Is the brake coming off residential parking permits near the ESP in Albany?

Not every street within the proposed area would be subject to residential parking permits

Via Bob Conner comes word that a bill allowing residential parking permits near the Empire State Plaza is moving through the legislature again.

The bill passed in the Assembly a year ago, but died in the state Senate. Bob reports that Neil Breslin says it looks like there will be enough votes to pass it this time around in the Senate.

Among the bill's provisions:
+ The City of Albany would be allowed to "pilot a residential parking permit system with a two year sunset" within a 3/4 mile radius of the ESP.
+ No more than 2,750 spaces would be allowed in the permitted area.
+ Permit parking would not be allowed on streets where adjacent properties are zoned "commercial, office [and]/or retail use."

(The full text of the bill's provisions is after the jump.)

One possible hitch: the Assembly version of the bill differs from the Senate version in the size of the allowed area for permits -- 3/4 mile vs. 1 mile. Bob reports that CSEA dropped its opposition to the bill because of the reduced radius. Update: Albany common councilman Richard Conti stopped by in the comments to note the Senate bill is identical to the Assembly bill and includes the 3/4 mile radius (it appears the Open Senate entry for the bill hasn't been completely updated, yet).

Jerry Jennings told AOA last October that he wants permit parking -- and would pursue it if the legislature allowed it.

From Open Senate:



TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the vehicle and traffic law, in relation to authorizing a pilot residential parking permit system in the city of Albany and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: Provides for the city of Albany to adopt a pilot residential parking permit system within certain areas of the city.


Section 1: Legislative findings and intent.

Section 2: Amends the vehicle and traffic law by adding a new section 1640-1, which would allow the common council of the city of Albany to adopt a local ordinance to provide for pilot a residential parking permit system with a two year sunset. Requires that the residential parking system may only be established within a 3/4 mile radius of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza. Permits will be issued on no more than 2,750 spaces within the permit areas. The permitted streets within this area shall be described in a local law or ordinance adopted by the common council pursuant to this section. Provides that no permit will be required on streets Where the adjacent properties are zoned for commercial, office acid/or retail use. Outline's the local law or ordi nances to be adopted by the common council of the city of Albany. Provides for a public hearing prior to implementation.

Section 3: Effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: This is a two-year pilot program that attempts to allevi ate the parking problems faced by downtown residents. Parking and the lack of it in the city of Albany is a growing problem in many areas of the city. An expanding workforce within the city, the proliferation of a large student population and a lack of driveways for pre-automobile homes has resulted in a glut of automobiles on city streets. This leaves the residents of the City with the almost impossible task of parking near their homes.

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: 2009 passed Assembly. Similar legislation has been introduced for many years.



Map drawn using Free Map Tools


Are there many 'office acid' zones in downtown Albany? :-)

I have mixed feelings about this - these schemes are quite popular in the UK - but are only actually beneficial to residents in a fraction of those. When the parking problems are less severe or the scheme is badly designed, residents can find that it makes life harder, more complicated and even more expensive for them and their visitors.

I was still in grade school the last time they tried a park plan in the Center Square area. My household was VERY lucky because we had our own garage, but I remember the whole plan causing all sorts of headaches and hassles for both neighbors and visitors.

There are a few solutions to the parking "problem" in Center Square for residents other than residential permits. Get rid of your car, move out to the suburbs with your car or shut up.

I've lived in Center Square for two years. I've had a car for the last 6 months and yes, it is sometimes difficult to find parking, especially when returning late at night or trying to park during the day.

However, I accept that as the cost of owning a car in an urban area. If I wanted to drive everywhere all the time, I would move out to the suburbs where I could have my own driveway and free parking. I choose though to live in an urban area that is walkable and has ample public transportation because I don't want to use a car all the time.

People circling our neighborhood looking for parking can be cumbersome but these people could easily take 787 and exit right into a parking garage. They would not spend any time in downtown Albany. Parking brings people into the neighborhood and not parking directly in front of one's place of business or home allows us to walk around more and meet our neighbors.

As Jane Jacobs would argue, it adds more eyes on the street whether they are workers or residents they provide foot traffic to the neighborhood increasing safety.

Having residential parking permits in the area surrounding the ESP would make my life easier. However it would make my community worse and taking the city of Albany in the wrong direction to building a more sustainable viable community.

Both the Senate and Assembly bills are identical and reflect the 3/4 mile radius. The Albany Common Council passed the home rule request on this in May signing off on the change and asking the Legislature to approve it.

Richard Conti
Council Member 6th Ward

LEA makes some interesting points, and I agree with many of them.

The biggest concern regarding parking, in my opinion, is actually late at night. Residential Parking Permits won't make it any easier for residents of Center Square who have to walk alone several blocks from their cars to their home late at night. I'd prefer to see the city and the state focus on making the streets safer at night.

I agree with Erik. The state workers are only a fraction of the problem. Nighttime is much worse. I agree with LEA that the walk-ability of Center Square is one of the things about it that's so great, but sometimes you need to actually leave the area, and if so, if you're not back before 8pm you'll be circling for a while.

The Parking Permit system will make a very strong statement to the greater community that the city and people of albany actually count. Many of us have been working on this issue for more than 30 years. It is a matter of fairness. While many folks live in outlying towns and come into Albany for a variety of reasons, they do not pay for the services that they get while here, we the residents do.

Yes night time parking is a problem and yes walkabilty and safety are issues, however, having raised my children in center square I know the difficulty of running out to the store during the day for what ever reason and not being able to park when I returned.

This system will address that issue. Albany is the only state capital on the eastern seaboard without a residential parking permit system. HECK, even Rennselaer has one across the river....

