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Should only NYC residents be allowed to park in NYC? Why this new proposal may have a long road ahead of it

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, Manhattan — It's been proposed more than once before, but could this be the time that residential parking permits become law in New York City? If a few New York City councilmembers, including the chair of the transportation committee, have their way, the answer will be yes. However, it's by no means guaranteed.

On Wednesday, two residential parking permit proposals were submitted to the City Council. One, sponsored by Transportation Committee Chair Ydanis Rodriguez, would provide for residential permits citywide. Another, submitted by councilmembers Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal, Keith Powers and Diana Ayala, would apply to Manhattan only, above 60th Street, river to river.

"These streets belong to us, to New Yorkers," Councilmember Levine said at a midday news conference, in which the writers of both proposals came together to demonstrate their compatibility, they'd said.

Both proposals would confine parking in residential neighborhoods to the people who live in those neighborhoods where the permits would be required. Also, in both cases, 80 percent of non-residential parking would be residents-only.

"It's great for the residents," said Johnny Medina, a Washington Heights resident. However, even though he lives in the New York City neighborhood with perhaps the highest number of out-of-town drivers, he was not necessarily in favor of the residential parking permit proposal.

"It's mixed feelings," Medina said, citing the high cost of garage parking in Manhattan. He said that he didn't blame people from the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge crossing into Manhattan and trying to find parking spots on the street for free, and then getting on the subway downtown to work.

"If you're living here, it's great," said Joe Rahilly, as he walked across 172nd Street, six blocks from the G.W. Bridge. "But if you don't, not" so good, he said. Rahilly is in the latter group. He commutes in to Washington Heights from Long Island regularly for doctor's appointments at New York Presbyterian - Columbia University Medical Center in the neighborhood. He said that the residential permit program could negatively impact him, especially if it would require him to always pay to park in a garage.

By contrast, Elizabeth Luengas said that the proposed ordinance would help her husband immensely. He drives their car, she said, which they keep on the street near their home in The Heights.

"He can wait outside for hours before he can get a parking spot," Luengas said. She said she strongly favors the residential parking proposal, and "I'm sure [my husband] would too," as long as it wasn't too expensive, she pointed out. Councilmember Rodriguez said that he expected a permit to cost $100 to $150 per year.

The details -- such as who would qualify for permits in each neighborhood, what city residents who have out-of-state plates could do for parking, what parking options would be available for residents who rent cars, and so forth, are yet to be worked out. There appears to be a lot of work left to do.

"We will have hearings," said Councilmember Rodriguez. "We will hear from members of the community boards" as well as transportation experts and others, he said.

They also still need to hear from Albany. The state legislature in the past, in 2011 and 2008, has rejected New York City proposals to have residential parking permits. The city of Albany itself, as well as Buffalo, have gotten approval from the state government to have residential parking permit zones, however.

Other major cities nationwide have the zones as well, including Washington, D.C., Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.

None of the councilmembers at Wednesday's news conference would commit to a date as to when they expect the residential parking bill to become law. "Soon," said Rodriguez, bringing the press event to a close.