The Hoboken City Council has adopted a resolution recommending parking measures the city should institute during the pandemic, but Mayor Ravi Bhalla sees problems ahead with the proposals.
The council adopted a resolution at its March 18 virtual council meeting which recommended that the administration reconsider its enforcement of metered parking spots, because many residents are working from home during the pandemic.
But Mayor Ravi Bhalla says the Office of Emergency Management has recommended meters remain in effect. Paid parking creates turnover of parking spots that are available for critical needs, including residents who need to travel by car to doctors’ offices, supermarkets, and healthcare facilities.
“To suspend meters would turn Hoboken streets in commercial districts into a parking lot, especially with street sweeping suspended, with no parking for those who need spots for critical needs,” said Bhalla after the March 18 resolution. “Additionally, suspending meters for a long period of time with limited parking spots would likely result in cars beginning to park illegally at corners and other locations, which would hinder emergency vehicles from making wide turns and delay emergency responses.”
The new April 1 resolution, sponsored by Councilman Michael DeFusco and Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, recommends that there should be no parking-meter enforcement within the city, except along Washington Street, 14th Street, and First Street.
According to the resolution, over the last two weeks parking enforcement officers have “quietly expressed concern with the decision to regulate meters, risking their health to be out on the streets.”
The resolution recommends that restaurants that are willing and qualified should be offered reserved “no parking” in front of their establishments to permit guests and delivery drivers to pick up food orders, a system already in effect in Bayonne. This aims to limit social interactions and increase social distancing because residents can pull up directly in front of a restaurant, get their food, and pull away.
Last, the resolution recommends that parking in the midtown garage should be made free, or significantly discounted, for medical employees working at Hoboken University Medical Center. A larger than usual number of HUMC employees have been using their personal vehicles to commute to work, but can’t afford to park in the municipal garage
Discounted HUMC parking
During the virtual council meeting on April 1, the city’s Director of Operations Jason Freeman said that the city has already started offering discounted parking to HUMC employees for $1 which will last for the duration of the pandemic.
He said employees can contact the city’s parking utility for a parking pass for $1 a day parking at the midtown garage or on the street. Employees need only provide verification that they work for the hospital.
“That’s great to know, Director, because the resident that received a ticket today who is a nurse at the hospital that called me wasn’t aware of that,” DeFusco said. “I think that resolutions such as this serve to alert our community of where we stand, so the more you can do to get that new policy out … the better we’re all going to be, so I appreciate you taking that proactive step.”
DeFusco said he has seen a number of metered spots go unused throughout the city, which is why he introduced the resolution.
The resolution was adopted 6-3 with council members Phil Cohen, Jim Doyle, and Emily Jabbour dissenting.