Thank You to HKNA member Dan Gutman, who originally spotted the issue. He has been working tirelessly on shaping the technical and legal arguments which brought the city to the negotiating table. This in turn resulted in an outstanding settlement which we hope will be a model for new parking policies in the future .
New York, Friday May 8, 2009. The Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association (HKNA) agreed to settle its federal lawsuit aimed at nullifying parking requirements that the City adopted for the Hudson Yards area. Those requirements could have resulted in the construction of up to 17,400 parking spaces. Under the settlement, new development in the Hudson Yards will be limited to no more than 6,100 parking spaces. Also, a 950-car garage that the city planned to build under a new mid-block boulevard will be eliminated.
HKNA’s brought the suit to enforce New York City’s commitment under the federal Clean Air Act to limit parking in the Manhattan central business district south of 60th Street. The City implemented its commitment in 1982 through zoning changes under which new buildings are not required to provide parking and only a limited number of parking spaces are allowed. In approving the Hudson Yards rezoning in 2005, the City reversed course by requiring parking in a portion of the central business district for the first time since 1982. The settlement will again eliminate any parking requirement. The 1982 zoning rules still apply outside the Hudson Yards.
And for the first time, special permits for additional parking spaces will not be approved unless there is an actual shortage of parking in the Hudson Yards area. Currently there is no limit on special permits. The Departments of City Planning, Consumer Affairs, and Buildings will collaborate to keep an up-to-date inventory of parking spaces in the area and publish it on a web site.
“It is rewarding to see the city right a wrong and bring its parking and clean air policies into alignment” notes Kathleen Treat, Chair of HKNA, while plaintiff Vera Lightstone is relieved because “our neighborhood is already overwhelmed with Lincoln Tunnel traffic and plagued by high level of asthma.” The area is host to a large number of garages that serve the theater district and the garment center to the east.
According to Paul White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, “More parking garages only bring more traffic. This settlement is a big win for a greener more pedestrian-friendly city.” “Congratulations to the Hells Kitchen Neighborhood Association for protecting their residents from more traffic,” said Kate Slevin, Executive Director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign. “The settlement proves that economic growth does not have to come at the expense of our environment.”
The 1982 zoning rules would have allowed about 5,000 new parking spaces for development in the Hudson Yards. Although 6,100 spaces will now be allowed, some of those spaces will be in existing, underutilized public parking garages. As a result, the number of new parking spaces is expected to be approximately the same as would have been constructed under the 1982 zoning rules. The settlement was approved by the court on May 5, 2009. The City will have one year to adopt a zoning amendment for the Hudson Yards consistent with the settlement.
D. Gutman: (212) 586 3888, Dgutman@jps.com
C. Berthet: (646) 623 2689 firstname.lastname@example.org
K. Treat: (212) 704-0186, Ktreat@earthlink..net