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PlaNYC 2030 and the need for parking policy

Last December, I described how Mayor Mike Bloomberg's much-praised PlaNYC 2030 contains a glaring omission, a failure to address the antiquated anti-urban policy that mandates parking attached to new residential developments outside Manhattan, even when such developments, like Atlantic Yards, are justified precisely because they're located near transit hubs. I called the current situation PlaNYC 1950.

(Ironically enough, the Empire State Development Corporation, which will override several aspects of city zoning to facilitate the Atlantic Yards project, chose not to override the city's parking policy.)

Last month, a year after Bloomberg's plan was announced, a watchdog group identified parking policy as among six administrative initiatives in order to implant the principles of sustainability into the city's governmental structure.

According to Building a Greener Future: A Progress Report on New York City’s Sustainability Initiatives, by The New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund (NYLCVEF), the parking policy is threefold:
Create a variable-price parking program that would increase the price for street parking in the Manhattan Central Business District during peak hours, begin a comprehensive study of the parking requirements in the Zoning Resolution and increase city funding for the MTA.

(Emphasis added. Note that new parking revenues could support public transportation.)

On the city's agenda?

At a panel April 23 on PlaNYC hosted by the NY Metro Chapter of the American Planning Association, Marcia Bystryn of the NYCLVEF pointed to parking policy as a reform that should be on the city's agenda.

Ariella Maron, Deputy Director of the Mayor's Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability, had given a thoroughly upbeat presentation about the city's accomplishments to an appreciative audience, but parking policy wasn't part of it.

I asked directly whether the city would address the antiquated zoning roles that require .4 units of parking for each apartment unit in an outer borough development, no matter its location. She responded briefly: "The city is looking at overall parking issues. There is planning and conversation around it."

Stay tuned. A reform of parking policy seems like a no-brainer, but, even so, it might be too late for Atlantic Yards--unless the plan is scrapped or revised.


  1. "PlaNYC 1950" about hits the nail on the head, because the ESDC, Bloomberg, and all of the big developers are definitely cribbing from the philosophies of Robert Moses.

    Lacking any sense of appropriate scale, incentivising vehicular traffic (more available to the wealthy), and fast-tracking demolitions are all too familiar concepts to anyone who has studied Moses' impact on the city. So too is tinkering with zoning when such becomes an easy means of enabling projects which would normally have to contend with red tape, ignoring the outcry of those most directly impacted by projects, and back-room dealings lacking any pretense of transparency or oversight.

    A forward-thinking New York should be looking to expand mass transit, and de-incentivise vehicular traffic. It was Moses that made suer that the bridges on the parkways were too low for buses and that the LIRR was not extended to Jones Beach to exclude poor minorities (in his words, "negroes") - by 2030, we should be looking to have put as much ground between us and Moses-style policy as possible.


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