November 24, 2021

Writing in Response to Sensible Streets’ Claims About Local Parking

To the Editor:

Recently, a “community organization” named Sensible Streets has been spreading half-truths, misinformation, and heavily edited videos that aim to scare Princetonians into rejecting our Permit Task Force’s recommendations to town Council. Sensible Streets’ false assertions and dirty tactics are par-for-the-course into today’s politics, but I hope fellow residents will see through the group’s well-heeled interests.

Sensible Streets claims that, “adding commercial parking creates narrower driving lanes with more traffic congestion and obstructed sight lines for cars and children.” However, parking on public streets is legal on almost every street in central Princeton. There are simply limits to the amount of time cars can park. By Sensible Streets’ reasoning all street parking should be eliminated. No birthday parties, church services, family gatherings, or funerals as the additional cars would make for an unsafe streetscape. In fact, some residents aligned with Sensible Streets argue for the elimination of all on-street parking for public safety and environmental reasons.

Sensible Streets also claims that parking in front of your residence would be leased to companies like Lululemon and Starbucks, and even suggest on their website that there will be dedicated spots with signs. This claim is an outright falsehood! The folks behind Sensible Streets (they don’t publicly state who they are) want you to believe that the big corporations will benefit from the parking plan and pay their employees less as a result. However, limited low-cost parking permits would primarily help employees of local businesses like Labyrinth Books, Small World Coffee, jaZams, Olives, Mediterra, Corkscrew Wine Shop, and many others. All of these businesses are locally owned and operated and their owners pay significant taxes to the municipality (some for both their businesses and homes alike).

I live in the Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhood and for as long as I have lived here we have been welcoming workers, contractors, church-goers, shoppers, vacationers, and all those who want to experience the richness of this town we love. Most of us in this neighborhood understand that the asphalt in front of our house is not our own personal property. We have been sharing it for decades.

I simply ask our friends and neighbors in other parts of town to consider the Task Force recommendations on how to better share the publicly-owned asphalt adjacent to their property. In the end, I believe the proposed program will bring more equity and harmonization to the mess that we currently call parking in Princeton.

I hope fellow residents will take the time to read the Task Force’s answers to common misconceptions at the municipal website:

Frank (Dean) Smith
Maclean Street