What do you do when you’re a traffic engineer hired to come up with a plan to accommodate 2,500 additional cars entering the heart of Brooklyn on a semi-regular basis? Well, if you’re Samuel Schwartz, you don’t add fuel to the fire by building a ton of parking:

Mr. Schwartz, a traffic commissioner during the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch, said the strategy unveiled on Tuesday — counterintuitive as it might seem — was to provide fewer, not more parking spaces for the 2,500 cars expected, according to surveys, in a “worst case scenario.”

Earlier sketches of Atlantic Yards included 1,100 spaces on its grounds, but Mr. Schwartz recommended half that number.

Here’s the money quote:

“We will scare drivers away from the arena,” Mr. Schwartz said in an interview. “My message to New Yorkers is, Don’t even think of driving to the Barclays arena.”

Will it work? Some Brooklyn Councilmembers were skeptical.  Despite New York City’s generally excellent transit coverage, there are some significant gaps in train coverage for riders attempting to travel between the outer boroughs. Kudos to Schwartz for coming up with a plan that tries to address parking from the demand side, not the supply side.

24 Replies to “A Bold Move for Barclays Center in Brooklyn”

  1. I like it! And what I like even more from Gridlock Sam (yes, he calls himself that and it’s also the name of his website) is his idea of charging bicyclists a 50 cent toll to enter Manhattan.


    This article also makes me realize that we’re being told a lie here in Seattle. We’ve been told that once we build out Link, we won’t need cars anymore. Trains will be so convenient and frequent that owning a car will be completely unnecessary. But this very post reminds us that even in NYC, which probably has the best train system in the US, they are STILL thinking up ways of forcing people not to drive their cars. If having the best mass transit train system in America isn’t enough to convince people to take public transit, how will a second-rate light rail system convince people to give up their cars?

    1. Yes. Link has promised that every person in the metro region will be able to get rid of their cars. And that their children will become doctors. And everyone will get a pony.

  2. Be the change you want to see in the world. Instead of waiting for some leader to propose something like this, why don’t we take it upon ourselves to make these kinds of proposals? For example, isn’t there a blogger here that works at Microsoft? Since Microsoft Redmond Campus is one of the worst offenders in terms of land use and parking, I challenge that employee to email the executives at Microsoft, and demand that they get rid of all of their parking lots, or at least start charging employees to park in them.

    Then again, it’s a whole lot easier and safer to take a stand for things that are clear across the country.

      1. How did we arrive at this state of affairs?

        We can’t get a no-net-loss-of-affordable-housing law, but no-net-loss-of-car-parking seems to have been written into some clerk’s preamble to a Supreme Court decision a century or so ago. Parking stalls seem to have achieved personhood.

    1. In microeconomic terms, it simply doesn’t make any sense for Microsoft to charge for parking. As Martin says, the parking that Microsoft has (and is legally required to have) is more than sufficient for any possible amount of employee demand. Charging for an abundant resource is just silly.

      The resource that is in short supply is the road capacity getting to and from Redmond. Microsoft spends lots of money on subsidizing alternate commutes (such as by giving every employee an ORCA pass, running the Connector and Shuttle Connect services, and subsidizing vanpools), and has categorically refused to reimburse employees for 520 tolls for any reason. They have also contributed heavily to the construction of the 36th/31st St bridge that provides much-needed additional capacity between the east and west parts of campus, and are contributing heavily to the 520 rebuild that will add continuous center HOV lanes from Montlake to Overlake.

      I think that it’s short-sighted of Microsoft that they have no development teams based on the Westside (their one Seattle building is primarily for sales, I believe). I think it would make a lot of sense to have some engineering teams based in South Lake Union, and to have some research teams based near UW (a frequent collaborator). I know a number of people who left Microsoft for positions at Amazon almost entirely because of the location. But it wouldn’t make any sense for Microsoft to pack up and move to Seattle, because over 80% of their employees live on the Eastside. And it doesn’t make sense for Microsoft to abandon their whole campus and consolidate in a dozen towers in Bellevue, because most of their employees would still drive to work, and so Microsoft would have to provide tons of parking in a location where space is much scarcer (and so devoting land to parking is that much more costly).

      Given Microsoft’s history and the 30 years of consequences from their land use decisions in the 80s and 90s, I actually think they’re doing pretty darn well. Expecting them to change everything overnight is silly.

  3. As much as I’d love to add to the discussion of Jewish history, I know absolutely nothing about the topic.

    Instead, I’ll comment that the Barclays center is in a pretty unique location. It is being built on top of an old LIRR yard. So, it has easy connections to every IRT line and most of the BMT lines (depending on how you count that’s around 6 different lines, each of which would dwarf our Link. It’s also an easy walk from the A, C, and G (IIRC). And (obviously) the LIRR is an easy connection. So, almost everyone has good public transportation options to get there–there’s no reason to subsidize parking.

      1. (file under: eminent domain abuse, hard debunking of “sports stimulus”, real density versus corporate density)

      2. Since when are documentarians required to give equal weight to the big-money “agenda”?

        Fortunately, Geoff, just a couple of years of hindsight have completely lain waste to any and all “pro-Barclays” arguments:

        Only the arena was built. All of the towers/retail/mixed-usage/everything that was supposed to be built has been cancelled and paved over.

        – All of the Frank Gehry architectural elements were cancelled. No new majestic gateway to Brooklyn here (that was a big part of the civic pitch). The result looks like every other corporate sports blob of the modern era.

        – Of the tens of thousands of construction jobs specifically promised to underemployed nearby communities of color, only a couple hundred ever materialized.

        Watch the film, Geoff. You’ll see how developer Bruce Ratner “astroturfed” the process by paying a fake “pro-jobs, pro-stadium” organization to bombard public meetings and overwhelm any honest debate.

        Ratner, borough president Marty Markowitz, and Jay-fucking-Z are nothing but liars and thieves.

      3. Ooh… I forgot about the part where they gerrymandered a “blighted area” in order to condemn and eminent-domain it, including a recently rehabilitated 10-story building full of million-dollar condos, yet excluding a run-down structure next door whose property they didn’t want to acquire.

        Classic “urban renewal” corruption, right there!

      4. The Barclays arena was a massive giveaway of money — a giveaway *from* the MTA (transit money) *to* a private developer.

        It has been roundly excoriated by every public-interest group I can think of. It was really a completely intolerable giveaway.

    1. Uh…and you’ve ridden these lines?

      At night?

      (‘Cause I sure have. Cuz.)

      1. I’m confused as to why people who are ostensibly terrified of Brooklyn would want to go to a sporting event in Brooklyn in the first place.

      2. I for one like Brooklyn, and rode nothing but the subway when I stayed there. Including at night. With my 2 year old. It’s actually very family friendly, with neighbors sitting on stairs in front of the sidewalk talking, and the city water park we visited was excellent.

  4. Ultimately, why not simply incarcerate the entire population of New York City and force them to live in 8×8 cells. Such an arrangement would be highly “walkable” and energy efficient.

    1. In New York City, they send convicted criminals “up the river”, because the worst punishment they can imagine is to force them to live upstate.

      (OK, that’s may not be the real reason, but they really do send all the prisoners upstate.)

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