Our parking runneth over

Downtown Newark has an abundance of parking lots. Not so much to beat Dallas in Streetsblog’s Parking Madness but ridiculous nevertheless.

Some property owners near the train station are attempting to put in more surface parking to take advantage of the Pulaski Skyway closure and projected increased ridership into Manhattan. The residents are fed up and have taken the lead to try to stop the latest loss of street life. (Note: I have attended the Zoning Board meetings as an objector and know many of the organized residents personally but haven’t been involved in the strategy or hiring of an attorney.) 

There’s been some good writing on the proliferation of surface parking and its effects and I encourage you to read them. (Here. And here.) For that, I won’t go into why the surface lots are a cancer to city life but suffice to say, they’re pretty terrible.

What I did want to see is what car ownership rates are like in the region. I had heard that Newark has the second lowest rate of car ownership in the country behind only New York City and I wanted to see how this played out throughout the region. My assumption was that the lowest rates of ownership would be in the poorest areas.

EssexCarOwnership

This map surprised me. The two Census tracts just east of Penn Station in the Ironbound have some of the highest rates of no car households in the county. There are four sizable tracts in the county that have no car households over 60%. (There is one tract near the airport that has 23 people none of which own a car.) So I decided to map out median income as well.

Median Household Income

While the city is not wealthy we see that the poorest tracts are focused in the West and South Wards. There are poorer areas in Newark with higher rates of car ownership than in the Ironbound. It appears that people are living in the Ironbound and making due without a car by choice.

There may be an argument that suburban commuters need parking but I would encourage them to go to Secaucus or suggest we build a mixed use project with parking garage and wrap around retail.

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2 thoughts on “Our parking runneth over

    • That’s a great point, Chris. But once we dive down that rabbit hole we need to ask all sorts of questions. How do people, as consumers, make the trade off between housing and transportation? Would an increase in income lead someone to get a more reliable and nicer vehicle or move to a more desirable and expensive unit? How does car ownership break down with age?

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