An ordinance proposed by City Councilman Steven Fulop that would revise the city’s parking regulations has been withdrawn temporarily until the executive director of the Parking Authority can address the council about it.
Fulop, who represents the city’s downtown area, put forward the measure at the council caucus on Nov. 23 to address a variety of parking issues based on constituents’ complaints. But the ordinance was withdrawn at the caucus, according to Fulop, to allow Parking Authority Executive Director Mary Spinello to address the council at the next caucus on Monday, Dec. 14 at 5:30 p.m. in City Hall.
Fulop’s sweeping proposal would revise guidelines for placing a “boot” on car wheels, and would shorten hours that commuters can park in town, so that residents will have more spaces open to them after work.
“I am happy to see this moving forward.” – Steven Fulop
“I am happy to see this moving forward,” Fulop said. “While it’s frustrating sometimes the rate that government moves, the most important thing is that these issues get corrected.”
Spinello said last week that she wants to discuss the ordinance further, as she was sent the printed copy on the day of the council meeting. She could not attend the meeting because it was the same day as the Parking Authority’s monthly board meeting. Spinello also said that she has been away for most of the month on her honeymoon.
Booting on even footing
Fulop has worked for over a year to get the booting guidelines changed after complaints from many of his constituents, some of whom he says are threatening to sue the city over what they call “draconian” and “illegal” parking policies.
His proposed ordinance calls for a boot to be placed on a vehicle after three parking tickets are unpaid, rather than for just a first-time parking offense. In Jersey City, residents get a residential parking permit only for their zone in town. They may want to travel to another area and are not sure it’s in their zone. In some parts of town, they can get booted for a first offense if they stay in the wrong zone for more than two hours. Fulop would make the three-ticket minimum universal across town.
There are 12 parking zones in Jersey City.
The boot is a steel contraption locked around one of the tires of a person’s car, making it impossible to drive. The boot can also be given for parking for more than two hours on a street zoned for two-hour parking.
The Jersey City Parking Authority (JCPA) issues a $42 ticket when they boot a car. In order for the boot to be removed, a driver also has to call an automated collector and pay the $110 fine over the phone without benefit of a traffic court hearing.
Fulop’s ordinance allows residents to make more parking errors before they get a boot. In addition, it says that if a motorist is found not guilty of a parking violation by a Municipal Court judge, he or she should automatically get a refund of the $110 booting fee by the Parking Authority.
The Parking Authority already will refund the $110 fee if someone is found not guilty, but the Parking Authority board has to have the paperwork submitted to them and then make a determination. Fulop’s change would make it easier to get the refund.
Regarding the $42 ticket, residents already can get that dismissed in court.
“The Parking Authority from my standpoint has wronged a lot of people over a long period of time,” Fulop said.
Fulop also includes a provision in the ordinance stating that a vehicle has to be moved a minimum of 500 feet to reactivate the two-hour time limit. Fulop explained that many residents move their car to another side of the street or the next block before their the two-hour limit is up to avoid a ticket and boot, only to be penalized by Parking Authority officers for still being parked within the zone longer than the permitted two hours.
Fulop said that by putting the distance into an ordinance, people will know how far they have to move their car.
Spinello said that this provision has to be clarified further. “How do the Parking Authority officers measure 500 feet?” Spinello said. “We need to make that clear.”
Giving parking back to residents
Creating more on-street parking for residents, who often find themselves without parking when they come home from work, has been a city-wide issue for years. In many zones in town, parking is restricted to vehicles with residential permits from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., then unlimited for the rest of the evening. Thus, residents who have residential permits will have to compete with people without permits for the rest of the night.
Fulop said extending the expiration of permit parking to 7 p.m. would allow residents coming home from work in the early evening a better chance of finding on-street parking.
Fulop also intends to shorten monthly parking permit zones from the present hours of 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. A monthly permit is usually obtained by those who work in the monthly permit zones, as many of the zones are also located near municipal and county government offices, or they are used by commuters. Those permits are $125/month.
Fulop would like to cut monthly permit parking hours to 5 p.m., so residents can come home and avoid competing with commuters.
One such zone is Columbus Drive from Marin Boulevard to Hudson Street. Cutting the hours would allow those without a monthly permit to park in those areas in the evening without fear of being booted, including patrons of the restaurants there.
The ordinance also establishes a four-hour residential parking permit to be used in most of the city’s zones, except for the monthly permit zones and zones for resident-only permit parking. Spinello said she understands that type of permit would be sought by residents wanting to shop or visit a certain area for more than two hours, but said clarification is needed for the timeframe of the permit, and how it will work.
If you move in
On a related matter, the council approved at their Nov. 24 meeting an ordinance requiring a seller or landlord in a residential building to disclose the availability of zoned parking permits prior to signing of a sale or lease contract.
Fulop said the purpose of the ordinance is to let new residents know their parking options. Many end up paying thousands of dollars more for a parking space in their building or at a nearby parking lot when it would cost only a couple of hundred dollars for a parking permit from the city.
Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.