Friday, April 25, 2014

So they're reducing Atlantic Yards parking. There's a logic to that, but it discounts fierce competition for free spaces. And there's no mention of hockey crowds.

As I've reported, according to the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), headed for a public hearing on April 30, Atlantic Yards on-site parking will be cut, perhaps by a lot.

Empire State Development already is considering a cut from the 3,670 spaces analyzed in the 2006 Final EIS to 2,896 parking spaces.  A "Reduced Parking Alternative" would cut the number to 1,200 spaces, reflecting recent zoning changes for Downtown Brooklyn.

As I wrote, that's likely welcome news to the sensible, progressive sorts who embrace the livable streets movement, but there's a huge caveat: the continued, and aggressive, competition with arena-goers for free, on-street parking, at least without residential permit parking (which is not being considered at this point).

It also ignores the spotty enforcement of illegal parking and idling by black cars and limos on residential streets.

A further look at the Draft SEIS suggests another major caveat: the worst-case scenario analyzed is a Nets basketball game, rather than a regular crowd at the Barclays Center for Islanders hockey, starting in 2015, with presumably a larger percentage of drivers, given the suburban fan base.

One commenter suggested the SEIS should "use a sold out arena event patronized by a young audience as the worst-case scenario." Instead, the SEIS relied on the methodology used in the Final EIS in 2006, when there was no expectation of major league hockey. No one suggested hockey be considered.

The parking planned in the base case

According to the Draft SEIS, the “base case” Parking Key Plan would reduce the number of spots from the 2006 plan, cutting the parking area on the Arena Block and eliminating parking spaces in the southwest corner of Block 1120 because parking in this area is not compatible with the current design of the permanent rail Yard.

The reduced parking plan

The Parking Key Plan studied in the Reduced Parking Alternative also would reduce the parking area on the Arena Block and would eliminate all parking on Block 1120 and under Building 15 on Block 1128, now likely the site for a school.

In other words, no parking at the railyard site. That means that, even if they never build the deck and construct six towers over the railyard, they'll have built the required parking.

Looking at the documents

According to the Operational Transportation chapter of the Draft SEIS:
Compared to the 2006 FEIS, this SEIS analysis reflects a proposed reduction from 3,670 to 2,896 spaces in the amount of on-site parking capacity that would be provided with full build- out of the Project. In addition, this SEIS analysis differs from the 2006 FEIS with respect to travel demand factors, analysis methodologies, impact criteria, background conditions, background growth rates, and the Project development program. For example, the forecasts of residential parking demand in the 2006 FEIS assumed an overnight rate of 0.4 spaces per dwelling unit whereas this SEIS analysis assumes an overnight rate of 0.2 spaces per dwelling unit, consistent with recent survey data which indicate lower levels of residential parking demand in Downtown Brooklyn. In addition, as per current CEQR Technical Manual guidelines, the SEIS analysis assumes lower background growth rates (0.25 percent/year for years 1-5 and 0.125 percent/year for subsequent years) than were assumed for the 2006 FEIS (0.5 percent/year for all years).
Under the CEQR Technical Manual guidelines used for the 2006 FEIS, a parking shortfall in the area of Downtown Brooklyn exceeding more than half the available on-street and off-street parking spaces within 1⁄4-mile of the site was considered significant. By contrast, under current CEQR Technical Manual guidelines for this area of Brooklyn, the inability of a proposed project or the surrounding area to accommodate a project’s future parking demands is considered a parking shortfall, but is generally not considered significant due to the magnitude of available alternative modes of transportation.
(All emphases added)

The 2,896 on-site spaces would to accommodate all the non-Arena parking demand, with a surplus of approximately 1,250 spaces under the residential mixed-use variation and 1,286 spaces under the less-likely commercial mixed-use variation (not including 324 parking spaces for Arena and NYPD use).

Also,, the projected amount of parking capacity available at off-street public parking facilities within 1⁄2-mile under the Extended Build-Out Scenario is expected to be sufficient to accommodate all of the demand generated by a Nets game. Thus,  no significant adverse parking impacts.

That of course ignores the fact that many of those drivers would rather not pay for parking.

Reducing parking

According to the Alternatives chapter of the Draft SEIS
As shown in Tables 4D-60 through 4D-63 in Chapter 4D, “Operational Transportation,” under the residential mixed-use variation, total parking demand from the Project’s residential, commercial, retail, hotel and public school uses (Phase I and Phase II combined) is expected to peak at approximately 1,322 spaces during the overnight period on both a weekday and a Saturday. The proposed 2,896 on-site parking spaces provided with full build-out of the Project would therefore be sufficient to accommodate all of the peak overnight demand generated by these non-Arena uses under the residential mixed-use variation. After accounting for the 300 spaces of Arena parking and 24 spaces dedicated for NYPD use, there would be a surplus of approximately 1,250 parking spaces during the peak overnight period under this variation.
Under the Reduced Parking Alternative, the 1,200 spaces would include approximately 876 spaces of accessory parking for non-Arena (residential, commercial, retail, hotel and public school) uses on the project site, 300 spaces for some arena demand, and 24 spaces for NYPD use.

Thus, the 450-space parking garage on Block 1120 (center railyard block) and the 150-space parking garage on Block 1128 (Building 15, center block below railyard) would not be developed. Also, the number of spaces in the below-grade garage on Site 5 (now home to P.C. Richard/Modell's, but a site for a tower) would be cut to 240 from 400.

