November 17, 2021

Turning Residential Streets into Parking Lots for Businesses is Unacceptable

To the Editor:

The Permit Parking Task Force is proposing a plan enabling employees of Princeton businesses to pay to park all day long on residential streets a half mile or less from downtown Princeton. In turn, the residents of those streets would also have to pay to park in front of their own houses (no matter their need, and despite the difficulty of now finding a space on their own, now crowded, streets). If you wish to raise your concerns about this plan, please attend the virtual community meeting at 12 p.m. on Saturday, November 20. The Zoom link is on the calendar.

No one residing anywhere in Princeton should have to pay for the right to park on the street in front of their own house, and that also goes for home repairers, landscapers, helpers, relatives. and visitors. We already pay astronomical property taxes. The Task Force’s proposed plan is extremely unpopular with residents, and there is no need for it.

In 2017, Princeton Council commissioned a professional study of parking in Princeton’s downtown by Nelson-Nygaard Consulting. They recommended against “Overspill” — i.e. parking employees on residential streets.

Their conclusions:

• There was plenty of available parking lot space in the downtown area for employees, customers, and visitors.
• Princeton Council should make arrangements with private parking lot owners to use their empty parking spaces.
• Other towns have successfully solved similar problems with such shared lot arrangements.

• The Sensible Streets organization ( also came to the same conclusions about available parking spaces.

To its credit, Princeton Council has arranged to lease 193 spaces from the Westminster Choir College. These spaces should eliminate the need in that area. The Task Force and Council should investigate other such arrangements. The spaces are there. Nelson-Nygaard found them.

Due to the ongoing COVID situation, we cannot currently, accurately judge future parking needs. Therefore we must wait, and not institute a plan until that is possible.

An idea: shuttle buses to and from the Princeton Shopping Center parking lot would be a convenient and practical solution. Employees could be safely delivered right to their work places, as well as visitors to the shops they wish to visit. No one would have to trudge many blocks in the rain, snow, heat, dark, etc., as they would if they had to park on residential streets as much as a half mile from downtown.

Through an anonymous survey, the Princeton Merchants Association requested 850 subsidized spaces. If the Task Force succeeds in putting such a subsidy program in place, business parking on residential streets in Princeton will become our reality, and there will be no putting the genie back in the bottle. Agreeing to this scenario, when Palmer Square owns two lots which sit at only 30 percent capacity during the week is, frankly, absurd. Why should taxpayers subsidize business, investor, and landlord profits by surrendering the sanctity and tranquility of our neighborhoods? It’s a quality of life issue, in which turning our residential streets into parking lots for local businesses and institutions is simply unacceptable.

Alice Artzt
Hawthorne Avenue