According to Corea, the city has begun an advertising campaign to make commuters and residents aware that there are monthly parking spaces available in the city's parking garages, which he said have in the past been "grossly under-managed."
An example he gave was the 744-car St. Mary Garage on Clinton Street, between Third and Fourth streets. Since it opened in March 2003, he said, there haven't been any cars on the building roof, which contains 155 parking spaces.
"What I couldn't understand," said Corea, "is why this roof is empty but we still had a 244-name waiting list for that garage."
He said there were similar situations in the city's other garages, where there were several levels of dust-coated, empty parking spaces, but when people called to get information about getting into the garage, they were told that there was a waiting list.
"A lot of residents were frustrated because they were receiving conflicting information," he said. "They saw there were empty spaces, but were still put on a waiting list."
He said in the past couple of months the HPU has stepped up its efforts to contact the names on the waiting list, and get them into the garages. He produced an occupancy/vacancy spreadsheet that shows that substantial progress has been made on this front. In the past three months, approximately 200 new monthly customers have been put into the city's garages. He said that not only does that take cars off the streets, but 200 cars generate over $341,000 in additional revenue.
"Right now we have eliminated the wait lists in all garages, except the automated garage at 916 Garden St.," said Corea. At 916 Garden, technicians are in process of completing some final programming that Corea believes will increase capacity from the current 224 cars to a full capacity of 314 cars.
"If we are able to increase the capacity to 314 cars, then we will come very close to eliminating the wait list at that garage also," said Corea. "We want people to know that if they call us they will be placed in a garage."
Corea also has reached an agreement with Central Parking, the company that manages the garages, to reduce labor by 360 hours per week, a savings of $280,800 per year. This will be done by reducing the number of cashiers on duty and by changing Garage G on Hudson Street from a mix of hourly and monthly spaces to monthly parking only. By making it monthly only, said Corea, there will no longer be a need to have cashiers at that garage to collect money from hourly customers.
"While $280,800 may not seem like huge savings," said Corea, "when you consider that our entire overhead [for garages B, D, G and midtown] is around $1.3 million, we're saving over 20 percent of the operating budget for those [facilities]."
He added that security will not be sacrificed by reducing labor, because the HPU has recently installed $20,000 in surveillance equipment, which will be paid for by the savings from the management contract. Also, on weekends the HPU will continue to employ a Hoboken police officer to patrol the garages.
The HPU officials also produced documentation that all 28 of its parking enforcement officers are now state certified. At the beginning of the year, according to city records, only 14 were certified. Corea said that in addition to being better trained, the benefit is that all enforcement officers can write tickets for all non-moving violations.
"Now we are focusing on increased enforcement on violations that directly affect safety," said Corea. "We are really cracking down on cars that park in crosswalks and in front of fire hydrants. It is something that is no longer going to be tolerated."
He added that within the next couple of weeks he expects to have a detailed enforcement report that will illustrate how many more tickets and what type of tickets enforcement officers are writing.
The HPU can be reached at (201) 653-1919.