Serrano Letter to Mayor on Congestion Pricing and Yankee Stadium Parking 4/2/8
April 2, 2008
Honorable Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
New York, New York 10007
In the past year, I have provided strong and unwavering support for the city's congestion pricing plan, even when that position has not proven politically expedient. My support was based on the plan's merits and the fact that my community suffers a disproportionate number of environmental burdens. I continue to believe that congestion pricing is a major step toward rectifying environmental and social injustice.
I also believed that congestion pricing would not only reduce smog-producing vehiculartraffic in Manhattan, but in all the boroughs of New York City. The aim of congestion pricing is to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home, and not overburden our boroughs with additional traffic. Residential parking permits gave assurances to local communities that their neighborhoods would not become a haven for commuters seeking to avoid the congestion pricing fee.
With that said, it troubles me to learn of a major loophole emerging outside of the congestion pricing zone - specifically, the rules and regulations that concern several new parking facilities under construction or already completed at the new Yankee Stadium site.
The South Bronx community, with extraordinarily high asthma rates, will suffer if parking lot spaces remain open for commuters on non-game days. Given the increasing costs of gas, and the potential congestion pricing fee, the South Bronx will become an attractive park-and-ride destination for commuters from Westchester, New Jersey and other areas. As current policy indicates, most if not all existing parking facilities are only open for fans attending Yankee games. They are closed on all other days of the year. My hope is that this policy does not change to accommodate drivers bypassing congestion pricing fees.
Since Yankee parking for the old stadium lots is not open now, I see no reason why the lots should suddenly need to be kept open year-round for the new stadium.
My understanding is that any decision on the new parking lots will be made several weeks from now. It alarms me that such decisions are being made after legislative votes in the City Council and State Legislature on congestion pricing, not to mention the fact they were not made in concert with the Traffic Mitigation Commission.
Opening up the parking garages in this area will draw increased automobile traffic into the South Bronx. For example, commuters who currently park daily at high-priced Manhattan garages will be encouraged to rent space in the lower priced Yankee garages, and then take the subway downtown.
I also want to prevent these lots from becoming a transportation crutch for those who commute to the South Bronx for work. Many of these people take mass transit, but will consider driving should there be an increased supply of parking spaces.
Expanded commuter parking defeats the purpose and spirit of congestion pricing, the whole point of which is to encourage commuters to leave their cars at home and to enhance mass transit.
I thank you for taking the issue of residential street-parking permits seriously. But in the neighborhoods around Yankee Stadium, the issue of lot parking is just as important as that of street parking. A failure to deliberate on this matter opens up a real loophole in our parking strategies and traffic mitigation efforts.
I am urging you to take this issue seriously. Please take the necessary steps to prevent park-and-ride sprawl in the South Bronx. As the congestion pricing vote approaches Albany this week or next, I ask you for a timely response to my concerns.
José M. Serrano