2013-05-24 / Columnists

Are Residential Parking Permits The Answer?

By Rick Horan

For this week’s column I decided to focus on ideas that might help alleviate Rockaway’s self-imposed parking problem. OK, it’s not a problem for everyone, just those residents who want, or need to park on the street on summer weekends.

Tip: If you’re ever at any Rockaway gathering and there is a lull in the conversation, just blurt out that you think the parking restrictions are stupid and we should get rid of them. I guarantee you a passionate discussion will ensue.

As a red-blooded libertarian I cringed at the thought of looking into legislative approaches, short of eliminating the ban altogether, to ease the parking pain that takes the pleasure out of summer for so many Rockaway residents. Let’s face it, whenever we use the government to solve problems, we usually get more than we asked for. More bureaucracy, more costs, less freedom.

So it was with some trepidation that I placed a call to our City Councilman, Eric Ulrich to ask for his opinion on Residential Parking Permits. His response: "I support the use of residential parking permits allowing only local homeowners and residents have access to on-street parking during the beach season. This program has proven successful in other parts of Queens and I believe it would also work well in Rockaway." (On 11/3/11 the City Council voted 40-8 with one abstention to support a program that would let communities request a permit system.)

According to his Chief of Staff, Rudy Giuliani, Eric voted for the resolution calling on the State Legislature to allow DOT to implement this proposal as a pilot program but did not think that it had yet passed the Assembly or State Senate.

What? Why is this local issue in the hands of the State? Why do lawmakers in Buffalo get to decide what we do in New York City? Here I go, down another government rabbit hole. I knew I should have written about something else, but submission deadlines were fast approaching and I didn’t want another nasty e-mail from Herr Boyle. I was committed.

So I shot an e-mail off to our State representatives for comment hoping for clarity.

State Assemblyman, Phil Goldfeder was the first to respond: “I am a co-sponsor and strong supporter in the Assembly of the legislation (A.5089) which authorizes the city of New York to issue residential parking permits. I know this legislation is crucial for Rockaway and other neighborhoods that suffer a severe lack of parking due to the high number of visitors that frequent our beaches during the summer season. However, due to the devastation caused by Super- Storm Sandy, our relief and recovery efforts are ongoing and the dire need for additional parking has only intensified for the upcoming months. I will do everything I can to advocate and push this legislation for an immediate vote in the Assembly.”

The next morning Senator Joe Addabbo returned my call. Clearly he thinks something should be done to ease the parking pain during the summer. Based on his experience in both the City Council and State Senate, he thinks the City is better able to deal with this and is prepared to vote yes on the Senate bill so the City had the authority to implement it when and where it wants.

Joe provided following information on the bills pending in Albany: S795-2013: Authorizes the City of New York to provide for a residential parking permit system Sponsored by Senator Squadron and A05089 Sponsored by Assemblyman Millman and Co-Sponsored by Phil Goldfeder.

Apparently this legislation has been tied up in the Transportation Committee for several years. Joe said it is possible the bill might come to a vote this session, but unlikely. (note: the Republican controlled Senate is deferring to their NYC based colleagues Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) and Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) who oppose the measure.)

I made the mistake of reading the bill as it is now written and realize that Rockaway residents might want to tweak some of its provisions (full text can be found online)

Before we get bogged down in details, let’s address the larger issue: why does the state have authority to decide issues like this?

So what’s the answer…Get rid of the parking restrictions? Put pressure on the City Council and/or State Legislature to implement Residential Parking Permits? Leave things as they are and f#@! the residents who can’t park? Something else? I’ve got a big government headache.

Comments? Ideas? Need to vent? Write me at: RickHoran@IdeasImprov.com

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