August 2017 Archives

How I Would Fix Hoboken: Parking

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I'm not running for public office, but after living here since 1995, these are things I would do to fix our town. First up, parking.

There are three things I would suggest.

One, we have blacktop lots outside of Church Towers, which is affordable housing and is granted tax breaks because of a PILOT agreement from over 30 years ago. This year Church Towers is up for another vote if we should extend their PILOT for 10 years (translation: residents wouldn't have to pay taxes). While this certainly is beneficial to the residents, what does the city get in return? At Church Towers they have black-top lots for parking. Why don't we explore making a making a multi-story parking garage on those lots?

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The blacktop lot takes up an enormous amount of space for parking. It is ONLY for Church Tower residents. That doesn't make any practical sense. I would want to keep something only 4 stories high, in line with the surrounding buildings. Ideally, we should look to make the top of the parking garage into open space or consider the possibility of a community center, like a pool. Or consider redesigning the whole space of Church Towers, to include a new playground, park space, parking garage.

I think there are other opportunities to convert black-top parking into parking garages in other parts of the city. Marion Towers is a good example. Clock Tower Apartments is another example. Shop Rite parking lot is a waste of space - imagine a three story lot there with a park on top of it? 

Second, I would increase the cost of street parking for residents from $15 a year to $115 a year. Senior citizens and emergency services (Police, Fire, EMT) would pay $25 a year. The use of this money would ONLY be used for parking and transportation issues, rather than giving into the general tax fund. While it won't solve all our parking issues, one of the biggest complaints I hear is our municipal garages are filthy and falling apart. Elevators don't work. It smells like urine. Rather than fix potholes, the city covers them with sheet metal.  When the city is told of these issues, they point fingers. We had 9 years of "reform" to fix this and Zimmer wants us to pick Ravi Bhalla for more of the same. While I like Ravi, I'm not convinced that is the answer and we might need some fresh thinking here.

Third, is protected bike lanes. I know. This is a controversial issue. I don't think we need protected bike lanes in every street. I know people point at the lack of use on Observer Highway as their reasoning behind why bike lanes are the devil. I think we need a better north-south protected bike lane and I would designate Grand (South) and Clinton (North) as the two streets to create protected bike lanes. Yes, Grand Street gets cut off at 9th because of the park, but I am sure we can work with Hudson County to figure out a way to connect a bike path between 9th, 10th and 11th. 

On a side note, I think Zimmer made a mistake using NextBike over CitiBike, no matter her reasons. As someone who has used NextBike for the last year it has one fatal flaw - it sucks. What sucks about NextBike vs CitiBike is that I can walk up to a CitiBike station, swipe my card and go. It's fast. NextBike is clunky and annoying to rent a bike. There's nothing quick about it. The idea of renting a bike with NextBike fills me with dread. We live in a digital age of quick cell phones, quick internet, quick everything. NextBike is like 56K dialup versus CitiBike as 100Mb dedicated Internet. 

How would protected bike lanes fix parking? While Zimmer is often maligned for her vision for bike lanes, she's right. We should have bike lanes. We should "encourage" people to give up cars and even taxis over public bikes. My biggest issue with using our current bike lanes (even as a guy who is 6'4 and 230 pounds) is that i'm kind of freaked out by Hoboken drivers and pedestrians. I have been on a bike on our streets and it is very unsafe, with multiple near misses from cars and pedestrians. Protected bike lanes would fix this.

Also it would fix parking because if we had safer streets, I believe more people would embrace bike usage over taking taxis or uber, especially in spring, summer and fall. I don't think we need more than just two central protected bike lanes. We already have the waterfront as another way to get around the city safely on a bike. 

That's it. If I could wave my magic wand those would be the three things I would change to fix parking.

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

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