Free Sunday Parking May End on the Upper West Side

Community Board passes resolution, awaits Council OK

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    Community Board 7 voted on Tuesday night to charge for meter parking on Sundays due to what they say is a serious shortage in street parking.

    If you are planning a visit to the Upper West Side on Sundays, you may soon have to bring extra quarters to feed the meter. 

    Community Board 7 voted on Tuesday night to charge for meter parking on Sundays due to what they say is a serious shortage in street parking.

    Free Sunday parking is a luxury enjoyed by drivers since 2005 when the City Council passed a policy providing free parking for worshipers, so they would not have to "pay to pray." 

    According to Community Board 7, while the policy meant well for outer borough worshipers who may drive long distances to their Sunday services, it that favor did not ring true for Upper West Siders coming home to their neighborhood.

    "Most people walk to their house of worship," said Marc Glazer, Vice Chair of the Community Board. "We spoke to several churches and synagogues just to find out where the people came from."
    The Community Board claims they have lost over 1,000 parking spaces in the last few years because of residential development. 

    In addition to more residents with cars, free parking encourages drivers to stay in their spots for extended periods of time hurting local businesses who rely on out of area visitors.
    A recent survey by the community board found that most cars parked on Sundays were in their spots for as long as six hours, compared to approximately 90 minutes during the week.    
    "It's residents, employees of the shops and other people that are taking those spots and keeping them all day," Mr. Glazer said.
    The Upper West Side is a family-friendly neighborhood sandwiched between the Hudson River and Central Park.  It starts near Columbus Circle on the south and heads north towards Cathedral Parkway.  Weekends typically see an uptick in visitors due to all the local attractions including the Museum of Natural History, Central Park, numerous playgrounds, shops and restaurants. 
    Community Board members shared Glazer's concerns, passing the parking resolution by a vote of 21-12, with five abstentions.  But before drivers feed the meters, the resolution needs the support of the City Council.
    When reached by phone today, Upper West Side Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who was present in the Council when free Sunday parking was passed, said she had not heard from her constituents just yet.  She also added her concern for citywide support of the issue.
    Despite the possible mixed reaction, Community Board 7 remains optimistic.
    "[We] hope that the City Council gets our message that you can't paint the whole city with one brush," said Mr. Glazer.  "They have to take into account each individual neighborhood and what our particular needs are."