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Kennedy, Peoples-Stokes Push Fruit Belt Residential Parking Program

Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes have called on the Senate to hold a vote on their bill to establish a residential parking permit program for the Fruit Belt neighborhood. The Assembly approved the bill last week. Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes were joined in their call today by the Fruit Belt Coalition, a neighborhood group that advocates for improvements to area quality of life. The rapid development of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has spurred much-needed investment and job growth, but it has also caused some frustrations for residents living in the surrounding neighborhoods.

One of Fruit Belt residents’ chief concerns is the absence of available parking close to their homes. This makes simple tasks like picking up or dropping off children, unloading groceries or packing the car extremely difficult – much more difficult than it is in just about every other neighborhood in the region. With thousands of people working at the Medical Campus, many venture down nearby streets to find free parking spots – a far less expensive option than most lots and ramps available.

After hearing residents’ concerns and connecting with members of the Buffalo Common Council, especially Council President Darius Pridgen, Kennedy and People-Stokes have been pushing to establish a residential parking permit program within the Fruit Belt neighborhood – and they want the Legislature to approve their bill before the end of session this year. This will ensure far more parking spaces are reserved and available for residents.

“The need for more parking is a sign of Buffalo’s growth, and many call it a ‘good problem’ to have – but it’s a very frustrating problem for the people who deal with it every day. Our neighbors deserve some relief; Albany should heed our call and help us alleviate the parking problems facing Fruit Belt residents,” said Senator Tim Kennedy. We urge the State Legislature to approve this critically-important legislation before the end of session.”

Dr. Benjamin Cashaw, president of the Fruit Belt Coalition, said, “We are grateful for the relentless efforts of Senator Kennedy and Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes for a long but fruitful victory over the parking issues in the Fruit Belt, and we are more than happy to say that it will add to the quality of life in this historic community. The community and residents here will be eternally grateful once this bill is finally passed into law and the new program is put in place, especially for the seniors and residents with disabilities who have been battling the parking problem.”

And it’s not just residents who are supporting the Kennedy/Peoples-Stokes legislation. Roswell Park Cancer Institute, the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and UB’s Hauptman-Woodward Institute – central forces behind the expansion and job growth nearby – also support the bill.

“The growth on the Medical Campus, however economically beneficial, has had an impact on the adjacent Fruit Belt community as patients, visitors and employees seek free parking within the neighborhood, reducing available street parking close to residents’ homes. Roswell Park Cancer Institute understands the necessity to retain residential street parking and we support efforts by the community and the City of Buffalo to develop a residential parking permit system in the Fruit Belt neighborhood,” says Donald L. Trump, MD, President and CEO of Roswell Park Cancer Institute.

“Ensuring efficient and sustainable transportation options to and from the Medical Campus is a top priority for the BNMC, Inc., and a major part of this is mitigating any negative impacts of parking and traffic congestion in the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Matthew K. Enstice, President & CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Inc. “We will continue to work closely with the surrounding neighborhoods, the City and our other partners to find the best solution for all stakeholders.”

Once the State Legislature approves the bill and it’s signed into law, the City of Buffalo will be authorized to launch the residential parking permit program for the Fruit Belt neighborhood. The city will determine the specifics of how the program is administered and how parking permits are distributed to residents. The legislation allows the program to be established along Maple Street, Mulberry Street, Locust Street, Lemon Street, Carlton Street and High Street, and 20 percent of parking spaces within the program area will be made available to non-residents and will allow for short-term parking of at least 90 minutes in duration.

The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has seen a development boom and as 17,000 people will soon be working at the Medical Campus.

Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes continue to push for increased investment in the NFTA Metro Rail system to provide workers on the Medical Campus with an affordable, reliable option for their daily commute. The lawmakers believe investment in Metro Rail will also help spur additional private investment along the Main Street corridor.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

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  • David Steele

    Would be refreshing if they pushed public transit isntead.

  • rcgalbraith

    David Steele Agreed, but it’s a step toward at least protecting the neighborhood from insidious (if unintended) effects of the BNMC bonanza. I also see it having the ancillary benefit of encouraging the use of public transit by BNMC employees precluded from parking their cars on Fruit Belt streets #wherewouldwebewithoutwishfulthinking

  • Mike_Puma

    This is interesting on so many different levels. Of course if our public transportation infrastructure was much improved it would be an easier case for those commuting to work. The residents should come first, but it seems like folks also don’t bother using their driveways in most neighborhoods, not sure if that’s the case here or not.
    If it goes through it would be a smaller step in the right direction as the BNMC still seems dedicated to sustainable initiatives and reducing parking options to force people to carpool, bike, or use bus/rail. If the demand is there and the parking is not, once could hope the powers at be could pursue funds for better transportation options. Imagine if this happened all over the city! It would conceivably back everyone into a corner to taking and expanding public transportation.

