• Dynamic Parking Prices in Hoboken: The Public’s Response

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    The new parking policies in Hoboken have been controversial, to say the least. The lack of parking and increase in prices has concerned residents and small business owners. The city initiated these changes in an effort to alleviate the parking issue in Hoboken. However, the results prompt further questions on how to solve the parking issue in Hoboken.

    hoboken parking lot full

    ^A completely full lot — which has been shared by the City as part of the “daily debit” program. Many Hoboken business employees are being declined daily debit parking passes now as the program only has limited space for local employees.

    The Dynamic Pricing Policy

    The goal of dynamic pricing was to allow for more street parking by increasing rates at more active times, therefore discouraging longterm parkers. In turn, this would allow customers to park and shop at local businesses for short periods of time, at little cost. To take pressure off of those who need longer parking {business owners, employees, etc.}, parking garage rates were decreased.

    The concept of dynamic pricing was tested in a pilot program in Pittsburgh by two Carnegie Mellon professors, Mark Fichman and Stephen Spear. Their idea was that dynamic pricing would equalize that supply and demand for parking. Their study resulted in parking pricing increasing less than 50 cents on the streets tested, and decreasing on surrounding streets. Fichman noted, “[If the] price is too low … the parking gets all filled up and basically you arrive there and you can’t park…if the price is too high, no one parks there. So finding the right price is kind of key.”

    The study focused on parking prices and the impact on drivers, rather than the impact on businesses. It assumes a lack of parking will encourage walking {or public transportation} as an alternative, missing the fact that potential customers may, instead, go to larger stores with more parking.

    In defense of dynamic pricing, parking expert Donald Shoup explains how parking spaces are more beneficial as pick-up/drop-off spots for ride-share apps {Lyft, Uber, etc.}. He says, “You know what the market price for parked cars is; you might say that this space will be more productive as a loading zone…More loading areas will make traffic flow better and more safely.” This would also mean more foot traffic and more activity for small businesses.

    The Daily Debit Program

    In response to a business owner’s complaint about the parking situation, Mayor Ravi Bhalla stated, “…The dynamic pricing was based on data and analysis of parking availability in different areas of the City at different hours. We found that because it was cheaper to park on the street and feed a meter than park at a garage, many employees were parking on the street and taking up spots that could be used for customers.”

    As Mayor Bhalla mentioned, the city designed the dynamic pricing procedures to encourage employees to park in garages. The Daily Debit Program, a $5/day parking pass for garages, offers employees a reprieve from paying for parking while they work. However, Hoboken Girl’s own EIC Jennifer Tripucka has seen inaccuracies within the program. “I was signed up for the $5 daily debit program,” she says, “only to find the lot I’m supposed to park in 100% full today.”

    Having the Daily Debit pass should guarantee employees parking, but instead could force some to find alternative parking on the street. This takes away parking spaces for customers, thus taking away business from local shops.

    The Public’s Take

    Ever since the initiative went into action on March 4th, Hoboken’s residents and business owners have received it in a variety of ways. Some are for it and some are against it, and we were able to get locals to weigh in on their feelings towards the new dynamic parking plan.

    THOSE AGAINST THE CHANGES:

    “I don’t think I even realized the severity of the parking changes until now when I looked on a map. We received a letter in the mail at my business but not a map, with details and examples of situations. This will be hurting my business indefinitely. I own two hair salons in Hoboken, where clients stay for a few hours for services, and they’ve been pushing their parking limits the past year.”

    – Niki Klaczany, resident and Hoboken business owner 

    “I didn’t really have a dog in the fight until it affected my customers. They weren’t sure how it worked or where to find cheaper parking. When consumers come into town, they want to simply find a spot, shop for an hour or two, and leave. They aren’t interested in comparing dynamic rates and researching which lot to park in. I appreciate the initiative, but keeping it simple is the way to go.”

    – Phil Zanardi, resident and Hoboken business owner

    “My business, Salon Gatto located at 22 Hudson Place, has been open for 4+ years and employs 20 people. Half of which depend on driving to work. The City’s lack of communication and preparation blindsided my employees with a 260% cost increase and left them scrambling to find a solution. The increase to $35 a day to park is unsustainable for anyone in the workforce. As someone whose goal is to build and grow a business, I have to question if Hoboken is the right place to expand and invest in the future. This policy will weaken our economy. Without employees, we have no businesses, without businesses in our community why live here?”

