Community groups learned from Empire State Development Corporation CEO Kenneth Adams on May 2 that less than half of the 1,100 parking spaces required for arena patrons in ESDC’s 2006 and 2009 development agreements with Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) would be available at the opening of Barclays Center. FCRC and ESDC appear to believe their Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan will be effective enough to revise expected demand for arena patron parking on-site down by 50%.
Robust TDM plans include both incentives and disincentives to discourage driving and parking. We’ll know more about the TDM plan for Barclays Center on May 22 when FCRC, its transportation consultant, NYCTA and LIRR present it. But the details of the TDM plan in the 2009 Amended Memorandum of Environmental Commitments include only incentives, and the draft scope of the TDM plan FCRC’s consultant presented to community groups in January did not include some effective disincentives.
Barclays Center still appears to guarantee reserved parking to all suite-holders. Its web site includes the following information on its FAQ page:
How many patrons are guaranteed reserved parking? According to the Barclays Center December 2009 bond official statement, the arena will have capacity for 1,179 persons in 83 standard luxury suites, 12 courtside suites, 6 conference suites, 4 party suites and 40 loge boxes. These are only 7% of total potential ticketholders. This means that there still can be many cars coming to the Brooklyn neighborhoods surrounding the arena – and a lot of them will be looking for parking spaces. Moreover, the reduction in arena patron parking provided on-site may push non-reserved arena patrons to look for “free” parking spaces in the residential neighborhoods near Barclays Center.
FCRC has committed to demand management incentives like remote parking lots and free round trip subway fare for Nets games. The two principal TDM disincentive tools are parking management and pricing.
Arena patrons’ incentive to search for “free” parking spaces in Brooklyn residential neighborhoods can be eliminated by the State of New York authorizing and The City of New York implementing a Residential Parking Permit (RPP) program like those that successfully operate in many other major cities in the United States. Washington DC and Chicago provide two relevant examples:
- Washington DC. The District of Columbia operates an enhanced RPP program in neighborhoods near Nationals Park (where the MLB Washington Nationals play), which also has onsite parking garages adjacent to the stadium. The District Department of Transportation states that its enhanced performance based parking program is designed to “protect resident parking,” “protect businesses,” and “promote non-automotive transportation and reduce congestion." It does this in part by being in effect for most hours of every day, not just during baseball games. DC’s RPP hours of operation near Nationals Ballpark are 7:00 AM – midnight Monday-Sunday on one side of the stadium and 7:00 AM – 9:30 PM Monday-Saturday on the other side. As of 2011, these hours could be extended to 2:00 AM through a petition by the neighborhood’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
- Chicago, IL. Chicago has a robust citywide RPP program which includes residential neighborhoods near Wrigley Field (where the MLB Chicago Cubs play). In 2008 Chicago increased enforcement of RPP rules near Wrigley Field – an absolutely essential element of any RPP program – with additional City towing of illegally parked vehicles between 5:00 PM and 10:00 PM. The City has reported that, for the 29 night games in 2010, it issued an average of 75 parking violations per night and towed 41 vehicles per night.
TDM plans also include driving and/or parking pricing disincentives. A RPP program effectively increases the “price” of street parking – as long as the parking rules are enforced and the program has ticketing and towing fees. In addition, the price of parking in both private and public parking garages near Barclays Center, and on-site, could be increased through an arena zone parking tax surcharge, which again would need to be authorized by the State and implemented by the City. A relevant example is just across the Hudson River. In 2008 the State of New Jersey authorized and the City of Newark imposed a 7% special event parking tax surcharge on all parking within a defined area of downtown Newark after 6:00 PM on weeknights and during daytime on weekends. The impetus for the surcharge was the opening of Prudential Center (NHL New Jersey Devils, WNBA NY Liberty). The tax revenues go to the City of Newark. Other cities (including Baltimore, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Sacramento), either already have or are reportedly considering parking tax surcharges for parking near arenas or stadiums.
Unlike the incentives expected to make up the Atlantic Yards TDM plan which can be implemented unilaterally by FCRC, disincentives would require action by State and City government. Unfortunately, State and City legislatures and Departments of Transportation have been largely out of the loop with respect to demand management strategies for Atlantic Yards, whose traffic planning has been almost wholly privately contracted by FCRC to Sam Schwarz Engineering. Now, with less than six months remaining until the opening of Barclays Center, the people of Brooklyn will likely be asked on May 22 to accept a TDM plan that contains only a portion of the available strategies: all incentives and no disincentives.
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