UPDATED: 12:20 p.m
Parking in Hoboken is already a pretty taxing experience. The Hoboken City Council is looking to increase a number of fees associated with parking in town, arguing that these initiatives will curb issues at the curb for residents, visitors and businesses alike.
An ordinance introduced by Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, who chairs the Parking and Transportation subcommittee, will see the annual fee for a Hoboken residential parking sticker go from $15/year to $52/year. Significant percentage-wise, the increase means residents of the city directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan go from paying 29 cents to paying one dollar per week for the opportunity to utilize increasingly valuable and vital on-street parking… assuming one can find a spot, of course.
“This has been a long talked about policy change to better price parking, a scarce resource in Hoboken,” says Fisher, “but there is no easy path on this topic given the many disparate views across our community.”
— John Dalton (@jvdalton) December 11, 2019
According to the proposed ordinance, the City would be increasing residential permits, “~$.29/wk or $15/yr currently to $1/wk or $52/year for the first car,” which currently accounts for around 12,000 vehicles in Hoboken. For families with more than one car, the rate will go from “$.58/wk or $30/year currently to $2/wk or $104/yr for the second car (approximately 1,600 cars) and from $1.73/wk or $90/yr to $4/wk for the third car (around 300 cars).”
Says Fisher, “At $1 per week, this is still significantly lower than all other alternatives in Hoboken which range between approximately $35 per week and $75 per week in area garages.”
Not everyone is sold on that argument.
“For a decade the HPU (Hoboken Parking Utility) and parking in this city have been used as a back-door tax on its residents. Over $6 million dollars in parking related tickets a year are collected,” says Andrew Impastato, owner of Hoboken Parking Dude, a service that helps drivers navigate the complexities of parking in the Mile Square City. “Instead of prioritizing fixes for the above mentioned travesties, this City administration and majority of City Council members want to raise revenue with a long-lasting parking permit price structure.”
The proposed increases in parking fees come as the City of Hoboken faces a multi-million dollar budgetary shortfall, with the very real threat of widespread municipal layoffs looming.
In addition to the residential parking fees, the Council is also proposing increases in towing fees and fines for parking violations.
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“Residents are constantly confused and misled with ever-changing parking regulations, inconsistent parking rules, flawed parking programs, lack of updated parking information, untimely notifications, void of modern parking technology—and a corrupt overly aggressive ticket quota enforcement patrol system,” says Impastato.
Fisher maintains that the increased fee initiatives are part of a greater plan for better administration of Hoboken’s parking overall.
“We have an opportunity to think more strategically,” Fisher told hMAG. “I think as a City we’ve done a terrible job managing our parking.”
Last year, the City rolled out its dynamic pricing program, a policy that saw fees for parking shoot up from 25 cents for 15 minutes to anywhere from 50 to 90 cents for that same period—depending upon the location. That represented a 100-360% increase in cost to a person parking their car on the streets in Hoboken. The concept was intended to make garage parking relatively more desirable, thereby taking more cars off the street and alleviating the parking problems that residents and visitors typically face.
However, the program was abandoned after a significant outcry from residents and business owners alike.
In an effort to reinvigorate Hoboken’s business environment, the City has since initiated a Special Improvement District. “Parking will be a major focus of the special improvement district,” Fisher told hMAG.
The idea of increasing parking rates in commercial areas is something that will be revisited. While the execution of dynamic pricing chafed a lot of people, the rationale and conditions that prompted it still exist.
“I support increased meter rates in our business districts to help drive turnover of cars to support our businesses,” said Fisher. “But what the administration proposed last year increasing from the current $1/hr to almost $4/hr was too drastic.”
With the input of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce and other businesses, a plan is being developed to optimize parking return and maintain fluidity among parking spaces.
“Those ‘free’ or low-cost meter spots are being subsidized by the public and consumers,” says Maria Nieves, President & CEO of the Hudson County Chamber of Commerce. “In effect, we’re all subsidizing driving. When there are ‘free’ or low-cost spots, we encourage driving by making it less expensive than it truly is and that leads to more cars than there are available parking spots.”
Of course the real need for driving obviously exists in a number of scenarios. Nieves says, “When we treat parking spaces as the commodities they really are and recognize that there is no such thing as a ‘free’ or low-cost meter parking spot, then we will all reconsider our behavior. Drivers are more mindful of how much time they’ll keep their car parked on the street, taking up valuable real estate.”
That mindfulness will theoretically translate to more availability of parking in commercial areas.
“Because parking spots will thus turnover more quickly, drivers will cruise around town and businesses will have the potential to attract more consumers as more visitors and residents are able to get in and out of town,” says Nieves, adding, “Others may opt out of driving all together and decide to take public transportation.”
Fisher feels, “The goal is to strike a balance that would incentivize turnover of parking spaces while still not making it too expensive that people will stop visiting Hoboken.” She says, “An increase to say $2/hr in our business districts only while leaving the remainder of the city at $1/hr is more in the range of what I would support.”
Regarding the City’s glaring budget issues, Fisher says, “I am supportive of an increase given the significant demand for parking, the ongoing operational and capital needs of the City, the interest of our residents to see our businesses thrive and the fact that we are basically at capacity on our streets.”
Meanwhile, Hoboken Parking Dude has organized an online petition to protest some of the increased outlined in the Council’s plan.
“They want to ignore all core parking problems that drive residents and visitors alike and instead help raise revenue,” says Impastato.
Hoboken’s next City Council meeting will be held on Wednesday, February 5.