Norwalk officials explain steps to residential parking passes 

A car is parked in front of a “No Parking” sign in Norwalk. (Photo by Claire Schoen)

Many residents have been asking for years for a residential parking pass program. This week, Norwalk officials outlined the necessary steps  to start one, while cautioning that it  might not solve all of the residents’ concerns.

Jim Travers, director of the city’s Transportation, Mobility, and Parking Department, told the Planning and Zoning Commission at its meeting on Wednesday that currently, there is no  enforcement mechanism in place. 

“[City] ordinance doesn’t allow the parking authority the ability to do a residential parking program,” he said. “It doesn’t allow them the ability to do enforcement beyond the metered parking zones.”

For that reason, the first step involves  working with the Mayor’s Office to discuss what such  enforcement would look like.That meeting has already taken place. Next, the parking authority, together with the Ordinance Committee of the Common Council, will draft an ordinance giving the parking authority the legal ability to enforce residential parking.

“Once we have the legal ability to do that, we can design how the program would look, but there’s just not a legal mechanism in order to do it today,” he said. 

Ana Tabachneck, a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said a residential parking program was among the recommendations for the East Norwalk TOD plan, which is why she asked  Travers to provide an update to the commission. 

“We have an East Norwalk Transit-Oriented Development project that was, in many ways, part and parcel of including residential parking permits, and we have buildings going up under that,” she said. “That it was a key recommendation of the East Norwalk TOD plan and I know I wasn’t on the zoning [commission] then, but the main reason that, as a resident, I supported the East Village TOD was because of the inclusion of a recommendation for a residential parking pass program.”

However, both Travers and Steve Kleppin, the city’s director of Planning and Zoning, cautioned that a residential parking program wouldn’t necessarily help  address parking concerns over new residential developments. 

“If there’s a building going up there, they’re still residents, so they would qualify for resident parking,” Travers said. “So residential parking zones are really enacted when there’s (a) major traffic generator that’s creating opportunities for people who live outside the neighborhood that would come in.”

Kleppin gave the example of people driving to the train stations but not wanting to pay to park, so instead, they park on nearby residential streets and take spaces from residents. That type of issue could be addressed through a residential parking pass program, he said. 

“One of the reasons [the residential parking pass program] was put in was because there was concern voiced about spillover from other uses and other areas onto the residential streets,” Kleppin said. “The fact that the people who lived on those streets weren’t able to actually park on their streets because of spillover, so one way to potentially address that was to figure out who is parking there and why and come up with the permit program.” 

Kleppin said that while the issue was raised with the East Norwalk plan, once the Parking Authority has the ability to enforce parking violations, residential parking programs would be available for the asking by a majority of residents on a street or in a neighborhood.

Based on similar programs elsewhere, Travers said, residents would simply register their license plates. The parking authority would run them through a license plate reader to identify unregistered vehicles.

Enforcing residential parking permits is part of the RFP the city put out for a parking management contract, he said. The current one with LAZ expires this year. 

Travers said the parking authority will  continue to work with the Mayor’s Office and the Common Council to draft an ordinance around the authority’s enforcement abilities.  


5 responses to “Norwalk officials explain steps to residential parking passes ”

  1. Becca Stoll

    With congestion pricing imminent in NYC, this feels like a no-brainer potential source of revenue. I wonder if a study has been done on how many East Norwalk train station parking spots are open, and if there are other places that we could charge something nominal (ie slightly less than the $15 per ride it would cost someone to drive into the CBD) for some form of park and riding. I realize we have space constraints that a station like Westport or Noroton Heights does not, but rather than discourage all non-resident Street parking, let’s make something of it.

  2. David Bailey

    A “Residential Parking Zone” has been established in our neighborhood (up Garner street from the mall) ever since the mall was being constructed due to all the construction workers parking on our streets to avoid paying for parking. There are signs up on Garner street and all side streets stating “2 HR PARKING | ZONE GH | PER DAY”. So it can and is being done.
    There are definitely some challenges with this solution for home owners, like having to register the license plates for all personal and visitor vehicles parking for more than 2 hours (think parties or dinner guests), it is still better than the alternative of not having space to park for residents and their guests.
    As a suggestion, to alleviate some of aggravation with having to register legitimate visitor vehicles so they do not get ticketed, I don’t see why a couple guest passes, with unique ID #’s or QR Codes, couldn’t be issued to each homeowner for their visitors to display on their dashboard while parked. That way code enforcement could verify the parked vehicle is valid just as they look up a registered license plate number.

