December 8, 2021

Permit Parking Task Force Revising Recommendations In Response to Feedback

By Anne Levin

Having encountered strong resistance from some corners of the community to its initial ideas for solving the town’s parking issues, the Princeton Permit Parking Task Force (PPTF) has been working to revise its recommendations. The task force intends to present the revamped proposals to the governing body “in the coming year,” according to a press release.

Electronic license plate readers, labeled an invasion of privacy by some residents, are not part of the new proposal. Houses with no driveways in the Tree Street and Witherspoon-Jackson neighborhoods would be eligible for one free permit for on-street parking. A second permit could be purchased for $240 a year by these residents, or those with driveways accommodating a single car.

Bank Street, where there has been three-hour free parking, would allow resident permit parking only. Bank Street residents without driveways would get one free permit per household.

“The concept of community outreach and participatory government is to hear and process the feedback from the community, while striving to strike a balance between all parties’ goals and desires,” said Councilperson Michelle Pirone Lambros, in the release. “We are working with the PPTF and with community leaders in all neighborhoods and throughout the business district, to listen and work toward solutions that consider all parties’ interests.”

Additional Councilmembers on the task force are Councilmember David Cohen and Council President Leticia Fraga. Residents of different neighborhoods, the police, and local merchants are among others serving on the committee.

Formed three years ago, the task force recently ran into opposition from residents, primarily from the Western Section, who feared their streets would be clogged with cars parked by daytime employees of downtown businesses. As a result, a work session scheduled for a Council meeting last month was postponed. The new recommendations do not mention parking in the Western Section.

“When the PPTF was initiated by mayor and Council back in 2019, it had as its primary goal to give residents the ability to park on their streets in neighborhoods

that are particularly impacted by competing pressures: homes that lack driveways, and businesses with patron and employee parking needs,” the release reads. “A secondary, albeit important goal, was the harmonization of the patchwork of parking regulations, remnants of consolidation of the borough and township.  A tertiary goal was to better manage employee parking throughout these neighborhoods.”

Residents of all parts of town where overnight parking bans exist would be able to buy an overnight parking permit costing $5 for a 24-hour period, limited to no more than 30 days in any given calendar year. This would allow for guests, and other conveniences as needed, and help take care of the need for residents to call the police department every time they need overnight parking. In 2019, the police department handled 3,939 such calls, and issued 2,123 summonses for violations, according to the release.

Construction or commercial service vehicles would not have restrictions or need permits. No tickets would be given for those working at residents’ home throughout the permit zones and neighborhoods with time-limited parking.

All two-hour parking would be changed to three-hour parking, “to allow patrons more time to eat and shop in town, and for resident’s guests to visit,” the release reads.

For $30 a month, there would be a limited number of on-street employee permits available to independent small business owners for purchase, with daytime-only hours. They would be limited to no more than 50 percent of available spaces remaining after residents’ permits have been accounted for. “No employer who is obligated under the conditions of their land use approval to provide off-street parking will be able to purchase on-street of shared lot permits,” the release reads.

Most of the employee permit parking would be available through shared lot agreements, such as the agreement with Rider University for parking on the campus of Westminster Choir College. A total of 240 spaces are available in the combined Maclean and Westminster lots. More such agreements would be added as they become available.

Parking meters that are under-utilized would be made available for employee permit parking. A total of 177 have been identified.

“We hope to be adding other lots soon and plan to expand our transit options to convey employees and residents to many desired destinations around town,” said Lambros. “We are committed to better using existing infrastructure and services, and adding more as needed, but with affordability being a top priority, so that taxpayers are not additionally burdened.”