Taking back parking

Out-of-town drivers put strain on Jersey City, Union City

A typical parking scene along the Jersey City/Union City border.
A typical parking scene along the Jersey City/Union City border.

Union City’s recent enforcement of a permit parking ordinance adopted last year has pushed more non-resident drivers to park in Jersey City’s Heights neighborhood, residents and officials in Jersey City say.
Because Union City was lax in enforcing the ordinance before, drivers from other parts of the state would come and park their cars there, then take the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail to work in New York City, according to Jersey City Ward D Councilman Michael Yun.
Neither Union City Mayor Brian Stack, nor the Union City Parking Authority, responded to repeated requests for comment.


The Union City Parking Authority sent letters to residents noting that on April 1, they would start promoting compliance with the ordinance.
The enforcement has led to non-local drivers parking around Paterson Plank Road, the border between The Heights and Union City, sources say. The neighborhood’s current parking ordinance only applies east of Central Avenue, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.
The Heights has long struggled with providing parking for its residents; the additional cars on its northern border helped force its hand.

A new ordinance

In April, Jersey City’s city council adopted an ordinance adjusting their previous parking one, bringing 24/7 zoned parking to the entire neighborhood. When the ordinance takes effect in May 2018, the year-round, non-residential parking permit cost of $300 under the current version will expand to the rest of The Heights.
“What we call, ‘outsiders’ to Jersey City, Union City, and North Bergen—like someone who lives in Nutley, for instance—they bring their cars to Jersey City, they park their cars on our street they get on the bus and go to New York City for work,” Yun said. He cited parking in The Heights as the number 1 issue among constituents when he was elected in 2013. In response, his office conducted public meetings and issued online surveys regarding parking.
“They’re making parking more difficult in daytime and nighttime.” – Michael Yun
“Those kinds of people—out-of-state plate holders– usually park their cars in North Bergen and Union City. But now they’re enforcing residential parking 24 hours so instead, they come here,” he said.
Ward D Candidate for Council Moriah Kinberg said, “Once it happened in Hoboken and Union City, it made sense for Jersey City Heights, which is on the border of those three cities.”
Kinberg, who is also part of the Heights Parking Committee, said. “Not because we’re upset the other cities are doing it, more because they’re just acknowledging a problem and they found a solution and we’re like, ‘Okay, let’s do something similar.’ ”

Following suit

Kinberg–a Heights resident–added that, “in my viewpoint, it was more of an acknowledgment that Union City recognized that parking got to the point where they had to do a 24 hour enforcement, and we decided to follow suit and do the same thing.”
“There’s definitely people from Union City parking,” said Kern Weissman, president of the Riverview Neighborhood Association, a neighborhood association primarily serving The Heights’ eastern side. “They may not be residents. They may be visitors. They may be workers. You see people walking over. It’s clear you do have some. I don’t know how pervasive it is though.”

North Bergen responds

While North Bergen also has a 24/7 residential zoning ordinance, town spokesman Phil Swibinski said that its enforcement goes back years.
“The enforcement is pretty strict throughout the year, because we’re very concerned about protecting spots for residents,” Swibinski said, confirming that the town has also dealt with non-residential parking problems. “It’s always a priority year round and there hasn’t been any increase.”
“One of the things they’ve done is open several parking lots in different neighborhoods whenever land becomes available and conditions are right,” Swibinski added, about how North Bergen is working to safeguard parking for residents. “The town will purchase the land and work with the Parking Authority to create a small lot where people can pay to rent the space, and that takes cars off the streets and create more parking.”
Lastly, he claimed that “If this program didn’t exist, we’d have hundreds of people taking spots during the day and night, commuting around New York City. We think that most residents are very happy with the program in place, even if they have to pay a small fee.”
Hannington Dia can be reached at hd@hudsonreporter.com