  • brownteeth

    David Steele I agree, but this could be viewed as a backhanded way to force people to find alternative ways to get to work.  Lowering the supply of parking will force people to may be forgo driving to an extent.

  • brownteeth

    What is interesting to me is that this is being considered in a neighborhood that has a relatively short history with parking issues but not in longtime areas like EV or small pockets like Johnson Park, Days Park, Allentown, etc.

    If they do this they should be considering other areas of the city that have parking issues in residential neighborhoods.

  • No_Illusions

    David Steele What ever happened to the NFTA pushing for a slight expansion for the metrorail to a massive parking garage on Michigan street?

  • JayDBuffalo

    You would think if they have to do all the work of proposing it in a bill, they would research other neighborhoods that might need it and have it all taken care of at once.

  • laldm109

    David Steele In a city like Buffalo that doesn’t have a long history of transit ridership among the middle class, the only way to convince those people to use transit is to make driving too expensive or inconvenient. Once it becomes part of the culture, middle class people will begin using transit by default, but that culture change will take some time to take hold. So, BNMC is taking the steps it needs to to encourage transit – if it refuses to provide parking for all the cars of the workers, then some of those workers will have to either live near the Medical Campus, take transit, or carpool – all of which would be good things.

  • LouisTully

    “Kennedy and Peoples-Stokes continue to push for increased investment in the NFTA Metro Rail system”
    So with all the talk on here and with pieces like the recent Buffalo News article mentioning the areas around the Belt Line has there ever been a firm answer given why passenger traffic on the Belt Line is not possible or being explored, assuming that it isn’t even being considered by the powers that be.  I know there’s been talk about who has the rail rights and such.  But is that the actual answer, and why can’t a solution benefiting the region be found?

  • LouisTully

    So state law prohibits local government from setting up local parking permit programs?  Seems an unnecessary role for state government to play.

  • QuietlyDoingThings

    I really wish the parking meter idea that was proposed at a meeting about 204 High Street a while ago could have come to fruition.  Residents would receive passes that would enable them to use the meters free of charge, and non-residents (i.e., medical campus employees) would have to pay to use them.  The funds generated from the meters would then be used for neighborhood improvements that would be decided upon by the neighborhood’s majority votes.  Seems like a great way to get BNMC to put some money back into the neighborhood that is hosting them.  That way, all of the streets and sidewalks could get some updates, instead of just the street that takes the BNMC employees to and from their workplace.

  • BuffaloAllStar

    thinking the same damn thing…why the hell do we have to go to the NYS capital to set parking rules in Buffalo?  R.I.D.I.C.O.L.O.U.S.

  • BuffaloAllStar

    when there is alternative transportaion available…unless youre within a few blocks of main you have no option. 
    Driving to a park and ride option on Main Street is counterintuitive….
    Expand the metro rail and you won’t have to to silly things like this…I like the points mentioned above.  YOu’ve had parking issues in a variety of other neighborhoods for years…

  • No_Illusions

    laldm109 David Steele 
    You mean recent history.
    Buffalo has a long history of transit ridership before the 1950s.

  • Cam33r4

    I think a better idea would be for Kaleida and Roswell to work with NFTA on some sort of deal for a monthly pass for its employees.  UB needs to work on their NFTA contract as well, since as of the past 2 years, students could not get the free passes.  The answer to the problem is already in plain sight.

  • GrooverCleveland

    brownteeth I live on Johnson Park. It’s a horror to find parking. My wife and I counted 180 cars that circled Johnson Park between 6:30 and 8:30 am one morning .I have petitioned Sen Kennedy to add our street on, However, I have heard nothing.

