Change in parking law sparks outcry in Newark's Lower Broadway

By Barry Carter | The Star-Ledger
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on October 23, 2015

Newark merchants say new parking signs on Lower Broadway are hurting their business. They say customers are afraid to shop because they will get ticketed and towed

 

Stories about parking may not be juicy reading over morning coffee.

But this one – about a short commercial corridor known as Lower Broadway in Newark's Central Ward – makes you start to wonder about always following the rules.

Lower Broadway is a one-way street about two blocks long, running from Bloomfield Place to Seventh Avenue. The area doesn't have much parking to begin with and that's why a new – or not so new – four-hour parking restriction is confusing to merchants.

Over the summer, Newark completed a street improvement project – lights, sidewalks, new pavement –  and the city's traffic and signals division put up new street signs that prohibit parking from noon to 4 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays. Previously, the "no parking" hours were from 7 to 9 a.m.

With the new hours, Central Ward Councilwoman Gayle Chaneyfield Jenkins says the city could clean the streets on alternate days.

Simple enough, right?  Swap it out and keep it moving. Nothing is ever that easy, it seems, when you learn that the new hours for parking are not really new. They've been part of a city ordinance for quite some time, but no one seems to know for how long and they haven't been enforced until now.

Still waiting for the answer as to why from the city's division of traffic and signals in the Engineering Department and the department of Neighborhood and Recreational Services.

Small business owners, who say they're losing 30 to 60 percent in sales because of the new hours, want to know why parking regulations are being changed after 45 years.

That's how long George Faludi, owner of a furniture store on Lower Broadway, has been in business. He's never had to worry about customers getting ticketed and towed – until now.

"Noon to 4 p.m. is prime time,''Faludi says, for doing business. "It's crazy.''

 So if it's not broken,  why did the city try to fix it?

The business owners, who are most affected by the change, say city officials told them that the noon to 4 p.m. ordinance is what's always been on the books.

It's the law and that's it.  It may be the law, but it's bad for business.  The neighborhood services department and the division of traffic and signals need to sit down and hash this out.

The old rule, or wrong rule, was great for business owners, but the recent change raises an interesting question: How did the 7 to 9 a.m. restriction last for at least 45 years, when it should always have been "no parking" from noon to 4 p.m.?

Still waiting for that answer, too, from the city.

"Nobody can find the ordinance or the resolution that authorizes 7 to 9 a.m.," Chaneyfield Jenkins says.

Abimael Velazquez needs something done fast. He's been selling men's clothing here for 28 years, and says this is the first time he has not done well.

His customers, who have been ticketed and towed, don't come back.

Velazquez says business is so slow that he had to lay off two employees and his sales have dropped 50 to 60 percent.

"This is a big problem,'' he says.

It's especially crucial since Christmas – his best time to do business – is not far away. He has every right to be worried if something doesn't happen to help the merchants.

"Everything they do is to hurt the business owners,'' says George Guerrero, owner of another furniture store. "If the customers can't come to shop here, they're going to go to the mall, they're going to go where there's parking.''

Angel Martinez, who leases space in a building that he owns to a surgical supply business, had business owners sign petitions about the issue.

"I think it's falling on deaf ears,'' say Martinez, speaking about their plight. "The business owners are biting the bullet because they have less parking.''

At this point, he says, they are willing to compromise with a "no parking" designation from noon to 2 p.m.  

It's not great, but it's better than what they have now.

If it goes back to 7 to 9 a.m., Chaneyfield Jenkins says, that's okay with her, too. While streets have to be cleaned, she says "no parking" restrictions in commercial areas are not friendly to small business owners throughout the city.

Three choices are on the table for the city.  One of them has to work out.

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