    1. Ana Tabachneck

      I suspect this is similar to the resident parking zone on some streets near the East Norwalk train station. As recently as 3 years ago we would register our plates with the parking authority and there would be signs not to park there without a permit during certain hours.

      What I found out was that there wasn’t any enforcement going on, because the NPD who was authorized to enforce non-metered parking, wasn’t doing it, and the parking authority wasn’t authorized to do it.

      I never had the need to call anyone to ticket cars, because we always had spaces, but no one was driving around checking plates, and I’m told if we had tried to report unpermitted cars it’s unlikely anything would have happened.

      Have you seen permitted cars get ticketed?

      I was told that this system was somewhat unofficial, or half-baked. For me, it worked well enough.

      But I understand why TMP would want to have a system that includes full enforcement, and a clear and way to identify where permits are needed, rather than the current ad hoc scenario.

      I’m glad that they are taking steps to move this forward!

  3. James Cahn

    As Becca suggests, in a city that is clearly desperate for ever increasing sources of revenue, this seems like a no brainer:

    1. Aggressively enforce the already existing but ignored prohibition on overnight commercial vehicle parking. Seize some of the revenue these operators have retained by ignoring the ordinance and not paying to properly store and park their vehicle as required.

    2. Require vehicles seeking a residential parking permit to be registered in and paying property taxes to Norwalk. You’d get all the unregistered, out of state plates to start paying taxes.

    3. Implement a 48 or 72 hour on-street parking limitation. On residential streets, for months on flat tires and with a dead battery is no way to store a vehicle.

    4. Ticket and tow aggressively. We will both free up needed parking and capture revenue that should be being collected already.

  4. Eugene Derfinyak

    I am glad to see people are admitting what this is going to be, nothing more than a revenue stream. I have a better idea, stop spending so much and get it under control. It is simply amazing what people will do when they are using someone else’s money. Sorry folks, it does not grow on trees and there is a limit to what people can endure.

    As for Parking Enforcement, that organization is rife with errors. I have seen LAZ Parking issue tickets where they are not deserved, nor earned. There are serious problems within the system, and I have experienced it personally and watched others experience it.

    I was issued a ticket in 2020, when everything was mostly shut down, except for the parks. I bought a new vehicle and could not get it onto the list because City Hall was closed. The only option was to go to the little window and hope they can address your problem quickly. Well I attempted to do that during lunch, because I was working longer than the window was open. The line was long, so I went home as I had meeting to attend. About 2 months later LAZ issued a ticket. It took several phone calls and emails, and I was finally able to get it dismissed. My time is valuable, yet I have never heard from the city on when they will reimburse me for the hours I had to spend correcting this problem they created.

    Last summer I watched LAZ issue a summons to a person from Ridgefield, at the Beach. Well, guess what, that was in error. The guy had purchased a pass for the beach and parks for several hundred dollars. That did not matter to the parking enforcement, if it was not in there dumb terminal it must receive a ticket. They guy carried his proof with him, just in case. He even went with LAZ parking to the parking shack in the parking lot. The head of Parks and Rec was present and she agreed he was valid and should not be ticketed. No matter, she had no authority to override the error. Subsequently he had to leave to prevent from getting the ticket and possibly being towed. Not sure where he should go to get a refund since he is out of town working during City Hall hours. Yet another problem created by the city for revenue.

    I have also been told there are several other people that have been issued tickets when they have submitted their plates to the system. They supposedly also had to take time out of their day to fix the problem created by the Norwalk Parking Authority. Many years ago I used to live in NYC. They had some of the most strict parking rules. People would always try to find and use creative ways to not pay for parking. With all these ongoing problems and people always trying to beat the system, I am not putting much faith into the government to run this efficiently. However, I have full faith they will grossly overestimate the projected revenue and then spend 2-3 times that amount before the first dollar is actually realized.

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