  • 42N78W

    Cam33r4 I was just about to post the same thing, as a student who had to travel to the BNMC from UB regularly I can say that parking is a pain and UB’s shuttle system to the BNMC is horrible.  It is slow during high traffic hours and they only have one shuttle running during certain times of the day as well as its a small bus so at times when most people are coming and going it is cram-packed inside.  
    I calculated once if it would be more affordable to get a monthly metro pass or to park on the campus.  Even in the most expensive parking lots, it was roughly  the same price for both options.  So if Im going to be paying $100/month at least I can park close and not have to get on the stinky subway.  This is the mindset of employees at the BNMC.  Make the subway a deal and people would happily ride it in my opinion versus deal with parking on the campus and high prices, but who would willing pay the same price to have to deal with public transit when you can park right outside the building your trying to get to.

  • Cam33r4

    42N78W Cam33r4 The shuttle is a joke.  It runs like once an hour… definitely something they need to address when the Medical Campus moves downtown

  • solonggone

    I would love to see the study that shows there is not enough off street parking for residents in the fruit belt.  By the looks of it, most properties have a driveway.  If residents are upset that they can no longer park one in the drive and one on the street to avoid the shuffle of cars….move out of the city.  Added to this, it’s not like every parcel in the fruit belt even has a structure.

  • LouisTully

    Regarding transit.  Simply put, transit infrastructure will not improve and transit use will not improve until it is made a priority.  The best way this can be done is to put less resources towards highways and more resources towards transit.  I’m reading a book about NYC in the Moses and Jacobs era and that was something NYC faced with the likes of the defeated Westway project.
    Also discussed in that book is the fallacy that more roads are needed in order to address traffic problems and congestion, and that maintaining what exists or reducing roads will result in greater congestion and problems.  
    There was a headline about municipalities wanting less roads a while back in the Buffalo News.  I thought, Great!  I didn’t realize the local governments simply wanted to shift responsibility to the county or state.  
    I mentioned the article to an acquaintance in a local highway leadership position.  He agreed until we realized we weren’t speaking the same language.  He had the municipal perspective: shift the burden to higher government.  I had the perspective that there is simply too much infrastructure to maintain, built for a sprawling, car-centric purpose.  I didn’t put up a fight as I realized I wouldn’t be able to persuade him, I was speaking of things that would threaten roadways and thus his livelihood.

  • solonggone

    The metro region has not had a population increase in a very long time.  The footprint is pretty massive.  This is a single point in the COB, that while amazing it has a parking issue due to success, is still just a single point.  You don’t turn your back on an infrastructure network that services over 1M people to support  ~20,000 who have trouble parking.  
    Additionally, this is not a traffic AND parking issue.  It’s just a parking issue.  Mass transit needs to have both congestion AND parking issues in order for the cost to be justified.  
    Frankly, the fact that the campus is not considering just building a ramp is the wrong move.  I don’t see why you can’t construct a large ramp with ground floor retail, that would service the medical campus AND the fruit belt on the block between Carlton > Michigan > High > Maple.  Almost NOTHING exists there now.

  • LouisTully

    solonggone LouisTully I meant my comment off topic.  Not really related to this particular story and the parking problem.  There’s a few comments regarding transit I was responding to.

  • LouisTully

    solonggone LouisTully ***
    Also, regarding your cost comment.  The cost isn’t necessarily justified with how popular it is and how it is a response to congestion and parking issues.  The cost of mass transit investment is justified by how much less money is spent on roads.  Which is a more efficient expense?  That’s where the population status is a factor.  Though, regardless of population, I doubt sprawl can end up being at all efficient.
    I italicized investment because that was a point made in the book I referenced.  Word choice is an interesting thing I’ll be paying attention to in the future.  The author cites how highways are referred to as investments, while public transit and its infrastructure is considered subsidized.

  • foreverbflo

    sounds like an incredible opportunity to set aside some vacant land/lots – in more than one location – and create a community parking lot that is Green, Sustainable, Demonstration, friendly to the community, manages storm water, pedestrian friendly, well lit with led, safe, and actually becomes an asset. 
    This discussion needs to take the direction of making assets out of liabilities – for the good of the community and the environment. There is an incredible opportunity here.

  • BuffaloBoi

    Cam33r4  For starters, NFTA can make the system run 24/7 since many people work over night, early morning when the system is out of service. And also get back to the drawing board of ‘extending’ the metro rail- northtowns, southtowns, airport, Niagara Falls.

  • solonggone

    The only way you can justify not investing in roads and instead investing in mass transit is if people use it.  If people still use their cars, all you have done is wasted money.  
    Until there comes a time where using mass transit is a more desirable option than driving…it should be considered a complement to driving not a replacement.

