to live in a city and car payments, insurance and maintainance costs aren’t their idea of personal freedom.

I know it’s a theme of this site that there’s too many people in Hoboken, but what’s done is done, and if you’re driving and parking in town, you’re making it harder for others to get around. That’s a cost imposed on the rest of us, and it’s something you should play for – parking should not be free or cheap here.

With mass transit you’re conflating a few issues – getting around Hoboken isn’t a big problem, mostly because the town is small and you can walk. Getting in and out of Hoboken – particularly when you are going elsewhere than Manhattan or JC – can be a problem. I see two issues here: First, people that don’t work in Hoboken/NYC/JC probably need cars to get to work. It’s easy to get out of Hoboken, but might not be viable to get into their workplace through mass transit. Second, people that visit on the weekends have a harder time getting here. When I visited Hoboken from central NJ before I moved here, it took almost twice the time on the weekends because connections on NJT/path take much longer.

Alpuj
Member
Building up the parking lots near the PATH would only increase traffic in and out of Hoboken along Observer Highway. Of course, if you are ok with that consequence then I guess more parking lots are the solution. Also the surface parking lots near the PATH are privately owned. I would think that the current owners aren’t about to turn their land over to the city for city owned garages, and it might not make financial sense for them to convert their parking lots into a multi-story garage. A parking garage generally costs around $15K per spot to construct. Plus the fact that the current lot would have to be closed during construction thats a ton of money to have to put up for a parking lot. I commute every day in and out of Hoboken by car. I get back home anywhere from 6pm to 10pm based on my schedule. I’ve lived downtown, midtown (west) and midtown right near Washington. And I have never not been able to find a parking spot. Sure you may have to drive around a few laps. Sure you may end up parking 3-6 blocks away. But 6 blocks isn’t that long. In fact its probably closer than most people park when they go to a mall. Also, I know this site tends to only criticize the transportaion and parking department but I love the fact they they now have Saturday hours (great for visitors to pick up passes) and an interactive map of… Read more »
MVF
Member

Anybody know what the deal with the lot on 15th and Hudson is? There never more than 5 cars in there and easily 100 spaces.

bmacqueens
Member

The big one b/t Wash & Hudson is owned by Toll Brothers. That is going to be a building someday.

The one across the way, closer to the river – dunno.[quote comment=”205319″]Anybody know what the deal with the lot on 15th and Hudson is? There never more than 5 cars in there and easily 100 spaces.[/quote]

MVF
Member

The one closer to the river was the one i was referring to, I suppose i overestimated the # of spots, looks closer to 60 spaces. I was thinking since it’s always empty I could work out some kind of deal with the owner.[quote comment=”205344″]The big one b/t Wash & Hudson is owned by Toll Brothers. That is going to be a building someday.The one across the way, closer to the river – dunno.

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homeworld
Member

They stopped using all of the lots when they built the garage. There are test piles all throughout those surface lots now.

A friend of mine parked in that lot once, stupidly, and they charged him over $400 to get his car back. Robbery. [quote comment=”205379″]The one closer to the river was the one i was referring to, I suppose i overestimated the # of spots, looks closer to 60 spaces. I was thinking since it’s always empty I could work out some kind of deal with the owner.

[/quote]

bmacqueens
Member

BTW – if you go back to about 2003, that was surface parking for the Tea Bldgs. before they became condos and before the Tea complex’s garage was built. That used to be parked full with cars.[quote comment=”205344″]The big one b/t Wash & Hudson is owned by Toll Brothers. That is going to be a building someday.The one across the way, closer to the river – dunno.

[/quote]

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