Realistic Hoboken Parking Solutions?
Bold action required to alleviate parking issues in Hoboken
Who will step up to the plate?
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?