NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- An analysis by Talk of the Sound of tens of thousands of parking tickets issued by the New Rochelle Police Department over the most recent calendar year suggests that the so-called "Parking Emergency" in the Restaurant District in the Downtown Business Improvement District may be the result of a failure by the City to enforce a 2011 change in parking regulations that went into effect on January 1, 2012.
At last week's City Council meeting, New Rochelle City Manager Charles B. Strome asked Council to authorize funds for an Emergency Parking Study requested by Ralph DiBart, Executive Director of the BID. City Council will vote tonight to authorize $5,000 for this purpose. In requesting the funds, DiBart painted a dire picture of the parking situation in downtown New Rochelle, especially in the area around the Restaurant District, the corridor along Huguenot Street and Main Street where it intersects with Lawton Street, Memorial Highway, Division Street and Centre Avenue.
Over the course of 2012, Talk of the Sound found that the number of parking meter violations issued in the BID area declined dramatically with most of that decline concentrated in the Restaurant District, indicating that the "emergency" is actually an "enforcement" issue.
The New Rochelle BID has sought for years to change downtown parking rules. A Downtown New Rochelle Parking Task Force presented recommendations to the City Council. They initially recommended to the City Council to extend metered parking on the street from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. with downtown municipal lots going to 24/7 metered parking. The recommendation was changed in April 2010 so that extended street meter parking hours would not change from the 6 p.m. cut-off.
In 2011, the City Council approved changes to extended metered parking from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m.. Those changes went into effect on January 1, 2012.
As the basis for its analysis, Talk of the Sound obtained a list of all 61,690 parking tickets issued in New Rochelle during 2012 through a Freedom of Information Request. The list included date, time, location and nature of the violation.
The New Rochelle Police Department issues 25 different types of parking tickets in New Rochelle:
PARKING PROHIBITED AT ALL TIMES.
COMMERCIAL VEHICLE PARKED MORE THAN 3 HRS FROM 6PM TO 8AM
PARKED IN A CROSSING OR HERE TO CORNER
DOUBLE PARKING/DOUBLE STANDING
PARKED IN FRONT OF A DRIVEWAY
FIRE LANE PUBLIC STREET
NO PARKING DURING PROHIBITED HOURS
NO PERMIT HANDICAPPED SPACE
PARKING METER VIOLATION
MISC PARKING VIOL (STATS)
TIME LIMIT PARKING
NO STOPPING OR STANDING
GARAGE OVERTIME PARKING
PARKING METER/TICKET TIME VIOLATION PUBLIC PARKING LOT
NO PERMIT PUBLIC PARKING LOT
PARKING WITHIN 25' OF STOP SIGN
PARKING WITHIN 15' OF A FIRE HYDRANT
PARKING ON SIDEWALK
VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC Taxi stands.
PARKING IN SAFETY ZONE
PARKED MORE THAN 12' FROM CURB
PARKING PROHIBITED ON A CROSSWALK
NO RES. STICKER/PUBLIC PARKING LOT
To understand the impact of the new parking regulations on the BID area, Talk of the Sound combed through the records to identify locations within the BID where parking meter violations were issued.
The New Roc Garage and Intermodal Transit Center were excluded because they were not impacted by the new regulations. They were and still are 24/7 metered/permitted parking.
New Roc Garage is an entity unto itself when it comes to parking tickets. 24,859 of all parking tickets issued in New Rochelle, 40%, were issued at the New Roc Garage.
Just under half a percent of the tickets issued did not have a valid address. There is either a typo or a generic address such as "Main Street" instead of "123 Main Street". In theory, these tickets could be successfully challenged in court. For purposes of our analysis the tickets were discarded as "bad data". The percentage was small enough that we do not believe it impacts our analysis in any meaningful way.
For New Rochelle, 13,651 of all parking tickets, 22%, are issued between the hours of 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. 48,039 of all parking tickets, 78%, are issued between the hours of 12 a.m. to 6 p.m..
Of those 13,651, tickets issued from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., 8,443 were issued within the BID area which is bounded, roughly, by the train station to the North, Clinton Place/Leroy to the South, Echo Avenue to the East and Pintard Avenue to the West.
Of those 8,443 tickets, 7,651 were at locations, either on the street or in parking lots, that were impacted by the 2011 changes in parking regulations which went into effect on January 1, 2012.
Of those, 7,651 that were at locations impacted by the new parking regulations in 2012, 1,990 were of the type PARKING METER VIOLATION or PARKING METER/TICKET TIME VIOLATION PUBLIC PARKING LOT which we treated as "parking meter violations".
In 2012, the amount of parking meter violations in the BID area was impacted by two events: the Blue Glue parking meter bandit and the annual parking holiday in City parking lots for Christmas shopping. They likely cancel each other out, in terms of their impact on this analysis. The Blue Glue Bandit impacted lot parking around the library and Prospect lot in 2011 before his arrest in January 2012. The parking holiday only covered the weeks after Thanksgiving. Neither explains the massive 58% decline in parking meter violations from Q1 to Q4 in 2012.
In running the numbers on a quarterly basis, a major source of the decline in parking meter violations becomes clear.
In the fourth quarter of 2012, there were zero parking meter violations issued at three major municipal downtown parking lots: Avalon Garage, Church/Division Garage, Prospect Street Lot. The Maple Avenue Lot was also not ticketed. The other three municipal downtown parking lots were still ticketed: Centre Avenue Lot, Library Lot and Library Lot South.
There were 121 locations, both street and lot parking, in the downtown BID area where a parking meter violation was issued in 2012, including the seven municipal lots but excluding New Roc Garage. Of those 121 locations just 52 of those locations received a parking meter violation in the 4th quarter of 2012.
The map below indicates all locations that were ticketed with a parking meter violation during 2012.
Those in red are locations that were ticketed during the first 9 months of the year and in the last months of the year.
Those in blue are locations that were ticketed during the first 9 months of the year but not in the last 3 months of the year.
Blue pins on the map indicate areas where parking enforcement did not occur during the last 3 months of the year.
The map indicates that Lawton Street has a lot of blue dots, Division Street has many on both sides of Main Street, and then down Main Street to the area around Centre Avenue.
The map does not "weight" particular dots but if it did the blue would even more pronounced because 4 of the blue pins on the map hold hundreds of parking spaces (Avalon Garage, Church/Division Garage, Prospect Street Lot, Maple Avenue Lot).
A conclusion that can reasonably inferred from this data is that there was a conscious decision to reduce and, in some cases, entirely eliminate, enforcement of parking meter violations especially in the muncipal lots near the Restaurant District.