Saturday, May 25, 2024

Recap: People, Parking, and Planning

Underpriced and over-supplied parking has long hindered the efficient use of valuable urban space. On September 28th 2023, Downtown New Jersey and NJTOD hosted the latest TOD in Your Downtown Forum to explore the challenges associated with current parking standards, ongoing legislative developments, and creative strategies to use existing under-utilized parking spaces.

The panel brought together a diverse range of expertise and included:

  • Jee Mee Kim-Diaz, City Executive, NYC Region/Vice President at Arcadis
  • Kristen Mitchell, Director, TOD at NJ TRANSIT
  • Debra Tantleff, Founding Principal at TANTUM
  • Jim Zullo, President at THA Consulting, Inc.
Our panel and moderator (r-l): Kristen Mitchell, Jee Mee Kim-Diaz, Jim Zullo, Debra Tantleff, and Zoe Baldwin

Moderating the panel discussion, Zoe Baldwin, New Jersey Director at the Regional Plan Association (RPA) shed light on the gravity of the problem: there are 2 billion parking spots for 332 million people in the US. She explored the multiple ways this impacts the quality of urban life, making housing unaffordable, encouraging sprawl and a reliance on personal vehicles, increasing the risk of surface runoff, and severely hampering mobility for pedestrians and cyclists. The discussion also brought to light a study conducted by the Rutgers Center for Real Estate that captures real-time data on parking usage at 157 residential properties in New Jersey and reveals that parking is severely underutilized across various types of apartment buildings.

The panelists also explored ongoing efforts to modernize State and local parking standards.  Earlier this year, the State Senate passed Bill S3605, which proposes substantial reductions in parking requirements for transit-proximal areas. If enacted, the measure would significantly reduce parking requirements, with quality train stations or specific bus line numbers leading to a 50, 30, or 20 percent decrease. Read more about the bill here.

Beyond legislative progress, the discussion delved into potential strategies to increase utility from existing parking spots, including shared parking and effective pricing strategies, with panelists pointing to successful examples in New Jersey, like Metuchen, Rahway, and Hackensack. All panelists agreed that changing public perception around parking is key to any future advancement. Although parking remains inherently political, the paradigm shift in people’s attitudes toward driving since 2020 opens up significant opportunities for reducing parking in downtown, transit-friendly areas throughout the State.

The discussion was followed by a Q and A session, with practitioners sharing their experiences of navigating underutilized parking, devising innovative strategies to maximize utility from existing spots, and dealing with public perception around reducing parking.

A video recording of the session can be found here.

The TOD in Your Downtown Forum Series aims to advance efforts to implement TOD in New Jersey’s diverse communities by providing opportunities for practitioners and members of the public to gather and share experiences. If you would like to suggest a topic for the next TOD in Your Downtown Forum, please send us an email at: