February 5, 2020

Hoboken intiatives to increase parking availability and convenience

The Hoboken Parking Utility is preparing to launch a series of initiatives aimed at improving parking availability and convenience.

On first reading for consideration by the City Council on Wednesday night is an ordinance establishing meter prices at $2.00 per hour in business district areas of the city.  If adopted on first and second reading, the adjusted meter rates will also coincide with a discount employee parking program. Employees of Hoboken-based businesses will be eligible for a discount parking rate of $5 for 12 hours in Garages B, D, and Midtown. At $5 for 12 hours, employees will be able to save 69% each day compared to parking on-street and feeding the meter for eight hours.

“The ordinance that will be introduced by the Hoboken City Council is a first step in the right direction,” said Maria Nieves, President of the Hoboken Chamber of Commerce. “If adopted, drivers parking their cars at many meters in Hoboken for an hour will continue to pay less than it costs to buy a medium-sized coffee at Starbucks. That's a good deal, especially as it will support local commerce. In fact, it may not go far enough, but it's a good start. Thus, we support this ordinance and we encourage our Members to similarly do so.”

“One of my priorities as Mayor has been to help enhance economic development within our business districts,” said Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla. “To this end, we attempted to use higher meter rates last year to help generate more parking turnover to free up curbside parking spaces in our business districts. While we learned that the change in curbside pricing finally helped to free up on-street parking spaces for customers, as well as reducing double parking, I recognize that the increase in pricing last year was too much, and too soon. This modified compromise of $2.00 per hour is proposed in partnership with the City Council Parking and Transportation subcommittee and will help improve on-street parking availability and convenience, and attract more customers to our local businesses.”

The City is also preparing to launch other initiatives in the coming days and weeks that will improve parking convenience.

Virtual Visitor Permits (VVP)

On Monday, February 10, the Hoboken Parking Utility will begin the soft launch of online virtual visitor permits. Residents will be able to purchase and activate visitor permits for their guests through any internet-enabled device without ever having to leave their homes or visit HPU again. For the first time ever, residents will have the option to purchase blocks of time for their visitors instead of scratching off hang tags that simply expire at midnight each use.

At launch, VVPs will cost $4 for four hours, $5 for eight hours, and $6 for 24 hours. Additionally, residents will have the option to enter the mobile phone number of their guest into the VVP and their guest will receive a text message notification alert 30 minutes before their VVP expires. Previously purchased visitor hang tag permits will still be permitted through the end of 2021.

Please click here for more information, including an FAQ and instructional videos for how to purchase and activate VVPs.

Real-Time On-Street Parking Availability

The City is also preparing to launch a six-month pilot parking sensor program on Washington Street. As part of the pilot program, HPU will be partnering with Civic Smart to install in-street vehicle detection sensors at 75 parking spaces along Washington Street between Newark Street and 4th Street. With the sensors, drivers will be able to see real time on-street parking availability on Washington Street through the ParkMobile app. More information about the parking sensor pilot program will be announced prior to launch in the coming weeks ahead.

Garage Improvements

Also in the coming weeks, the Hoboken Parking Utility will be upgrading parking access and revenue control systems (PARCS) in Garage B, Garage D, Garage G, and Midtown. The new PARC systems will include license plate recognition cameras, which will eliminate the need for transponders and streamline garage entry and exit. Additionally, state of the art parking guidance systems will be installed in each garage which will include exterior signage that tells drivers how many parking spaces are available in each garage in real time. The new PARC systems will also provide the ability for monthly costumers to pay online and visitors will be able to conveniently reserve parking spaces online before leaving home.

Additional information about the new PARC systems will be available in a follow up announcement prior to launch in the coming weeks.

On-Street Merchant Validations

In the coming weeks, HPU will be partnering with ParkMobile to offer an on-street merchant validation program. For the first time ever, merchants will be able to purchase promo codes from HPU, which can be used to validate parking meter fees for their customers. More information about this program will become available soon.

Full communication from Maria Nieves, President of Hoboken Chamber of Commerce, to Chamber members:

February 4, 2020

Dear Members,

There will be an ordinance introduced at the Hoboken City Council Meeting on Wednesday, February 5, to raise the rates charged at certain metered parking spaces. The "Ordinance Amending Chapter 190-29.8 Entitled Time Limit Location Parking and Fees to Amend Fees" proposes to raise the fees at certain meters within the business districts of Hoboken from $0.25/15 minutes to $$0.50/15 minutes. If approved, these rates would go into effect upon passage.

You may think I'm writing to you because the Chamber is not supportive of increasing the meter rates on streets such as First Street from Washington to Hudson, to pick just one example. But, in fact, the Chamber is very much in support of this ordinance. Why?

Free parking is not a public right. Every parking space within a city is being paid for in some manner by someone of us. Residential and business taxes are paying for the paving and maintenance of the spots on a public street or, if the spot is located in a private garage, a developer could have paid anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 to build each parking spot. That cost is passed on to residents, and other occupants of those buildings. If the cost is passed on to a retailer, then that retailer is passing it on to consumers. According to Donald Shoup, professor at UCLA and author of The High Cost of Free Parking, we're all paying for parking, even those of us who don't own cars.

"Free" parking, as well as low-cost meter parking, also has other negatives consequences. When drivers cruise around looking for a "free" or low-cost meter spot, it causes increasing traffic congestion. You may think this is trivial, but it isn't: Shoup has estimated that in a 15-block area in Los Angeles' Westwood Village alone, cars travel about 950,000 miles annually just cruising for parking, burning 47,000 gallons of gasoline and emitting 730 tons of carbon dioxide. Imagine what the impact of similar behavior is annually within Hoboken.

And as mentioned above, those "free" or low-cost meter spots are being subsidized by the public and consumers. In effect, we're all subsidizing driving. When there are "free" or low-cost spots, we encourage driving by making it less expensive than it truly is and that leads to more cars than there are available parking spots.

On the other hand, when we treat parking spaces as the commodities they really are and recognize that there is no such thing as a "free" or low-cost meter parking spot, then we will all reconsider our behavior. Drivers are more mindful of how much time they'll keep their car parked on the street, taking up valuable real estate. Because parking spots will thus turnover more quickly, drivers will cruise around town and businesses will have the potential to attract more consumers as more visitors and residents are able to get in and out of town. Others may opt out of driving all together and decide to take public transportation.

Finally, the burden for paying for parking will be placed directly on the owner of the vehicle, the users of the parking spots, and not other taxpayers. Other cities across the United States are beginning to recognize that parking is not a public good. It's time we do the same here in New Jersey and in Hoboken.

The ordinance that will be introduced by the Hoboken City Council tomorrow night is a first step in the right direction. The increase raises the cost of a parking space from $1/hour to just $2/hour. That means drivers parking their cars at many meters in Hoboken for an hour will continue to pay less than it costs to buy a medium-sized coffee at Starbucks.

That's a good deal, especially as it will support local commerce. In fact, it may not go far enough, but it's a good start. Thus, we support this ordinance and we encourage our Members to similarly do so.

We Want to Hear From Our Members
We continue to be proactive in reaching out to the City to ensure that the options for local business are readily available and that the overall goals of parking related initiatives support local businesses. As always, we also want to make sure the concerns of our members are addressed.

We're sure you will have both questions and concerns about this ordinance. We want to know what those are. Please feel free to email us at the Hoboken Chamber at info@hobokenchamber.com. You can also contact me directly at mnieves@hudsonchamber.org.


Maria Nieves
President & CEO, Hudson County Chamber of Commerce