Finding parking in Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, and Brooklyn Heights will get more expensive — and hopefully easier — under a city proposal that calls for jacking up meter rates to curb spot-hogging drivers.
The fees at muni-meters will increase after 30 minutes on Atlantic Avenue between Hicks Street and Fourth Avenue, and on Court and Smith streets between Atlantic Avenue and Sackett Street if the Department of Transportation’s pilot program gets off the ground this spring.
The initiative, dubbed Park Smart, banks on the premise that motorists park with their wallets: drivers would pay $1.50 for an hour rather $1, $2.50 for 90 minutes up from $1.50, and $4 for two hours instead of $2.
“We want people to buy just the right amount of time and we want to preserve our rates for people who make short stays,” Department of Transportation Park Smart manager Manzell Blakely said Thursday at a Community Board 6 meeting, in which the transportation committee unanimously voted in favor of the six month-long trial. “It’s a compromise and we do think that this will really move the long-term parkers to off-street solutions where they exist.”
Merchants on bustling Atlantic Avenue who have been pushing local pols to reform parking along the traffic-clogged strip for more than a year say the new program will stop drivers from monopolizing spots and increase turnover rates, which will be good for business.
“The biggest problem our customers have is not being able to park,” said Charlie Sahadi, owner of Atlantic Avenue’s mainstay Sahadi’s Specialty and Fine Foods.
Sahadi said many shopkeepers and their employees feed the meter all day long to park on the street, taking away valuable spaces from customers — and he hopes they will stop if the rates are higher.
“Would you rather not have a parking space or would you rather pay a little more to park?” Sahadi said.
Under the new policy, which comes after a request by the Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District, all one-hour parking meters will be extended to two hours, truck-only loading zones will be installed at three locations, and three no-parking areas will be eliminated to free up spaces.
But some neighbors are skeptical, claiming the proposed price hike is just a way for the city to make an extra buck.
“This is just another revenue bid by the city,” said Steven Hart of Warren Street. “Raising the rates will just drive traffic more frequently into the residential blocks.”
The Department of Transportation used time-lapse photography to determine exactly how long people leave their cars, and the number of available spaces at any one instant. The agency also surveyed 100 business owners for feedback.
Higher fee meters are a permanent fixture on Fifth and Seventh avenues in Park Slope since a similar pilot program in 2010, and merchants say the parking problem, though slightly alleviated, still exists.
“By no means has this Park Smart program eliminated the problem,” said Bob Kalb, owner Seventh Avenue’s Park Slope Copy Center. “There are simply too many cars for the amount of available spots, but it does discourage people from staying longer when the rates are higher.”
The agency said that on Park Slope’s Seventh Avenue the average duration a car spent in a single spot dropped from 71 minutes in 2009 to 55 minutes in 2010.
“That basically means that more different people were parking in the neighborhood and that’s a positive,” said Blakely.
The agency needs the full approval of Community Boards 2 and 6 before moving forward.Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at nmusumeci@