Parking and Driving Rules: Re-clarified

ONE major complaint of Hoboken residents and those visiting the city is the Parking Authority who seemingly makes up rules at their convenience. A prime example of this ambiguity is the act of ticketing cars near crosswalks on some days but not on most others.

The feeling among those who park in these areas is that the city is pulling a classic bait and switch: Let a car owner get comfortable parking in one spot for a few days or weeks that is apparently an illegal spot—such as those that are located within 25 feet to a crosswalk marked by yellow-painted curbs—and one day when it’s least expected, tack a ticket to the windshield or boot one of the tires of those cars within this rarely-enforced zone.

The 25-feet from the crosswalk parking law is part of Mayor Roberts’ “Safe Paths to School” initiative introduced last year…a strategy designed to ticket cars that are near crosswalks in an effort to provide enough line-of-sight for pedestrians and cyclists to see cars coming towards a particular intersection.

However, since the Mayor quietly introduced this initiative last year, few cars have been ticketed when parking within this 25 foot range, leaving Hoboken car owners relaxed when looking for a place to park in a town where spots are always at a premium. As a result, many are feeling duped when seeing a ticket or tickets under their wipers when coming home from work or waking up in the morning.

“Its complete bullshit,” says Jerry Taylor of Willow Ave as he stood in line at the Hoboken Parking Authority to pay a fine. “I’ve been parking in the same spot, more or less, for the past three months and never got a ticket. Then suddenly I come home from the gym one night and find a $54.00 ticket on my car.”

“I don’t care if you want to enforce the law,” he continued, “just be consistent.”

A lack of parking instructions is an issue for some trying to determine what is and isn’t legal in Hoboken as well.

“There aren’t any signs saying that you can’t park near the crosswalk, just one sign saying if it’s a residential parking side of the street or not,” explains Lori McAllister. “I got a ticket one morning in a space where you can barely see the yellow curb because it’s so faded. I think the city does this on purpose just to make more money off of us.”

Overall the city of Hoboken, which is a whole 1.3 square miles, generated over $3.5 million in parking tickets and parking-related fines in 2004. In a small city that consists primarily of professional, responsible adults, this dollar amount seems awfully high.

“I have pretty much accepted the fact that I’m going to get one or two tickets per month,” said Gary Carpenter of Garden Street. “I work late in the suburbs (Parsippany) so by the time I get back on a weekday night, all the spots are taken. It costs $150-$250 per month for a parking garage space—none of which are near my apartment—so I like to think of my tickets as my parking fee per month.”

He paused and smirked.

‘Welcome to Hoboken.”

In an effort to generate even more revenue, the city will also be launching a pilot program to place cameras at random intersections throughout Hoboken. Here’s how it works: If a driver runs a stop sign at one of those selected intersections, the tape will be reviewed and violators will be ticketed via mail based on the license plate.

This program is expected to be launched at the beginning of 2006. But if the inconsistency and virtual silence of the 25-foot crosswalk enforcement is any indication, just don’t expect to hear much about the cameras-at-stop-signs-initiative until a ticket comes in your mail a few weeks later…

Welcome to Hoboken…