They’re taking to the street.
Nearly 1,000 New Yorkers with cars are calling on the city to change the cutthroat parking game — for good.
In May, Renee Baruch, a retired lawyer living on the Upper West Side, launched NYC Resident Parking. The coalition is trying to convince the city to dedicate a majority or large portion of spaces on residential roads exclusively for parking for nearby residents. Several hundred locals have signed on to the cause.
“It’s not a novel idea. New York is behind the times with this, as almost every major city has a residential parking program,” Baruch told The Post, citing nearby Hoboken, New Jersey, as well as larger US cities Boston and Philadelphia, in addition to London and Paris.
But in the Big Apple, the idea of dedicating street parking to residents has never quite caught on. It was floated in 2018 by then-northern Manhattan City Councilman-turned-Department of Transportation Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, but it wasn’t approved by the de Blasio administration.
He and Mayor Eric Adams might try putting it in gear again, according to Crain’s New York Business. Adams announced $900 million in funding last April for his five-year NYC Streets Plan that “aims to reform on-street parking.” His plan targets “unregulated on-street parking” and seeks to increase pedestrian, bike and bus space.
Baruch wants the city to extend dedicated parking permits not just to residents, but to local business owners and employees, too. To get the word out, Baruch canvasses in her neighborhood on mornings when alternate side parking — which was recently fully reinstated after the city scaled it back during the pandemic — is in effect.
She knows her car-owning neighbors will be ready for action, “because parking is so scarce and so difficult.”
“It’s kind of this bloodsport to get back into the space. I’ve been there, and it is scary,” Baruch said, mentioning that her car has gotten dinged up by sloppy parallel parkers over the years.
And space has only gotten tighter. From August to October 2020, there was a 76% rise in Manhattan car registrations and a 45% increase in Brooklyn vehicles compared to that time period the year prior, the New York Times reported. Meanwhile, subway ridership is down to just 59% of pre-pandemic levels, according to amNY.
Baruch complains that nowadays, she often has to park a good 20 blocks away from her home. Once, she even had to take a spot all the way by the East River and Uber back over 30 blocks and several avenues, she said.
Part of the problem, she said, is all of the out-of-state vehicles hogging valuable street real estate on the Upper West Side.
“Many people in the affluent areas of the city have second homes, and they register their cars to their second homes, they vote at their second homes,” she said. “They do all of this to avoid paying income taxes in New York City, and they get to park.”
Meanwhile, tax-paying city dwellers are suffering an “untenable” situation, exacerbated by outdoor dining stalls and bike-share docks, Baruch said. Garage fees, which can run up to $1,000 a month on the UWS, are not an option for most drivers, coalition member Linda Alexander added.
In cities with existing parking programs, the permits are not free. San Francisco residents pay $100 per year to park on the street, while the same privilege costs an annual $35 in Washington, DC, and $25 in Chicago, per the Federal Highway Administration.
Research from New York University and the City University of New York found in 2014 that 53% of surveyed New Yorkers would be willing to pay a whopping $408 per year for a parking permit, StreetsBlog NYC reported, with the average response coming out to about $215 annually.
Still, when it comes to widespread political support for better parking in New York, the tank might come up empty.
“The reality is you can’t find a parking spot because too many people on your block own cars,” Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said earlier this year. “I think you have the right to buy as many cars as you want, but with it will come the responsibility and the burden of trying to find a parking spot.”