    – Christine Gatto, resident and Hoboken business owner

    “The parking is not only inconsiderate for the older generation who are not smartphone savvy but is now going to dissuade customers from shopping locally at Hoboken businesses. They may be making a few extra dollars on parking, but the long term consequence will be much more expensive.  The quaint Hoboken stores that give our town its charm will no longer be able to survive – it’s sad,”

    – Michelle Lee Mirza, Hoboken resident

    “Cost me $8.00 to attend a school meeting tonight. As much as I would love to take the HOP, I live in Western Hoboken, and my kids go to school uptown and have activities all over (sometimes simultaneously). I lived in this town for 15 years without driving so I get the opposition however over the past 5, I am forced to drive which completely stinks. We used to have a fun thing between me and the kids, wherever we could find a place on Washington we would eat & shop versus going home in between activities. Now we just go home and rally back out in 20-30 minutes. I can’t afford to dump 7 bucks in the meter whenever I have an hour or so to spare. I know that’s a lot but I’m clearly frustrated.

    Anna Langella-Stanin, Hoboken resident

    “The problem with dynamic parking is that you don’t know the price until after you find a spot and park. If it was supposed to be a deterrent to street parking that drives people to garages, it fails in that regard. Once someone finds a spot, they aren’t going to give it up due to cost.”

    Sandra Walczak Chance

    “I’m one of the owners of the Hudson Yoga Project in downtown Hoboken. In the past week, we have already had 6 of our clients relay their concerns regarding parking. These clients are Hoboken residents who live Uptown, as well as residents from Weehawken, Jersey City, and even Montclair who drive to downtown Hoboken specifically to go to our studio. These clients came to take class at our studio, most at 12:30 in the afternoon, and paid $7 to park on the street for 2 hours. They also relayed that there were MANY spots on the street at the time they parked, and therefore there was no need for “surge” pricing for parking- $.90 for 15 minutes. All of them said that they will be canceling their membership at our studio if they have to pay $7 to park for 2 hours every time they come to class (usually 3-4 times per week) because they can’t afford to pay an extra $80+ per month just to come to our studio. This would decrease our revenue by hundreds of dollars per month for us, a result directly related to these changes in parking.

    I am also a Hoboken resident. I live Uptown and I walk to work pretty much every day. I also have a membership to NJ Bike Share as well. The walkability is one of the things I love about living here. However, there are occasions where I need to run an errand in town and need to save the time walking by driving back and forth. If I have to park downtown in Hoboken for any reason, it seem absurd to me that I would need to pay $.90 for 15 minutes. The other issue I have with this is that they didn’t just raise the prices to a reasonable amount, it can be almost a 300% increase to park on the street.  What I’m not clear on is why offering more affordable garage parking has to go hand in hand with raising street parking. Looking for a spot can be challenging, so by default if more affordable garage parking were available I would prefer to do that. There is no need to raise street parking prices in order to achieve that result. We have seen an unheard of number of local businesses close in Hoboken in these last few years. If the City continues to make changes that make it even more expensive for people to come visit our city and frequent local businesses, I expect that trend will sadly continue.”

    — Kate Lombardo, local business owner and Hoboken resident

    “This new change feels so personal to the residents, business owners, and visitors. The town should want us to thrive as a community, but this feels like the people in charge are against us. How can I invite people over to this amazing town when it will not only be tough to find a spot, but now my friends and family have to actually BUDGET for street parking? And I can’t even tell them exactly how much it costs, since it’s different all over and it’s ‘dynamic’. The pricing is straight up offensive. We pay so much to live here, businesses pay a ton to have space in this town and we all pay whatever we need to in order to frequent businesses we love and support. I’ll pay $2+ to park downtown and grab lunch, there’s nothing unfair about the old pricing. This new pricing is now putting so many people in a position where they actually can’t afford lunch out AND parking. It’s terrible.”

    – Morgan Gertler, Hoboken resident

    “I don’t typically get involved in too many of these discussions but I’m completely appalled by this. I’m a visitor (I live in Edgewater) but I spend much time in town and have so for over 20 years. Slowly I have started to spend less time in town and this is another major factor. I’m actually willing to drive further to places like Montclair for restaurants or yoga classes because of this. Last Friday I went for an acupuncture appointment and was shocked by the parking price for 1.5 hours. I love my acupuncturist so I feel like I don’t have a choice but I will certainly not be visiting Hoboken for any other activities unless absolutely necessary. I work in NYC and the parking in the City seems to be preferable to this mess that Hoboken has created. ”

    – Ibis, Edgewater resident

    Our Editor-in-chief, Jennifer Tripucka, shares:

    “As a resident and a business owner here, I’m quite unhappy, as are my colleagues. I sometimes have to drive downtown with boxes to bring to my office, or I have meetings in JC so need to drive to my downtown Hoboken office for a bit and then continue on my way. Today, I paid $8.10 for parking for 2 hours and 15 minutes downtown — which is crazy. What makes matters worse is that I was signed up for the $5 daily debit program, only to find the lot I’m supposed to park in 100% full today.”

