Since Dalton began his tenure, in which the former Jersey City police officer earns a salary of $80,000 and works under a one-year contract with no benefits, he has met with City Council members and residents to discuss how he plans to tackle the various existing parking problems.
One of the major parking situations in the city that Dalton is proactive in dealing with is the city's zone parking.
In Jersey City, there are 10 parking zones, most of which are located in Downtown Jersey City near mass transit such as the Grove Street and Pavonia/Newport PATH stations and NJ Transit light rail stops. The zones are intended to ensure that residents and non-residents alike, especially those that work in the area, do not tie up parking spaces for long periods of time.
However, there have been complaints that the zone parking limits residents with a permit for one zone who cannot park all day in other zones unless they get new permits for them.
Last week Dalton spoke about his proposed changes to the city's zone permit program and other changes pertaining to zone parking.Changes to the zone
During the interview, Dalton emphasized that the changes are just proposals that he will make to the City Council at their next meeting on Dec. 14. Dalton noted that the City Council is responsible for passing the ordinance that creates zones in an area, and that the city's Traffic and Engineering Department installs the signs for zone parking.
The Parking Authority is responsible for enforcement.
"These are just proposals that I hope will spur more conversation and debate before they become law," Dalton said.
One of the changes Dalton is seeking to city's zone permit program is the extension of the hours for parking within the zone. In Zones 1 to 10 except Zone 8, parking is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with two-hour parking for residents and non-residents without a permit, and all-day parking for those with a permit.
But Dalton is seeking to extend the hours to 8 p.m., which he says will help free up parking for residents living in a zone or visitors.
"What you find is, many people take advantage of the zone parking hours by parking after 3 p.m., and technically their car is able to stay in that spot for the rest of the day, since the rules for parking in that zone end at 5 p.m.," Dalton said. "That creates a problem for people who live in the area who have to drive around looking for a spot, or for someone who wants to go out to a restaurant or visit family or friends."
Dalton is also seeking changes to the hours of two-hour permitted parking within a zone for those without permits. His proposal is a four-hour parking maximum for a city resident who does not have a permit, two-hour parking for non-residents. The all-day parking rule for those with a permit would remain the same.
He also plans to meet with residents living in Zone 8, which covers a 17-block radius around New Jersey City University, to discuss allowing two-hour parking only for city residents who do not live in the zone. From 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Zone 8 limits parking to residents who live within that zone. The price of permission
Dalton seeks to introduce some new rules to the city's permit program.
He looks to introduce a new $5 permit for city residents and $1 permit for senior citizens not living in a zoned area.
Then there is a proposal that Dalton believes will provoke some discussion - a fee increase for permits for non-residents employed in a zone, from $300 to $1,000. Dalton defends his decision for that increase.
"Let's say someone works 220 to 240 days a year and they pay $300 a year for a permit. That's a little over a dollar a day to park on a city street," Dalton said. "I think an increase is in order."
Also, Dalton proposes an increase in the fee for a non-resident city employee permit from $125 to $200, with the employee paying $100 and the city employer paying the other $100. What led to the proposed changes?
Dalton said that he has been considering the proposed changes to the zone permit program based on attending a number of neighborhood meetings in the five months that he has been at the Parking Authority.
Dalton mentioned at a recent City Council caucus that he had spent two and half hours answering questions at a Downtown neighborhood meeting.
And then there is the story of Carlos Hernandez.
Hernandez, a 20-year city resident, had lived on Second Street for 19 years but moved recently to Wayne Street near Baldwin Avenue. In September, Hernandez contacted the Parking Authority about being allowed to park in another zone near his job on Washington Boulevard, which does not allow street parking.
Hernandez felt he should be allowed to park in any zone in the city since he is a resident who works in the city as well. Hernandez recounted in letter that appeared in the Jersey City Reporter on Nov. 6 that he was issued a 30-day temporary permit to park in different parts of the city on Sept. 21 while Dalton studied Hernandez's situation to see if Hernandez should be issued a Zone 5 permit to park near his workplace. But in October, before the temporary permit expired, Hernandez was notified by Dalton that he would not receive the permit since his situation did not warrant a permit.
Hernandez has since spoken out in favor of re-evaluating the city's Residential Zone Permit Parking Program. Dalton agreed, but warned that Hernandez's situation could open up a "Pandora's Box" and set an unwelcome precedent.
"You know how many calls I get from people requesting that they receive an exception to the rules?" Dalton said. "And as for Hernandez, I am a lifelong resident of this city who doesn't live in a zone, and I wouldn't be allowed to park in his neighborhood for more than two hours, as he is requesting."
But Dalton did concede that his position as the Parking Authority director would allow him to park in Hernandez's neighborhood without a permit. Other possible changes
Dalton will also seek other proposed changes in the future.
Among them are breaking up Zone 2 into Zone 2A and Zone 2B, as the current zone encompasses two different areas of the city - Heights and Journal Square. Also, Dalton is looking to create more new parking zones around all light rail stations and considering what fee should be charged for those who own a car and rent within a zone, or who have moved into a zone but have their car registered at another address. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org