Also, up to 910 spaces would be provided in the permanent below-grade garage on Block 1129, the southeast block, compared with 1,846 as proposed, with a 2,896 total. Also, 50 to 100 spaces would be under Building 3 at the southeast corner of the Arena Block, as current planned.

Taking up the slack: non-arena uses

The document says that the 876 on-site parking spaces noted above for non-arena uses would be less than the demand projected: 1,322 spaces overnight under the residential mixed-use variation.

So the Draft SEIS analyzed off-street public parking facilities within ¼-mile of the project site. Given the need to accommodate a projected 307 to 446 spaces during the weekday evening and overnight periods, the projected capacity (1,026 and 985 spaces, respectively) would be sufficient, according to the Draft SEIS. This does not address the competition for free parking.

Taking up the slack: Nets games

For Nets games, they analyzed 21 off-street public parking facilities currently located within 1⁄2-mile (not  ¼-mile) of the arena. The analysis "conservatively assumes" that all of this off-site parking demand would utilize off-street public parking facilities though more than 50 percent of those driving to a Nets game currently park on-street.

Table 6-11 projects that 307 spaces from non-Arena Project uses would be needed off-site on weekday evenings, though all non-Arena demand during a Saturday daytime event could be accommodated on-site.

With a Nets game, off-site parking demand should total approximately 1,231 spaces on a weekday evening and 1,289 spaces during a Saturday afternoon. Given expected capacity of 1,767 spaces off-site during weekday evenings and 2,048 spaces during Saturday middays, there's no expected shortfall even if onsite parking would be cut.

On-Street parking

There's still more than enough on-street parking according to the chapter:
The New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) survey data from 2011 (prior to the opening of the Arena) indicate that there are a total of approximately 9,395 on-street parking spaces (metered and un-metered) in the neighborhoods within 1⁄2-mile of the Arena.1 Overall peak utilization was found to total approximately 84 percent on a weekday afternoon, 81 percent on a weekday evening, and 66 percent on a Saturday afternoon, although there was considerable variation by neighborhood. April 2013 data from a subsequent NYCDOT study found increased utilization of the on-street parking supply in this area during a weekday evening Nets game at Barclays Center, with a peak utilization level of approximately 87 percent on blocks closest to the Arena.

Although the previous analysis of off-street public parking conditions conservatively assumes that all Project demand not accommodated on-site would utilize off-street public parking facilities in the vicinity, data from surveys of Arena patrons indicate that on weekdays approximately 25.7 percent of Nets spectators arrive by auto, and of these, approximately 46 percent use off-street parking facilities and 54 percent are parking on-street. A higher percentage of Nets spectators arrive by auto on weekends (32.1 percent) but a smaller percentage use off-street facilities on weekends (approximately 43 percent) with more parking on-street (57 percent). As discussed previously, peak parking accumulation during a Nets game at the Arena parking lot on Block 1129 typically totals fewer than 300 autos, and a total of 300 on-site parking spaces would be provided to accommodate Arena demand under both the Project and the Reduced Parking Alternative. As there would continue to be available capacity at off-street public parking facilities within 1⁄2-mile of the Arena in the future (see Table 6-11), the numbers of Arena patrons parking on-street under this alternative are expected to be similar to current conditions as well as future conditions with the Project.
The Reduced Parking Alternative contains a traffic mitigation plan that displace up to 107 spaces within 1⁄2-mile of the Arena, while about seven on-street parking spaces may be created if lanes are re-striped on Dean Street at Vanderbilt Avenue. But there's still more than enough on-street spaces, according to the document:
Based on this analysis, with the implementation of the proposed traffic mitigation measures that would eliminate on-street parking, on-street parking capacity would remain available in the overall study area under the Reduced Parking Alternative.

The Response to Comments document produced by Empire State Development to accompany the release of the Final Scope for a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement contains a rather curious exchange regarding parking enforcement.

Comment 133:
The SEIS must assess the ability of City agencies responsible for enforcement to monitor the site perimeter, issue summonses as required, and propose any additional resource plan required to ensure compliance with City and State laws. (Brooklyn Speaks)
Community parking has been an issue. Quite often I’ve found many illegally parked cars, also many that are idling, that are an impact on pedestrian and commuter life. People are suffering of course from the mobile sources of illegally parked cars that are idling. Pedestrians are put into some danger by those, the illegally blocked cars that are blocking no parking zones, cross walks and so forth. (Ettlinger)
Forest City Ratner has made commitments, environmental commitments which it has failed to fix, to pay any attention to. It has, for instance, allowed its construction workers to park wherever they please on the streets near the construction site. And on several occasions they have pulled up no parking signs and thrown them away so that they could park there. They are not ticketed and nobody has been held accountable for that. Construction bombing has gone on after hours late at night, such that on several occasions last summer my cats that were cat napping two blocks away were awakened and alarmed by the noise. The dust. There is also a problem with the big black limousines. (Hagen) [actually Hagan]
Information relating to construction worker parking will be discussed in the SEIS. Parking relating to Arena operations will be considered as a background condition to the extent it is relevant to an assessment of the environmental impacts of Phase II of the Project.
That's not particularly responsive, is it?

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