May 19, 2021

Build More Housing To Solve Princeton’s Parking “Problem”

To the Editor:

Our elected officials have been working hard to figure out how to “solve” Princeton’s parking “problem,” specifically targeting the downtown labor force, as well as the high school students, faculty, and administrators.

The current thinking seems to be to manage the existing on-street parking supply around the downtown and the high school differently, with various types of paid permits, and to have the whole thing managed by a private, for profit vendor.

Why anyone would think that it is a good idea to provide more student parking is beyond me. So the entitled little darlings can spend another 15 minutes in bed, before tearing down our neighborhood streets in their late model Audis and BMWs? I don’t think so.

There is a stronger case to be made with respect to the school staff and downtown workers. And better managing the existing supply of on-street parking is certainly a superior alternative to building new parking lots. But it misses the point.

The demand for parking is a clear indicator of one thing: the lack of alternatives. People are driving because they can’t walk, bike, or take transit. And that is where we should be investing.

The reality is that most employees of our school system and of downtown businesses, along with our police department, fire company, etc. etc. don’t live in town because of preference, but because they cannot afford to. So those who can afford to own and maintain a car drive in. And park. It’s that simple.

And the way to change that is to create the zoning incentives that will encourage more housing that those who serve our town can afford, in and around the core, along with the infrastructure that will encourage them to safely walk and bike to their destinations.

It’s a self-regulating system that does not require private, for-profit vendors.

And, as a recent article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine makes clear, the public health benefits of investing in that non-vehicular transportation infrastructure far outweigh the costs. The result is a happier, healthier population and a healthier environment as well.

Carlos Rodrigues, Faicp
Moore Street