The City Council introduced legislation Wednesday night that may “bring parking back to the corners,” adding 850 legal parking spots citywide.
Also, seniors who park in the Midtown municipal garage located near Hoboken University Medical Center are about to see a drastic decrease in their monthly parking rates after the council adopted an ordinance lowering fees for seniors from $185 to $120 for that specific garage.
“It’s been on the back burner longer enough,” said 3rd Ward Councilman Michael Russo, the sponsor of the legislation.
“It’s been on the backburner long enough.” – Councilman Michael Russo, speaking about parking discounts for seniors
The measure was approved by a 5-2 vote, with Mello and Councilman Peter Cunningham voting no. Mello said he would have supported a discount more in line with the other garages, percentage-wise.
Council President Ravinder Bhalla and Councilwoman Theresa Castellano were absent from the meeting.
Parking coming back to the corners?
Cunningham introduced an ordinance that would legalize parking closer to corners in Hoboken. With the implementation of a new, late night parking enforcement shift, residents and town visitors have been sounding off about the frequency of parking tickets, and about not knowing how close to park near street corners.
Currently, under state statute, parking is not permitted within 50 feet of a crosswalk, which allows a clear view for drivers to see pedestrians about to cross the street. However, recently passed state legislation from Assemblyman Ruben J. Ramos Jr. (D – 33rd Dist.) allows municipalities to adjust the parking restrictions near corners.
The ordinance, as introduced, establishes “extended parking zones.” The extended parking zones on Hoboken’s mostly one-way streets would allow motorists to park within 25 feet before a crosswalk, or 15 feet after passing a crosswalk. The extended parking would be allowed only between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
The city is not required to install any markings or signs, leaving it up to drivers to determine if they are within 25 feet of a crosswalk or 15 feet from an “outbound” crosswalk, according to the ordinance.
A public hearing will be held on the measure at the Jan. 18 council meeting before it can be adopted.
Cunningham said that the measure should add approximately 850 legal spots.
Temporary appropriations approved
The council approved a temporary budget on Wednesday night, which takes the city’s operations up until March 31. The council hopes to have the budget for calendar year 2012 adopted by the end of March.
Finance Director Nick Trasente said the temporary budget is for 26.25 percent of last year’s budget, meaning approximately $26 million.
Last year, the budget was not adopted until July. Mayor Dawn Zimmer’s opponents on the council had a 5-4 majority for the first six months of 2011 and tried to return the city’s entire budget surplus to the taxpayers. Zimmer and her allies wanted to keep the surplus to enhance the city’s bond rating and for spending in emergencies. Zimmer’s allies eventually won out, getting the budget adopted after Councilwoman Jen Giattino, a Zimmer-backed candidate, was sworn into office in July.
More parking news and other matters
• Councilman Tim Occhipinti asked Parking and Transportation Director Ian Sacs about the possibility of allowing visitors to purchase temporary parking permits at the multi-space parking meters. Currently, only residents can purchase temporary permits for visitors at City Hall after proving their residency, and only during hours in which the Hoboken Parking Utility is open.
“Everything is possible,” Sacs said. “However, the muni-meters were set up to be responsible for the collection of fees for parking for a specific policy.”
Sacs said he worried that if temporary parking passes were available to everyone, “you effectively turn Hoboken into a commuter parking lot, which is exactly why we established the parking permits to begin with.”
Last year the council approved funding for a new program that would allow residents to purchase parking passes online. Sacs said that he hopes to invite a group of residents to take part in the testing phase of the system soon.
• As part of the discussions about the garage discount, Sacs provided an update on the Corner Cars program – a car sharing service run by Hertz that puts cars on Hoboken street corners available for rent. The original concern was that the 42 new cars would take up spots on the street. Sacs said that the program has resulted in 98 residents surrendering their parking permits, meaning the program has freed up more than the 42 spots it uses.
• Council President Bhalla was absent from the meeting because his wife went into labor on Wednesday. Councilman Mello’s wife also recently gave birth to a daughter on Dec. 16.
• The city is still paying off costs from the 2011 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The council approved a $958 payment to the town of Harrison for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade from 2011. Neighboring cities in Hudson County, like Harrison, often offer their public safety departments to assist on St. Patrick’s Day. The parade committee has yet to announce a date for the 2012 parade, but Zimmer said she would only approve a Wednesday date. Traditionally, the parade has been held on a Saturday, but was moved because parade day has historically turned Hoboken into a citywide party on the first Saturday of March.
• Changes to the city’s food truck laws were tabled on Wednesday night. The proposed spike in fees and new enforcement methods will likely be voted on at a later meeting.
Ray Smith may be reached at RSmith@hudsonreporter.com