  • LouisTully

    solonggone LouisTully “The only way you can justify not investing in roads and instead investing in mass transit is if people use it.”
    Chicken and egg, no?  What about retail downtown.  Is it because there’s no residential?  Or is there no residential because there’s no retail?
    Like the word choice I referenced before, funding highways is just as much a subsidy as public transit.  If we want improved transit the only way that is going to happen is if the decision makers make it a priority, and pull back on the coin shelled at roadways.

  • GrooverCleveland

    GrooverCleveland brownteeth One other thing, I researched resident parking throughout NYS. Apparently,  NYS controls resident parking permits because everything vehicular falls under the purview of NYS vehicle and traffic laws. And, interestingly enough, virtually all of the resident parking permits ever granted by the NYS Legislature in Albany have been issued for streets in Albany! Any guess why? Maybe because the State Senators and Legislators found it hard to park on their own streets in Albany! I think 6 parking permit areas have been issued for Albany,  2 for areas around Ithaca, and none for any other cities in NYS,

  • whateverr

    A smart easy thing to do before deciding on residential permits is to legalize parking on both sides of the many 1-way streets around there which are wide enough for it.  
    A good example is Orange St.  Here’s a Google streetview capture showing alternate side parking sign on Orange St near Virginia St.
    Based on that sign saying ‘No Parking Mon-Tue-Wed 9am-4pm’ (and other side has a similar sign for Thurs-Fri 9-4pm, the city is already legalizing parking on both sides during evenings and weekends.  So it can’t be a case of justifying a 1-side rule for emergency vehicles.  (Orange St is 1-way northbound. )
    This simple harmless change could effectively double the parking spaces on quite a few streets around there.  
    It should also be done citywide, basically improving and extending the alternate parking rule relaxing that was made last year for only some Elmwood Village residential streets.

  • brownteeth

    MrGreenJeans Uhh… isn’t that what makes a city a city?  Density?

  • solonggone

    No.  It’s not a chicken and egg situation.  It’s pretty clear.  You need to have density of both residential and jobs along any mass transit route for it to work.  Mass transit never comes first.  
    Don’t get me wrong.  I am a huge fan of mass transit. That said, it only works when it’s reasonable.  
    You can’t tell 20,000+ there is no parking for you and to change your commute because some people don’t like having to park both of their cars on the driveway.  
    Outside of a ramp, the COB should look to try and develop NEW dense mid-rise condos or apartments along the existing metro line.  Not these fake victorian townhomes but true mid-rise developments. 
    Put density back into some of these blocks and make those blocks desirable to live in and people will move.

  • this problem has potential benefits for the fruit belt.  instead of or in addition to parking permits,  this is the ideal place to try out a parking benefit district.  i know, i harp on this all the time.

    establish market rates for on-street parking and turn all revenues in excess of costs over to the fruit belt for its needs: streetscape improvements, signage, lighting, revolving home repair fund, whatever.  this has the added benefit of changing the residents’ perception of medical campus workers from unwelcome intruders to valuable customers.

  • solonggone

    That’s a good idea but in addition to turing the medical campus workers into customers it would also turn guests of the residents into customers as well.  
    I know people hate parking lots but what if they were to convert some of the empty city owned lots to parking lots under 5 year leases?  The revenue from the lots would go back into the community like your parking benefit district.  After 5 years evaluate again and either sell the land or continue for another 5 years.

  • BeardedBuffalonian

    If this was happening in the ‘Elmwood Village’ it would be praised as a sign of a vibrant neighborhood. But since it’s the East Side everyone’s gotta be a victim.

  • MrGreenJeans
    on the contrary, it demonstrates the wisdom of concentrating mixed uses.  if you put enough things close together (residences, services, amenities, businesses, schools, etc.), then it becomes both easier to walk or bike and more unnecessary to drive and therefore require parking.

  • LouisTully wrote I didn’t put up a fight as I realized I wouldn’t be able to persuade him, I was speaking of things that would threaten roadways and thus his livelihood. 
    if only the d.o.t. actually was in the transportation business.  it is not, or we could be having a meaningful conversation about what forms of transportation (rail, water, bicycle, expressway, etc.) should get how many dollars.  but the d.o.t. is only in the highway business.

