The city will test a new metering initiative in the Northwest section of town after an ordinance was adopted by the City Council last Wednesday in an 8-1 vote.
The ordinance will establish that all visitors who wish to park on the street in the Northwest portion of town feed a meter with a 4-hour maximum time limit at rate of $1.00 per hour. Multi-space meters will be placed between Clinton Street and Jefferson Street on 15th and 16th streets, a section that the city has deemed an “emerging” commercial district.
The new initiative serves as a “pilot program” that will allow the city to determine the effectiveness of replacing permit parking signs with meters. Some members of the council feel that this initiative could ultimately lead to lining every city street with meter-enforced parking.
“There’s absolutely no credibility to the argument that metered parking dissuades people from coming to an attractive commercial district.” – Parking and Transportation Director Ian Sacs
Currently, only areas with a high concentration of businesses have multi-space meters. The majority of other streets in Hoboken are divided into two sides, which allow for resident parking or permit parking.
Resident parking, designated by a green sign, allows Hoboken residents with a valid parking pass to park for any amount of time. Resident parking is designated by a green sign with white letters, and is typically on the east side of streets.
Permit parking, on the other hand, allows those with a temporary, business, or resident parking permit to park for the duration designated by their pass. Permit parking also allows visitors to park for up to four hours, at no charge. However, if a visitor moves their car to another permit parking location, their four hours will continue tallying.
This means that a visitor cannot park within Hoboken for more than four hours at a permit parking sign, regardless of whether they moved locations. The permit parking side of the street is designated by a white sign with green letters, and is typically on the west side of streets.
Parking and Transportation Director Ian Sacs said during Wednesday’s council meeting that the current signage often causes confusion among visitors and residents alike.
“[The signs have] caused a lot of confusion and a lot of consternation,” said Sacs, during the meeting. “The meters [will] allow for the ability to clarify what the rules are, so that there’s not a misunderstanding about what the permit polices are.”
“Businesses in the area specifically asked for clarification of the parking policies because their customers were confused,” Sacs later said at the meeting.
Sacs also said that the new signs will say “Permit Parking Only, All Others Pay at Meter.” The meter will allow residents to pay for up to four hours of parking at a time each day. Those with a parking permit will not have to feed the meters.
“We’re pushing the city in a more progressive way when it comes to handling permit policies,” Sacs added.
Tim Occhipinti, the only member of the council to vote no against the ordinance, explained his apprehension with the initiative.
“I don’t like the message that it sends to the public,” said Occhipinti. “[Which is that] if you’re coming to Hoboken, you’re going to pay. I don’t think that it’s good for business. I don’t think it’s inviting people to come to the city of Hoboken to enjoy all the amenities that we have to offer.”
Occhipinti, like the rest of the council, agreed that changes should be made to the current system.
“I think clearly some changes need to be made,” said Occhipinti. “I don’t sit on the Parking and Transportation Committee, and unfortunately none of them asked what I think needs to be done.”
Occhipinti added that a “systemic review of the parking policy” would be the best method to approaching a revision of the current system, which would include professional studies and asking members of the public.
“Maybe some of this stuff is being done, I just don’t know because it hasn’t been communicated to us whether it is or not,” Occhipinti continued. “I’m kind of in the dark here.”
Sacs said that indeed, studies and measures have been taken to revise the policies.
“There’s absolutely no credibility to the argument that metered parking dissuades people from coming to an attractive commercial district,” said Sacs. “It’s actually the opposite.”
Sacs further explained that meters encourage turnover of vehicles, which allows more cars to find parking.
“What we do is based on industry standards and [based] on what has been proven,” added Sacs.
Sacs said the initiative, which will require the purchase of bonds in the amount of $200,000 to fund the new meters, will record data from users over a 180-day period.
“We basically get real-time data back from the meters,” said Sacs, “so we can watch on a day-by-day basis what the activity is. Within six months, we should have an understanding.”
Sacs also said that the multi-space meters that were recently installed around town will soon have the ability to accept “Smart Cards,” which are used by PATH riders daily. The meters currently accept change and credit cards. Unlike credit cards, however, Smart Cards would not require authorization.
“We’ve done most of the technical operations and expect it in the next month or so,” said Sacs.
During Wednesday’s council meeting Councilman Michael Russo said that if the initiative were successful, he would support city-wide metering for visitors, rather than a four-hour parking limit free of charge.
“For nine years I’ve been advocating [placing] meters across the city,” said Russo. “I think in the long run it will actually reduce a lot of the confusion, and it will reduce a lot of the staffing down at the parking utility.”
“I think this is something that is going to move the city forward,” added Russo.
Councilwoman Theresa Castellano echoed Occhipinti’s sentiments that she would be against placing meters across the city.
More parking in the southwest
An ordinance was unanimously adopted by the council Wednesday to create more residential parking spaces and more metered parking in the southwest portion of town. That metered parking is not part of the initiative and will carry a two-hour maximum, as is present in the rest of the city.
The ordinance also calls for the placement of a Route 87 bus stop at Jackson St. and Observer Highway, according to Occhipinti.
Sacs and Occhipinti said that Jackson Street, which is the first inbound street into the Southwest portion of the city, will now include parking spaces.
“That segment [of Jackson Street] practically has no parking,” said Sacs. “When you have on-street parking, you narrow [the street], which increases perceived risk, and causes a conscious desire to drive carefully.”
“The narrower the street, the slower they drive,” said Sacs. “We prevent that time and time again throughout the city.”
Stephen LaMarca may be reached at email@example.com.