The city council is considering a proposal to roll out resident-only parking for two blocks of the Eastside section neighborhood after residents complained about scarcity of parking near a popular night club on Market Street.
Non-residents will not be able to take up residential parking spaces on East 38th Street between Market Street and 21st Avenue and East 39th Street between Market Street and Vreeland Avenue from Friday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Miguel Diaz, president of the Eastside Neighborhood Association (ESNA). Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, suggested the idea when a band of residents from East 38th and East 39th Streets came before the council to complain about parking spaces being occupied by patrons of the Bonfire Mofongo House night club.
Diaz worries about enforcement without which the resident-only parking scheme may not work. “I don’t see it as a challenge for enforcement,” added William McKoy, 3rd Ward councilman. “Folks are not going to continue to do that at the risk of getting a ticket. Once it’s established and everybody is aware, I think you’ll have a high degree of compliance.”
Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres said enforcement may be an issue due to the large number of calls for service the city’s police receive on a given day. Special class-one police officers can issue tickets and provide enforcement of the ordinance, said the mayor.
Violators will be slapped with a $50 fine, according to the ordinance.
Torres also said the city is looking to amend its taxi enforcement chapter so that taxi enforcers can also issue tickets. He said a combination of the specials, taxi enforcers, and regular police will be sufficient enforcement.
“At the end of the day the residents are going to be the ones enforcing it,” said Torres. “When they see someone has parked and they don’t have the permit parking then they’ll probably call.”
Area residents will have to obtain parking permits from the city by filling out an application. They will also have to obtain temporary parking permits for visitors.
The ordinance before the council does not set any application fees for the permits. “This is a pilot case, I don’t know if there’s a contemplation of a fee, except administrative cost of running the system,” said McKoy.
Morris said there won’t be any fees for the pilot program which will run for three to six months, but it will allow the city to determine the cost of running the initiative. “We will be able to determine what our expenses are going to be,” said Morris. Costs associated with printing out the permits. And whether the permits should be tags or stickers.
The pilot is a way to test and experiment to figure out the viability of a resident-only permit parking system. Morris has been discussing a residential permit parking program for quite some time in order to address the city’s parking problems. He said the pilot will allow the city to address a lot of the issues that may emerge like the duration of the temporary permit for visitors which is at 30-day at present. And the number of cars a household will be able to register.
Diaz said it can work in small pockets across the city, but doubted it will be successful city wide. “Not city wide, I think it would fit in certain residential areas,” said McKoy. “I don’t think it will be broadly applied.”
Torres said a city wide scheme may have negative consequences for New Jersey’s third largest city. And residents may not want to obtain a temporary parking permit each time they have a visitor. Plus, said the mayor, it could shut out visitors to the city after a certain hour of the day.
“I do not know if this could be applied generically city-wide,” said Torres. Moving forward, the city may go on a case-by-case basis to setup zones for resident-only parking, said city officials.
Morris said the end goal is to roll out resident-only permit parking throughout the city, but he noted that may not happen all at once, but gradually. “I’m going to make it city wide, but it may not be done in one fell swoop. We might do section by section because each geographical location in the city is going to present different challenges and problems,” said Morris. “So rather than tackle all of the problems and challenges all at once, I’d rather tackle them on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis until such time we have the whole city involved in the program.”
The ordinance is up for an initial vote before the city council tomorrow night.
This report was updated at 12:47 p.m. with comments from councilman Kenneth Morris.