open letter: June 2010 Archives

After writing my open letter to Ian Sacs last week, I got to thinking about what other open letters I would write to people in City Hall. I thought about what was important to me, and what i'd like to see changed in Hoboken.

This week are police patrols, and i'd like to preface my opinion with three points:

1. I fully respect and understand that I don't know the inner workings of a police department. I fully respect and understand that my opinion is, frankly, ignorant. But, I still think my opinion is valid to some degree and worthy of simple consideration rather than a quick dismissal from the file and rank to "someone who just doesn't understand the police force" - as often I hear online from the police or firemen who dismiss citizen criticism.

2. I'm not a police officer. I don't have experience in law enforcement. I'm a citizen, a taxpayer, and my taxes directly pay for our uniformed officers to do their job. So I think i'm well within my rights to make an observation, and suggestion about what i'd like to see in Hoboken.

3. I believe in my taxes going to pay for first responders (police, fire, EMT). But i'm also someone who is fiscally conservative. I think we need to look at national averages for pay scale and apply them to our police and fire departments in all ranks. Then, I also think we need less brass and more patrolmen. When police state that we don't have enough cops - I think we need to be more creative in looking to streamline our police.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to my point.

One of the things I have issue with in town are the amount of police that we have in cars. Yes, I think responding to a call is best served as quickly and as efficiently in a police car, but during the warmer months why don't we have more police on foot in our mile square town? Even in December 2009 I saw a police officer on the street and wrote about how much I liked it.

In a study of Kansas City police officers, they concluded that "60 percent of the time spent by a Kansas City patrol officer typically was noncommitted. In other words, officers spent a considerable amount of time waiting to respond to calls for service. And they spent about as much time on non-police related activities as they did on police-related mobile patrol."

This same study did present strong evidence that increase in mobile police patrols didn't have a significant effect upon crime or the feeling that the residents were any safer.

Which, I agree with.

I think we need more police on the street, on foot. I would do this:

Hoboken is already divided into six wards, make each ward a "zone".

Then assign one officer who patrols each ward a day for two 1 hour patrols from 8am to 8pm.

Six wards. Twelve patrols of six officers who patrol on foot. Yes, there will still be police cars doing their job, and if a call comes in where a foot patrol officer is located, they can be dispatched to the call, and may even be faster to respond versus a police car which is 14 blocks away in some instances.

Now you might be saying why.

In the Newark Foot Patrol Experiment, it said "Residents see their communities as safer and better places to live, and are more satisfied with police services". The report also wrote: "It should also be noted that close contact between police and the citizenry helps the former develop first-hand information about crime and possible criminal behavior. Such information systems are likely to have a positive long-term impact."

With all of the talk of Governor Christie looking to create a 2.5% cap on property tax increases, which would, in turn, effect police staffing and salaries. There's also the Hoboken Police Audit which calls to reduce the number of police in Hoboken.

Seems to me that if you want the public to support the police one good step is getting the police more involved with the public. Rather than sticking two police officers in patrol cars and doing loops around the city, there should be more police actually interacting with its citizens.

That's my opinion. Take it for what it's worth, Officer Falco.

Open Letter To Ian Sacs

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This is a letter I sent to Ian Sacs, the Director of Parking and Transportation, a few weeks ago. Actually I can't remember if he replied, but I don't remember him doing so. What are your thoughts on fixing parking along Washington Street?

"Hi Ian,

I just wanted to know two things:

1. Are we looking to perhaps replace the meters on Washington Street with smart meters (meters that you can use credit cards, etc) with like they have in NYC?

2. I was writing on Hoboken411 about the double parking situation and did some research. New Haven had an issue like us with parking and I wrote this:

"One solution is we should have smart meters on Washington Street, which use "Dynamic parking" (refers to a system in which parking fees rise and fall according to demand. For instance, during the busiest part of the day downtown, it might cost $2 to park for an hour. When there are fewer cars around, it might be only $1.) Smart pricing also frees up curb space by incentivizing long-term parkers to use off-street lots and garages.

New Haven had similar issues with parking as we do, you can read more here.

Donald Shoup, author of The High Cost of Free Parking, says: "His proposed solution, implemented in a number of cities around the country: charge the "right price" for parking - not too little (or free) and not too much so as to discourage people from coming downtown.

That could be done either by varying the price according to time of day, or by charging for length of stay, Shoup said. He said optimally, most parking spots would be full but there'd be enough open spaces to make finding a spot relatively easy.

Second, he proposed returning parking meter revenue to the neighborhoods that generate it, to pay for improvements neighbors and merchants want to see.

Then cities should remove or reduce off-street parking requirements, shrinking the amount of pavement surrounding urban buildings and facilitating the creation of more human-scaled development, he recommended."

--

The bottom line is that Washington Street is too easy for people to park there in the middle of the day, popping quarters into a meters all day and taking up space. Someone like me would gladly pay $1 to park for 15 minutes if I can get in & get out.

I know plenty of business owners who park on the street and keep feeding the meters all day long to park. They clog the streets from people like me or parents who just want to pick up their kids or someone who simply wants 15 minutes to do a quick pickup and get on their way."

Wanted your thoughts on that if you had a second. I mean, don't you think the issue on Washington Street is that we don't have enough quick turnover & that it is too cheap to park? I think we should be looking to raise the price to park along Washington Street, for people like me who may be in their car and want to pop-in and out to buy something. Sure, there's the argument for people who want to eat along Washington Street, but I think a) they can pay more to park there for an hour or b) They should look to use a public parking garage if that cost is too high (I mean $4 for 1 hour is still probably cheaper than a garage).

Sean"


Even after writing this I think a key issue is having enough parking garages. A perfect location for a multi-story garage would be on Observer between Washington and Hudson. That's a huge parking lot that if it was converted into a multi-story lot it could house a ton of people who drive into town looking for a quick place to park for downtown dining or shopping.

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This page is a archive of entries in the open letter category from June 2010.

open letter: February 2010 is the previous archive.

open letter: July 2010 is the next archive.

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