MAYOR'S PARKING 'OFFENSE'
TRAFFIC STUDY RIPS RULE
By TOM TOPOUSIS
Posted: 3:44 am
October 14, 2008
Mayor Bloomberg waged his fierce campaign to slash traffic through congestion pricing even as his administration's parking policies encouraged more people to drive to work, a study released today has found.
The City Planning Department's requirement for off-street parking at new housing developments varies by neighborhood, with some sections requiring as much as a sin gle parking space for every new unit - a policy the study's authors suggest has increased traffic.
"City Planning's parking require ments encourage driving. Car owners with a guaranteed spot at home are more likely to drive to work," said Paul Steely White, ex ecutive director of Transporta tion Alternatives, one of eight groups endorsing the study.
The study compared Jackson Heights, Queens, with Park Slope, Brooklyn, both of which are about the same distance from Midtown Manhattan and are served by mass transit, but vary dramatically in the availability of off-street parking.
In Jackson Heights, car owners are twice as likely to have off-street parking and, as a result, the study's authors say, are 45 percent more likely to drive to work in Manhattan than those in Park Slope, which has a higher rate of car-ownership per household.
City zoning outside of Manhattan requires anywhere from four spaces for every 10 units of housing to a single parking space for each new housing unit. In Manhattan, because of clean-air requirements, the minimum parking ranges as low as two spaces for every 10 units of new housing.
About 16 percent of the housing in Jackson Heights has been built since the city rules on off-street parking were instituted, double the rate in Park Slope.
The coalition of groups, also including the Environmental Defense Fund, the Straphangers Campaign, the Municipal Art Society and the Regional Plan Association, issued the study to get the city to reduce requirements for off-street parking.
A companion study released by Transportation Alternatives in August found that new housing projected to be built by 2030 would put an additional 170,000 cars on the street if the residential development meets current off-street parking rules.
City Planning spokeswoman Rachelle Raynoff said the department is reviewing a wide range of policies aimed at reducing the use of cars while working to steer new development toward areas with mass transit.
"We met with Transportation Alternatives on Friday to discuss its study and our ongoing review of parking regulations citywide and will continue the dialogue in partnership with DOT [the Department of Transportation]," she said.