What’s the Best Use of Street Space in an Urban Area?

UPDATE: You spoke, and the City Council listened. Enough residents spoke at the April 26, 2016 meeting to convince the City Council to vote to approve a resolution to convert parking spaces to accommodate deliveries. The new Trader Joe’s is scheduled to open in May 2017.

Hoboken, Inc. reports that the fate of a much-anticipated Trader Joe’s supermarket in the north end of Hoboken may come down to 24 on-street parking spaces.

Trader Joe's Hoboken Harlow

Trader Joe’s will occupy the ground floor space in Harlow, a mixed-use development at the corner of 14th Street and Willow Avenue in Hoboken.

Roads and streets existed long before cars, and the notion that a public good should be made available for free or below market prices to a single class of private users is a pretty unfair distribution of public resources. The idea that a small reduction in on-street parking could be an obstacle to the addition of a much-desired and much-needed business shows just how much we miss the mark when parking is considered the highest-priority use of street space in an urban area.

Street parking spots are some of the worst allocations of city resources. If residents or the city really wanted more parking, we should increase the price of a Hoboken resident parking permit, which currently stands at an insanely undervalued $15 a year. Such a low price encourages everyone to have a car parked on the city streets – which we all subsidize.

Parking is not a guaranteed right, and the street space used for on-street parking can accommodate so many other uses that benefit a larger number of people. In this case, providing adequate access for deliveries to a new Trader Joe’s would benefit thousands of Hooken and Hudson County residents who would shop at the store, be employed directly by the store, or be employed as a result of the store’s presence. There’s no way that 24 parking spaces can provide equivalent benefits to as much of the population. They only directly benefit a maximum of 24 vehicle drivers at a time, and indirectly benefit a maximum of 96 vehicle passengers, assuming a ‘best-case’ scenario whereby every vehicle using these spaces carries four passengers in addition to a driver.

If you live in Hoboken​, please attend the City Council special meeting – April 26, 7PM at City Hall, 94 Washington Street – to support conversion of these parking spaces to create a delivery zone for the proposed new Trader Joe’s. We need a new supermarket to support the growing north end of the city, and the City Council needs to hear voices that support equitable use of public resources.

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