Lawmakers want to reserve street parking spots for New Yorkers

NEW YORK — Commuters who drive into New York and then park their cars on city streets may soon be hard pressed to find street parking.

Several city council members have proposed implementing a residential parking permit system designed to reserve spaces for local residents. Council members Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal and Keith Powers, who intend to introduce legislation Wednesday,  say commuters drive over the George Washington Bridge, park their cars and then hop onto subways, leaving actual New Yorkers with limited space for their own cars.

“For too long suburban commuters have taken advantage of free street parking in Northern Manhattan and crowded out the people who actually live in our neighborhoods,” Levine said. “Whether you live in Washington Heights or the Upper East Side, parking in our borough is an incredible challenge for so many who live here."

The bill would allow the Department of Transportation to reserve as much as 80 percent of the parking spaces in areas north of 60th Street for local residents. Permits would only be issued to people with New York State driver's licenses. They would be attached to specific license plate numbers and be limited to one per licensed driver.

“Residential permit parking is a great step toward a more sensible street policy," Rosenthal said. "There’s a reason that nearly every other major city in the country has implemented such a system—it makes good sense to discourage folks from driving to neighborhoods like the Upper West Side and to make life a little easier for existing residents."

Transit advocate Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, backed the proposed bill.

“Traffic congestion is an ongoing economic, health, and safety crisis, and the city must begin to equitably tackle this street congestion using the most powerful tool they have at their disposal: authority over the more than 6,000 miles of streets across the city,” he said.  “Reforming parking policies and making better use of curbside space besides free, unlimited long-term private car storage will dis-incentivize unnecessary driving and reduce congestion by cutting down on the number of drivers circling for a parking spot, making our streets safer and our city greener.”