It is time for fairness and time for the citizens of Albany to get a little respect.

This would hurt me as I live in this area and do not own a car, but when I rent a car, where can I park?

@ hgreen I'm not sure how parking permits would make us "count".

Commuters do use services but I don't know if furthering a car culture in center square balances that out.

I think a better solution would be something along the lines of a commuter tax. That could even encourage state workers or others that need to work in the city to move back into the city spurring revitalization.

I don't have children but I know that there are plenty of stores (the PC on Delaware, the Coop which you can take a bus to, target etc) that don't require the use of a car.

I try to save the trips in which I need to buy big items to the weekend when there is plenty of parking in the neighborhood or at the capital.

LEA, when you have lived the 22 years I have in center square, when you have raised a family in center square as I have, including thru the albany school system, when you have seen the things I have seen, when you paid the taxes I have paid, when you have fully experienced urban life in albany, as I have, then maybe you will understand how "parking permits" will make us count. There are two sets of reality, the one, I have lived, based in reality, and the one you speak of, which is the reality of your wishes, desires, and ideas of a perfect world. I love living in albany, and I love the fact that dreamers such as yourself live here too. What is a parking permit, is it not a form of commuter tax?

Couldn't agree more with hrgreen... My wife and I also live in Albany and despite the high taxes and the parking really enjoy our location in Center Square. I live in Center Square and commute to a school district almost 45 mins. away.

I'm surprised at the number of people that don't get the core reason that permits have never become reality and it does have to do with State workers and Unions. We have parking garages in downtown that are empty because workers would rather park in residential areas and not pay. Combined with the 'opposite-side' parking because of street cleaning and it is a NIGHTMARE to try and park on our neighborhood streets. This is about politics and if Mayor Jennings were so behind this idea, like he gives you the impression he is, it would have happened long ago.

I know it might seem inappropriate to whine about a church, but the parishioners at the Wilborn temple don't help either. They have events several times a week, and they park on both sides of Swan, in front of hydrants, on the's insane. They have a parking lot, yet their pastor will put a sign on a street parking spot to try to reserve it for himself. They commute to our neighborhood, completely disregard our parking rules, and don't get ticketed. Ever! And of course you can't park in their lot after dark if you can't find parking anywhere else.

I'm looking forward to seeing how permit parking will effect that situation. I want to be a good neighbor, but it's a nightmare.

Oh, and to address LEA's points, many of which are good...

Fundamentally I will have to disagree. Living in such a beautiful neighborhood is wonderful, I love it here. But the fact that we don't use our cars often should be a perk, not a prison. When you actually don't want to go somewhere because you're anticipating circling the neighborhood at 10pm for 45 minutes, it is no longer a perk. We shouldn't HAVE to be restricted to going somewhere only on the weekends, or having to shop at that Price Chopper (not my first choice), or going somewhere on a bus line. It should be a choice, not a restriction.


Parking around the capital that is metered during the day is free at night (after 6PM) making it so much easier for those late night arrivals back to the city.

@ Summer -- It is a CHOICE not a requirement to own a car. If using your car is a prison then you don't have to own one. I often feel like having a car is a prison at times but it is my choice to have one now.

It is a privilege that comes with repercussions such as sometimes having difficulty parking.

@ TJ bought a good point earlier. There are people that do not own a car in the neighborhood. It seems like it would be a discriminatory policy favoring those who choose and can afford to own a car.

@hrgreene I really don't get how it would make us "count" more. It would make those privileged enough to afford and choose to own cars count more. That certainly doesn't include everyone that lives in the area.

I also don't think it would necessarily make parking easier especially at night.

I think that is one of the harder times to park and that is all residents or patrons of local restaurants.

Do you see this as possibly hurting local restaurants and business that may already be struggling through the recession?

I think a better solution would involve providing a small amount of seed funding to get a car sharing business in Center Square. This would allow more residents to have access to cars while freeing up tons of parking.

I'd hate to see what happens to the businesses on Lark St. if this proposal goes through.

Discriminatory against those who don't own cars? You cannot be serious! This is laughable.

A few comments from a state worker (speaking only for myself):

I do park in that area, and I am conscious of the parking situation, and I do feel somewhat guilty when I park on the street. Two things: 1. There is a wait list to get into those nearby parking garages. So I would happily pay and not park on those streets if there was a spot for me in the garage, but that isn't the case (if there are other daily fee garages, I apologize, but I simply cannot afford that). 2. I am considerate of your neighborhood. I spend money at the businesses, I don't litter, I never hit cars while parking, etc.

Aside from that this is an interesting debate (cheers to the person who brought up Jane Jacobs). As others have mentioned it seems that this might have a negative impact on the Lark St businesses.

A lot of discussing here about issues parking at night. Seeing as this is explicitly targeted at the Plaza area, it's unlikely to be in effect at night. These type of permit systems typically make the spaces on affected streets short-term parking (ie 2 hours) for those without permits, and only during the day.

So this is not likely to help those of us who work 9-5 type schedules.

I would be interested in someone being able to explain what this means:
Permit parking would not be allowed on streets where adjacent properties are zoned "commercial, office [and]/or retail use."

In other words if there is a commercial property anywhere adjacent to a street then permit parking will not be allowed on that street? That seems to rule out Lark, Swan, State, Chestnut, Lancaster, Jay, Hudson and Hamilton. That's pretty much the entire area people usually refer to as "Center Square".

@ Tieu

I too found that provision interesting, so I looked to Albany's zoning map and made some phone calls. As I understand it, the whole of Center Square is zoned residential with businesses in that area having been granted variances. Therefore, the existence of a business/office, etc., on a street does not prohibit parking permitting.

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