I walked into the meeting about parking in Kearny believing we would be presented a plan to deal with the long-standing issue of parking in our town. Instead, as the mayor stated that night, we were essentially “starting from scratch.” But in 2019, the town paid Neglia Engineering for an extensive, 38-page study focused on parking permits and three years later, we still don’t have a plan.
During the meeting, we were presented with an idea to set up a private parking authority that would sell permits and monitor parked vehicles to ensure that they have a permit. The representative of this proposed authority admitted he does not know, nor does his company intend, to find out how many parking spaces are available throughout town. I believe we can easily estimate the number of spaces in town by finally drawing parking lines on our streets.
According to the 2019 parking study, we had about 38,200 vehicles in Kearny at the time, but only an estimated 15,000 parking spaces. That’s a shortfall of roughly 23,000 spaces. Selling permits in anenvironment like this reminds me of airlines overbooking their planes and booting passengers off flights, except here we are doing this to our own residents.
With not enough parking spaces versus the number of potential permits issued, our residents would be forced to purchase worthless permits they cannot use, and they also run the risk of paying a parking summons, when they are forced to park illegally. Further complicating the issue, the company would also be selling temporary 24–hour permits to overnight guests, which means even less spaces for residents.
Is this a viable solution to our town’s parking woes or just another way to financially squeeze our residents in an already tough national economic environment?
Instead, to help alleviate parking issues in town, we must first increase supply by creating more parking spaces to meet our 23,000–space shortfall and our ever-growing demand. In addition, we must curb this growing demand, by introducing viable public–transportation options, such as a light rail. Lastly, we must continue to enforce the parking rules and ordinances already on the books, before adding new ones.
If we, as a community, still determine permits are needed, we should initially limit the program to select target areas to test it, mainly on the south side of town bordering East Newark and Harrison, before we roll it out everywhere throughout town.