Off the streets and under buildings, however, exists a glut of parking spaces, built not to accommodate demand but to comply with zoning that the city has barely updated since the auto boom more than half a century ago.This is the PlaNYC 1950 that I've written about, and that transportation reformers (and developers) have long been trying to change.
The result is not just little-used garages in neighborhoods bordered by car-packed curbs, but a policy that seems to be at odds with Mayor Michael Bloomberg's vision of a sustainable city that rationally allocates precious resources and removes barriers to business.
The Department of City Planning knows its 1950s-era parking requirements are outdated and is preparing to issue recommendations for Manhattan and “inner-ring” neighborhoods, such as those in western Brooklyn and Queens. But transportation advocates worry that reforms will fail to dent what they deem an oversupply of parking at large developments.
Transportation advocates worry that the glut at Yankee Stadium will be replicated at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, which is to have 3,670 parking spots when residential buildings are completed in the project's second phase. Until then, much of the space next to the site's arena, the Barclays Center, will be a blacktop parking lot.Hold up. The space immediately adjacent to the arena would not be used for parking--rather, the southeast block, Block 1129, is to be a surface parking lot, with parking eventually to be moved underground.
“If the economic conditions change and phase two of the project doesn't go forward, you will have this big empty space in the middle of Brooklyn,” said Kate Slevin, executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.
And even if Phase 2 does go forward, given the gentle deadlines for the project--ten years until a building must be constructed on Block 1129--there will be, if not a "big empty space," a big surface parking lot.
A City Planning spokeswoman declined to comment on the policy recommendations it is readying. But sources briefed on the matter said residential garages in Manhattan could be allowed to rent to the public (which many do illicitly), while developments in transit-served areas outside Manhattan may see parking requirements lowered.Of course, the state overrode zoning for Atlantic Yards so it could have overridden the parking requirements--and still could. So even a city policy change might not affect Atlantic Yards.