Hoboken council considering hourly parking rate hike in city’s business district

0

The Hoboken Parking Utility has proposed a series of initiatives which will be up for consideration at tonight’s city council meeting, which it says are aimed at improving parking availability and convenience.

Photo via Hobokennj.org.

By Mike Montemarano/ Hudson County View

At tonight’s council meeting, they will consider the first reading of an ordinance which would increase hourly meter rates from $1 to $2 per hour in business district areas of the city.

The adjusted meter rates to be considered would coincide with a discount employee parking program.

Employees of Hoboken-based businesses will be eligible for a discount parking rate of $5.00 for 12 hours in Garage A, Garage B, and the Midtown Garage.

The $5 price for 12 hours would allow employees to save 69 percent each day compared to parking on the street and feeding the meter for eight hours, the mayor’s office said,

Mayor Ravi Bhalla anticipates that a higher parking turnover will result from the price increase, explaining his position in a statement released this afternoon.

“One of my priorities as Mayor has been to help enhance economic development within our business districts,” he said.

“To this end, we attempted to use higher meter rates last year to help generate more parking turnover to help free up curbside parking spaces in our business districts.”

Bhalla acknowledged that the parking rate hikes implemented on the waterfront and along Washington Street on March 4, 2019, led to a groundswell of complaints and critique from residents and some local business owners.

That same month, Hoboken council passed legislation returning the metered parking rates in those areas to $1 per hour.

Bike Hoboken, a civic group comprised of residents whose mission statement is to propose policy aimed at making Hoboken’s streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians, is on board with the proposed ordinance.

“Bike Hoboken is supportive of these proposed parking fee increases and other policies which help us look at our curb and street space differently than our current car-centric view,” Bike Hoboken President Chris Adair said in a statement.

“When people leave their personal vehicles parked at the curb for extended periods, it hurts businesses and diminishes other residents’ ability to share in these resources.”

Additionally, Hoboken Chamber of Commerce President Maria Nieves described the proposed ordinance as a positive first step, but suggested that the change “may not go far enough.”

“The ordinance that will be introduced by the Hoboken City Council is a first step in the right direction,” Nieves said in her own statement.

“If adopted, drivers parking their cars at many meters in Hoboken for an hour will continue to pay less than it costs to buy a medium-sized coffee at Starbucks. That’s a good deal, especially as it will support local commerce. In fact, it may not go far enough, but it’s a good start. Thus, we support this ordinance and we encourage our members to similarly do so.”

In a letter issued to HCOC members, Nieves argued that free parking is “not a public right,” and argued that free or cheap parking imposes tangential costs on local businesses, either through taxpayer-funded paving and maintenance or business taxes.

Furthermore, Nieves argued that the environmental costs associated with drivers cruising around for parking are far from trivial.

Another program that the parking utility will launch, beginning Feb. 10, is online virtual visitor permits.

Residents will be able to purchase and activate visitor permits for their guests online through any device, and will be able to purchase blocks of time for visitors instead of using hang tags that expire at midnight.

VVPS will cost $4 for four hours, $5 for eight hours, and $6 for 24 hours. Previously purchased visitor hang tag permits will be permitted through the end of 2021.

Furthermore, according to city spokesman Vijay Chaudhuri, the city also plans to launch a six-month parking sensor pilot program on Washington Street.

The parking utility will install vehicle detection sensors at 75 parking spaces on Washington Street between Newark Street and 4th Street, so drivers will be able to see real-time parking availability in those locations through the ParkMobile app.

Upgrades to parking access and revenue control systems will also be coming to parking Garages B, D, G, and Midtown.

Furthermore, the new systems will include license plate recognition cameras, eliminating the need for transponders at the entries and exits.

The garages will also feature exterior signs which tell drivers how many parking spaces are available in each garage in real time. Monthly customers will also be able to pay online, and visitors will be able to reserve spaces in garages online before leaving home.

The HPU will also partner with ParkMobile to offer an on-street merchant validation program.