     

    THOSE FOR THE CHANGES:

    “I’m glad to see the city taking steps to fix the parking situation. We need dynamic pricing to address our parking issues. People are never going to like higher prices, but our low cost of parking just encourages people to park all-day-long on our streets when they should be using parking garages. We want to create a higher turnover on busy streets so that people can park, shop, and leave. If someone wants to park for a long period of time they should use a parking garage. For those that complain about family visiting from out-of-town, you can buy a $5 street parking pass – I do this when my 77-year-old mother visits me from Philadelphia.”

    Sean Iaquinto, Hoboken resident

    I actually like the change of parking rules. It gets people off the street and into the garages. I, as a resident, can find parking around town more easily so I am doing more shopping and dining in town as opposed to driving out of town. But the city could have done a better job communicating all this and make available more garage parking outside of the downtown Path area,”

    – Linda Kwok, Hoboken resident

    “Personally, i agree with the parking changes. It has made residential permit parking more available. Guests should utilize the soon-to-be cheaper garages. The increases are consistent with parking prices in other popular cities in the area. People who want / need to visit will. Residents can use guest passes and i think it’s great that business employees are able to receive discounted parking in garages.”

    – Jessica, Hoboken resident

     

    The Impact

    The larger implication of these parking changes is how they will affect the economy and small-business culture of Hoboken. Some businesses are already grappling with them.

    I was trying to throw a big event in Hoboken that would have been good for a few businesses but when pitching the idea everyone agreed the parking problem was prohibitive so we took our event to another city. That was a shame,” says Savvy Atkinson, a local business owner.

    Some residents are struggling with more practical factors of the changes. Jennifer Van Savage says, “I am still trying to understand how the changes got passed. We live on a residential block where it is now required to use the Parkmobile app and pay for parking. It discourages friends and family to visit and took our family members 30 minutes to figure out how to download the app, enter their credit card, and pay. It discriminates against those who don’t have a smartphone, whether by choice, affordability, in some cases, religion prohibits the use.”

    As the parking woes continue, Mayor Bhalla assures businesses that he is actively considering the public’s opinion. He’s responded via email to Team HG .

    “We found that because it as cheaper to park on the street and feed a meter than park at a garage, many employees were parking on the street and taking up spots that could be used for customers.  Our goal was to have 15% availability of parking on any given block at any given time.  This is as much an art as a science but this was a policy objective to make sure adequate parking was available for customers to enjoy Hoboken businesses.

    This was matched with a steep reduction for Hoboken employees – $5 per day – to park in our municipal garages, making this option much more affordable than street parking.  As far as the added cost of parking ($7 for 2 hrs as you mentioned below), our parking department researched rates in other cities nationwide to ensure that we are charging for parking at a rate that is on par with other cities around the country (i.e., we are not charging too little and not charging too much).

    The parking structure reflects what we determined to a reasonable balance which would also (matched with the $5/day garage incentive) make parking more available for customers of businesses and encourage turnover and thereby more parking.Another aspect of our policies are to de-incentive reliance upon vehicles. For example, I often use Hudson Bikeshare getting around town because its cheap and convenient, or walk if practical.Our overarching goal is to implement a system of parking that creates the greatest possible degree of fairness and practicality for the greatest number of businesses, residents, and visitors,” he says. “To the extent, we are not achieving this objective, I am open to re-evaluating and recommending changes to the policies below that were adopted by the City Council.”

    For those interested in changing Hoboken’s current parking situation, feel free to sign the Change Hoboken, NJ Parking petition to Hoboken City Council, started by Andrew Impastato.

    How has dynamic parking affected you? Let us know in the comments! 


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    2 comments

    • I paid $7.00 to take a yoga class tonight, absolutely ridiculous. Going forward, I’ll drive to JC or other surronding areas to avoid this.

      Reply
    • There are people that work in parts of jersey who need to use their cars.Ever since the last mayor they continue to do away with parking spots.Some of the red lines are illegal.They are so long ,you can fit a bus in them.Then you have the bus stops that you can fit a plane in.When was the last time you saw a bus pull into the stop anyway.I can continue but for another day.

      Reply

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