Hernandez, a resident of Wayne Street near Journal Square, appeared in front of the City Council on Nov. 9 and described all his parking problems. The 20-year city resident, who works at U.S. Trust Company on Washington Boulevard, is pushing for a revision of the city's permit parking laws.
"When I park close to work, I get a ticket due to the fact that I'm parking in zone 5 with a zone 2 parking sticker, even though I'm still in downtown," he said in a letter to this newspaper recently. " What's a person to do?"
Hernandez recently said he contacted the Jersey City Parking Authority in September to request a permit that would allow him to park in almost all parking zones in the city, which would enable him to park near his workplace.
Different sections of the city have their own parking zones, and residents who park on the streets are required to get a permit for their zone. Those who park in a zone for which they do not have a permit can park for up to two hours. But if they park beyond that time limit, and they can either expect a $42 ticket or, in several areas in the city, a ticket and steel boot placed on their tire that costs $75 and a trip to the Parking Authority.
Hernandez said that on Sept. 21, he was issued a 30-day temporary permit that allowed him to park in different zones in the city while Robert Dalton, the recently hired director of the Parking Authority, would determine if Hernandez should be issued a more permanent permit.
But that was only the start of Hernandez's ordeal.Hernandez's dilemma
On Oct. 14, Hernandez saw that his temporary permit was expiring, and called the Parking Authority to see if his actual permit was ready.
"I called the Parking Authority about my permit, but I didn't get a call back," said Hernandez.
He soon called the Mayor's Action Bureau, City Councilman Steven Fulop, the mayor's office and Deputy Mayor Carl Czaplicki to get an answer.
After all that effort, Hernandez got a call back from Dalton - but it was not the answer Hernandez wanted.
"Dalton called me back [angry] because of the calls he received from [Councilman Fulop's] assistant, and he told me, 'I've made up my mind and I've decided I won't give the permit after all,' " said Hernandez.
Dalton declined to comment on the situation for the record, but said he will respond and discuss the city's parking issues in the near future.
"I asked him to reconsider his position," Hernandez said. "And when I asked him what I should do, he said 'take a bus or rent a space.' "
Hernandez said in front of the City Council that the incident left him feeling "insulted" as a taxpaying resident. Some believe revisions are needed
City Clerk Robert Byrne sympathized with Hernandez's plight and agreed that permit parking in Jersey City "needs some attention." Byrne said he would take part in a committee that would strive to revise permit parking in the city.
Several city councilmen, including Fulop and Ward D Councilman William Gaughan, also concurred that a city resident should be allowed to park in any section of the city.
But City Council President Mariano Vega urged caution about revising the permit parking program. He said allowing residents to park anywhere in the city would create more bottlenecking in areas with a high density of vehicular and pedestrian traffic, such as Exchange Place and Newport.
Vega also pointed out that permits for parking in any section of the city should be reserved for teachers and other workers whose jobs require them to relocate. Other dilemmas and solutions
Alfred Tauriello, a Hancock Avenue resident, recently expressed via e-mail to this newspaper the frustration about parking that he and family members have experienced in their neighborhood.
"We live on Hancock Avenue near Washington Park. The problem in our area is that there is no parking after 6 p.m.; you either double-park, find a spot two blocks away from where one lives, or park on a corner and pray that you're not ticketed," said Tauriello. "I've considered moving out of the city just because of the parking situation. I hope someone can resolve this problem."
Tauriello said last week that he purchased his home with the hope that he would be able to build a carport in front of the house.
Carports are roofed, open-sided storage places for a car, or portable sheds propped up by metal poles. In Jersey City, many residents wish to create carports on available property in front of their homes. But laws currently prohibit these potential eyesores.
Gaughan wants to make carports legal because of the increased parking in much of the Heights section he represents.
Daniel Levin, a Third Street resident, believes he has an answer for the parking problem downtown.
"A real solution would be to increase the cost of parking permits for overnight street parking to $100, $200 a year, and use the revenue to both create and reduce the cost of centralized parking lots or garages," stated Levin in an e-mail to this newspaper.
Levin, as the former president of the downtown neighborhood group the Harsimus Cove Association, helped create a traffic survey in 2001 that explored improving pedestrian safety through traffic related improvements in downtown Jersey City.
Levin, who does not drive, also stated that "the city can do more to take advantage of our density and infrastructure to promote mass and alternative transportation; biking and walking. There are not that many reasons for anyone to drive within Jersey City, yet most do."
Angelo Stracquatanio, however, takes a slightly different tack on how to deal with parking in certain parts of the city.
Stracquatanio, a Zabriskie Avenue resident, sees a number of two-family houses built on his block and other blocks nearby that end up containing an extra, illegal apartment.
"They have to get rid of all these illegal apartments, since to me, they are overcrowding all the parking systems," said Stracquatanio. "Many of these renters have one or two cars, and people are afraid to leave their homes and drive away since they'll come back home and not find a spot."