Parking was the main topic of discussion during the nearly three-hour meeting of the Hoboken City Council on Oct. 3.
In a 7-2 vote, the council approved an ordinance to change the penalty for those who park in a spot without having the right permit. The new ordinance will remove the penalty of being booted. As it stands now, improperly parked cars are ticketed, then booted, and after 48 hours they are towed. But in the future, the cars will get a ticket, no boot, and will still be towed. This allows the cars to possibly leave the spot faster, freeing up parking.
Booting and towing became controversial a number of years ago, as cars were booted or towed quickly if they were parked in the wrong place. The city addressed that process after it was highlighted through stories in the media and complaints from the public.
Councilman Michael DeFusco, who sponsored Wednesday’s ordinance– which will go into effect 20 days after the vote — said he finds booting an archaic practice and believes that the new ordinance will help free up on-street parking for law-abiding residents.
At the same meeting, the Hoboken City Council also postponed a final vote on three ordinances that will increase fees for parking violation penalties, and will also increase meter rates and rates in the public garages.
According to City Council President Ruben Ramos, the matters will return to the agenda for a final vote during the Nov. 7 council meeting.
The council also voted against a new pilot program to try placing temporary “no parking” signs earlier in advance than usual, to warn residents. A subcommittee may revise it.
They also approved a contract for nearly $92,000 to upgrade the online permitting process on the city’s website.
Three ordinances to raise fees
As for the three introduced ordinances, they’ll have a variety of effects on fines and parking meter fees, if approved at the Nov. 7 meeting.
One ordinance would increase fines for drivers who violate curbside regulations such as parking in a permit-only zone, parking in a bus stop, or parking at the meter without paying on time.
The fine for parking in a permit-parking only zone is $68, but would increase to $80.
Currently, a fine for parking at a bus stop is $53, but it would be increased to $98. The fine for parking commercial vehicles overnight would increase from $75 to $105.
And the fine for an overrun meter would increase from $30 to $45.
The fines would increase to “better effectuate safe, orderly and efficient use of public space and scarce curbside resources.”
The ordinance notes that “parking violations and penalties have gone largely unchanged for over 10 years.” Revenue would help pay for new parking enforcement officers, license plate recognition cameras, and software.
The second ordinance would “implement dynamic pricing for meters” based on factors such as parking demand, adjacent land uses, or peak periods throughout different areas of the city. Some meters will see rate increases. For instance, the majority of meters placed in residential areas west of Washington Street will cost 50 cents for every 15 minutes, while the majority of meters along Washington Street from observer highway to Seventh Street, near the train station, and on the waterfront, 90 cents for every 15 minutes.
The revenue will provide for infrastructure improvements as well as a possible “shop hop” trolley bus service for the business district.
Recently the city has had an issue with temporary no parking signs.
The third proposed parking ordinance would increase rates at municipal parking garages, as they are approximately “30 percent below market rate.”
The new rates for a monthly standard parking pass for residents at four municipal parking garages, Garage B, Garage D, Garage G, and Midtown, increase from $235 to $250, $185 to $240, $160 to $200, $185 to $235, respectively. Garden Street garage remains the same at $200.
The revenues generated from price increases will be reinvested into improvements to off-street municipal parking facilities.
Temporary ‘No Parking’
The director of parking and transportation for the city, Ryan Sharp, said at the meeting that some temporary “no parking” signs are unenforceable because the signs are put up within the 72-hour window instead, leaving car owners with no notice.
The Reporter reported last year that many cars were towed because the drivers parked them before “temporary no parking” signs were posted, and the drivers were unaware.
The ordinance that the council voted down was going to start a pilot program which would have required that some temporary no parking signs be posted seven days prior.
Councilman Peter Cunningham said that residents would often go on vacation for a week and return to find their car had been towed because the signs were posted after they have left.
Councilman Michael Russo, who heads the Parking and Transportation Subcommittee, said he’d revise the ordinance about more notice, for a future reading.
The council approved a contract for $91,809 with SecureWatch24 to upgrade the parking utility’s existing outcall system for emergencies. It would also upgrade their parking management system so the Hoboken Parking Utility could create new products and permits based on license plate recognition.
Resident Andrew Impastato, who owns a local parking app Parking Dude, asked the council not to award the contract, saying all of this can be done at less cost with a user-friendly mobile app.
“I don’t want to see $91,000 on tech be spent that in a few years you will replace with a mobile app,” said Impastato. “Vote no and launch an RFP for a mobile app that addresses all these features and creates a foundation that can be added to.”
Russo said the council and the committee “is working tirelessly doing what we can for this city,” and to fix the parking issues it faces.
He said the committee hopes to fast-track an app that would be created for the city which could own and operate it instead of turning to someone else.