  • whateverr

    grad94 LouisTully

    Again, this claim isn’t true –
    grad>’the d.o.t. is only in the highway business’
    – not even close to true.
    I recall refuting that before on here, but it was a while ago so just for fun I’ll do it again.
    The NYSDOT budget funds non-highway street projects & street/sidewalk/bike projects that aren’t highways, as well as rail, mass transit, and other non-car things. 
    Among many examples…'Public meeting will address reconstruction of Elmwood Avenue bridge June 17, 2014 … The state Department of Transportation wants to replace it with a more decorative bridge. A $7.9 million proposal also calls for an expanded sidewalk on the western side of the bridge for pedestrians & bicyclists. …’
    (note that Elmwood Ave isn’t a highway, and highways don’t have sidewalks for pedestrians and bikes)'SIGNAL PEDESTRIAN UPGRADES; SFY 12/13; ERIE COUNTY Project ID No. 581214  This project will retrofit existing signals at various locations on NY Rt. 33 [Genesee], NY Rt. 130 [Broadway], NY Rt. 240 [Harlem], & NY Rt 950E (Church & Division Streets) in Erie County to provide pedestrian push buttons and pedestrian heads that meet current standards, as well as any necessary sidewalk work required for pedestrian accessibility. …’
    (those streets aren’t highways, and highways don’t have pedestrian push buttons and sidewalks)
    Another… paving on Broadway (‘Rt 954L’) in Buffalo between Fillmore & Bailey, as well as parts of Delaware Ave (downtown Buffalo, and in Ken-Ton) 'PMI-RTS 384 & 954L & 5, Project ID No. 581229This project will mill the existing pavement surface and then overlay it with layer of asphalt to prevent additional deterioration on RT 384 [Delaware Ave] from Kenmore Ave to Rt 324 and on Rt 954L [Broadway, near B-way=-illmore area] from Fillmore Ave to Rt 62 and on Rt 5 from the Bridge that carries Route 5 [Delaware Ave] over the I-190 to Church St, city of Buffalo, Town of Tonawanda and Village of Kenmore, Erie County.’

  • whateverr

    grad94 LouisTully
    In addition to highways, streets, sidewalks, and infrastructure for pedestrians & bikes, NYSDOT also funds mass transit, cargo & passenger rail, aviation, and water ports.'The New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) is responsible for the development and operation of highways, railroads, mass transit systems, ports, waterways and aviation facilities in the U.S. state of New York. 
    This transportation network includes:
    A state and local highway system, encompassing over 110,000 miles (177,000 km) of highway and 17,000 bridges.
    A 5,000 mile (8,000 km) rail network, carrying over 42 million short tons (38 million metric tons) of equipment, raw materials, manufactured goods and produce each year.
    Over 130 public transit operators, serving over 5.2 million passengers each day.
    Twelve major public and private ports, handling more than 110 million short tons (100 million metric tons) of freight annually.
    456 public and private aviation facilities, through which more than 31 million people travel each year …’
    If there’s any complaints about how DOT spending is divided up between car vs. non-car infrastructure, those complaints would logically be directed toward the governor & state legislature who make those decisions when writing the yearly budget – instead of at the DOT who implements those decisions.

    It isn’t as though DOT is allocated a big chunk of $ and allowed to divide it any way they want between car-related projects vs. mass transit, rail, and everything else.  The state budget generally makes those decisions.

  • whateverr

    bb>’If this was happening in the ‘Elmwood Village’ it would be praised as a sign of a vibrant neighborhood. But since it’s the East Side everyone’s gotta be a victim.’
    Actually, EV residents & businesses/EVA have also lobbied the city govt about parking concerns.  Was that a ‘gotta be a victim’ thing too?
    Remember this?'… new parking rules that proponents such as the Elmwood Village Association advocated for on the 700-800 blocks off Elmwood Avenue are now in effect. … Statement from the EVA: “We’ve been advocating for this change for more than a year, so it’s great to see the new rules finally go into effect. While the difficulty of finding parking on Elmwood Avenue is certainly a sign of its success, many businesses rely upon on-street parking for their customers and employees. When development of the Benchmark lot at 770 Elmwood begins it will further increase demand in this area. …” ‘

  • whateverr

    ‘establish market rates for on-street parking’
    Or just end the artificial reduction of on-street parking supply by half which the city is now doing on many streets around there via the weekday-daytime-only alternate side parking rules.
    Essentially the city now has ‘free’ parking on one side of residential streets (such as Orange) and $35 parking on the other sides during Mon-Fri weekdays, the cost of a ticket.
    It’s crazy to not legalize for during Mon-Fri daytimes the same 2-sided parking that’s currently legal on those streets during weekends & weeknights.