January 5, 2022

Council Members Respond to Concerns Regarding Permit Parking Proposal

To the Editor:

We want to thank Jonathan Hopkins for accurately quoting David Cohen’s statement regarding Princeton’s public rights-of-way. A fundamental postulate of the work of the Permit Parking Task Force (PPTF) over the past three years has been that these roadways, which are public property, are an asset that must be managed to benefit all members of the public, not just a select few who happen to live nearby.

To extend Mr. Hopkins’ helpful analogy comparing our roads to our public parks, we couldn’t agree more — just as Princeton’s public parks are open to all members of the community, and indeed members of the public from outside the community who choose to visit Princeton, so should our roads be open to all. Just as we take care to ensure that use of our public parks does not negatively impact neighbors who live nearby, so should we manage our roadways to protect nearby residents. Our parks are not open for midnight soccer games, or for drunken carousing, but we would never dream of requiring proof of residency to bring an afternoon picnic to Community Park or Herrontown Woods, or even worse, to restrict access to only those residents whose property happens to abut the parks. Similarly, we are looking to put in place rules that preserve parking access for the convenience of residents while also allowing non-residents to park.

Regarding Mr. Hopkins’ allegation that the work of the PPTF somehow is tainted by a conflict of interest, we vigorously defend the composition and conclusions of the Task Force. Residents of every affected neighborhood have been represented on the Task Force. It would have been an unpardonable tilting of the playing field if members of the business community had not also been included in the deliberative process. The give and take has been feisty, and in the final recommendations, the business owners have gotten much less than they would have wished.

Through the proposed employee parking fees, business owners are footing the bill for enhanced enforcement and free resident permits. Our local businesses contribute to the tax base and the vitality of our town — they are part of what makes Princeton such a desirable place to live. We have yet to hear a single rationale presented by Mr. Hopkins or other opponents of the plan justifying why business users should be relegated to the status of second-, or even third-class citizens when it comes to accessing the public rights-of-way.

The volunteers on the PPTF have worked diligently to create a plan that will help alleviate parking congestion and they will make their recommendations to Council at a special meeting on January 11. We have had numerous meetings with concerned neighbors, and have in fact invited Mr. Hopkins and other members of the Sensible Streets organization to present their viewpoint. We look forward to further dialogue and hope to conclude with good policy decisions that will help the community.

Leticia Fraga
Michelle Pirone-Lambros
David Cohen
Princeton Council Members
Witherspoon Street