NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Could New York City take another huge step in clearing cars from streets by eliminating all free street parking?
An Upper West Side transportation committee is floating the controversial idea, CBS2’s Marcia Kramer reported Thursday.
Finding a parking space up there is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. But if Howard Yaruss, the chairman of Community Board 7’s Transportation Committee, has his way you’ll soon have to pay for that needle.
“We would like New York City to look at charging for curb-side space. That way you can free up the space, allow it to be used for the highest and best use, and allow traffic to flow,” Yaruss said.
The committee passed a resolution saying the city should consider a more “equitable” use of the curb space, including residential parking permits or parking meters capable of surge pricing.
“The traffic is intolerable,” Yaruss said. “With congestion pricing coming, it’s only going to get worse. We have to get out ahead of it.”
City Councilman Mark Levine said he favors residential parking permits, and not just on the Upper West Side. He wants to protect neighborhoods all over the city from suburban commuters seeking to avoid congestion pricing fees.
“We don’t want them circling our neighborhoods in the morning taking up spots, adding to congestion,” Levine said of the drivers who potentially will look to park above 60th Street.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson also likes the idea of charging to park, saying, “We need to reorient and re-prioritize the way we use our street space. That includes looking at where we should reduce free curb-side parking, particularly in transit-rich areas of the city where people are less reliant on cars.”
That puts him on a collision course with Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“I think we need to keep finding every solution to reduce the use of motor vehicles in New York City and I’ll look at a whole range of things, but if you said on first blush does that go so far as telling people they can’t park on their own street? No, I’m not there,” de Blasio said.
The idea is a political hot potato, to say the least.
“We made a mistake about a hundred years ago in which we started to allow people to park on street and not charge them,” former NYC Traffic Commissioner Sam Schwartz said. “However, to now start charging people in residential areas for parking, that’s going to be a real heavy lift.”
Residents that spoke to CBS2 seemed more opposed than in favor.
“I think it’s nuts,” one woman said.
“I don’t like it, ridiculous,” a man said.
“Of course, it’s a good idea. You got to control the number of cars,” another man said.
“Visitors who come in? Yes. People who live here? No,” another added.
So depending on which way the political winds blow, a meter could be popping up in a neighborhood near you soon.
New York City currently has about 3 million parking spaces. Approximately 95 percent of them are free. The question for city politicians is how far do they want to go to break the car culture.