There are some 5,000 private driveways in Bayonne and scarce parking space, so residents often like to park in front of their driveways, much to the irritation of their parking-starved neighbors. Doing so is technically illegal, but rarely enforced. Police are sometimes called to resolve the disputes with enforcement, while rifts between neighbors can devolve and spread into other confrontations.Meanwhile, social media pages are littered with photos of perceived parking wrongs, as commuters circle the block looking for spots.
If the council passes the ordinance at the April 18 meeting, which requires Mayor James Davis’s approval,any household in which the vehicle and driveway are owned by the same people can apply for up to three permits in the form of placards that must be displayed in the window of the vehicle. State law dictates that if a municipality allows this kind of parking, a permit must be issued.
Some driveways will not qualify if parking in front is prohibited for reasons such as proximity to fire hydrants, a bus stop, a corner, or in any way interferes with the normal flow of traffic.
The ordinance, as introduced, would have charged a $50 annual fee to cover the cost of printing the permits, administration, and manually surveying every driveway, while likely generating some revenue, but the council later found the fee impractical and decided against it.
“There’s a good reason for a permit, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to charge,” said Third Ward Councilman Gary La Pelusa.
Because driveway blocking is already a common practice that doesn’t cost anything, residents were skeptical of a $50 annual fee. Why people charge for something can get for free?
“A revenue-generating mindset is not behind this,” said City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski.“We’re just trying to alleviate the parking problem.”
“We’re just trying to alleviate the parking problem.”-- City Council President Sharon Ashe-Nadrowski.
Bayonne, like most cities, was not designed to accommodate a lot of cars, let alone multiple-car households.
“The truth is that when we were kids, we didn’t have two, three cars in the family,” said Ashe-Nadrowski.“People used to share cars, although many people are going back to fewer cars, especially near the light rails.”
Not only did most families generally have only one car,but the family could park it on the street, in front of the house, in alleys behind the house, on the side of the house, in a detached garage, in front of the driveway—basically in any space not used by pedestrians.
Since 1960, U.S. population rose by about 180 percent, while the number of cars rose by more than 350 percent, according U.S. Census and Department of Transportation data. A simultaneous increase in the supply of carsand decrease in park-able space results in parking scarcity, which brings the city to the current moment.
The development factor
New residential developments usually include some internal parking structure. Barnabas Health on Broadway, for instance, was constructed with more than 300 spaces, free to the public.
At least one mayoral candidate has weighed in on the issue. The day after the meeting, mayoral hopeful, Jason O’Donnell, called the permit fee a “tax” and a “money grab,” and that “Mayor Davis needs to be told to stay out of our pockets.”
In a press release, he said, “Rather than propose a creative solution that uses existing resources to address the crippling parking issue in Bayonne, Jimmy’s Council once again did what they do best- hit the taxpayer in the pocket.”
Rory Pasquariello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.