June 23, 2021

Parking Task Force Proposal Addresses Serious Inequities in Resident Parking Access

To the Editor:

I have been disappointed to see the pushback on the proposal put forth by the Princeton Parking Task Force, much of which ignores the fact that employees and customers are already parking on many residential streets. Because most of this on-street parking is in neighborhoods where many residents lack off-street parking — the Tree Streets and Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhoods — this “commercial” parking crowds out the residents of these neighborhoods from being able to park near their homes. Allowing limited on-street parking in other in-town neighborhoods will help alleviate the overcrowding on these streets.

It’s important to note that this proposal addresses serious inequities in resident parking access that have long existed. Living on Leigh Avenue without a driveway, I have access to two free 24-hour parking permits for my family. Throughout the former-borough portions of Witherspoon-Jackson, residents without a driveway haven’t been allowed to park overnight on the street at all. Those on Green and Quarry can’t even park on the street during the day for more than two hours. Overnight parking is available only in the McLean lot for a fee that is more than double what is proposed for on-street permits. And, there is a waiting list for those spots.

Even low-income residents living in affordable housing have had to pay for parking permits to enable them to access their jobs and other necessities. The Task Force’s proposal would reduce on-street parking fees for these residents, something I hope we can all support.

I admit I’m not 100 percent happy about the proposal. My free permits would be replaced by $120 annual levies for street access for each of our two cars that won’t guarantee me a spot near my home. They merely allow me to search for parking somewhere along the street, something that is often impossible to do in the evening during the dinner rush at my beloved neighborhood restaurants — Tortugas and Local Greek. Frequently, we end up parking in the Community Park lot and walking two blocks to get home.

The purchase price of our home was likely lower than the price of homes with long driveways though my property taxes are comparable to those of neighbors with off-street parking. Providing residents who lack off-street parking with on-street parking access won’t make homes less affordable but will enable residents of these homes to use a car to meet their families’ daily needs — without having to move out of town as a former Council member suggests they do.

I support this proposal because the inequities of the status quo harm many in our community. Many opponents to the proposal don’t want any on-street parking in front of their homes, but I remain hopeful that, as they learn about the inequities that exist and the negative impact those inequities have on their fellow townspeople, they will come to agree that providing a limited number of on-street permits for employees and residents won’t harm our town, but will strengthen its vibrancy.

Sarah Torian
Leigh Avenue