With regime change imminent at the Department of Transportation, residential parking permits for Brooklyn may be back on the table.
Elected officials, mass transit advocates, and community groups are planning to lobby for residential permits that would reserve for residents side-street parking in Brooklyn Heights and nearby neighborhoods.
With about 40% of parking spaces in these neighborhoods occupied by commuters who work in area courts and government offices, residents often must circle their blocks for hours in search of parking. Under Commissioner Iris Weinshall's watch, the Department of Transportation shot down the idea of issuing residential parking permits, in part because she said such an idea would make it impossible for visitors to those neighborhoods to find parking. The parking program would also be problematic "because many neighborhoods are very dense and there are many more cars than there is available curb space," a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation, Kay Sarlin, said.
With Ms. Weinshall vacating her post in mid-April, Council Member David Yassky and groups such as Transportation Alternatives are attempting to breathe life back into the parking permit issue.
"Parking permits are one of the easiest and most effective things we can do on traffic and parking," Mr. Yassky said. He is pushing for a system known as "hunting licenses." While it doesn't guarantee curbside parking for residents, the licenses give them the exclusive right to park there.
Mr. Yassky said the system also creates an incentive for commuters to use mass transit.
"Of course in New York, we can't guarantee a parking space," Mr. Yassky said. "But if you live in the neighborhood, you should have a better shot." Advocates of residential parking permits say the development of Atlantic Yards, which will bring a surge of outside traffic into the surrounding neighborhoods, makes residential parking permits an even more pertinent issue.
"I think residents should get the first crack at neighborhood streets," Mr. Yassky said. A study released earlier this week by Transportation Alternatives found that nearly half the traffic in Park Slope was circling for parking. It recommended residential parking permits as one method of traffic and parking relief.
A $75,000 study commissioned by the city last year found that Brooklyn has a more complicated traffic pattern than a city such as Boston, where residential parking permits have been successful. It concluded that it would very difficult to reserve parking for area residents in Brooklyn.