More than 100 community members attended a public hearing yesterday to voice their opinions on proposed legislation that would give the Board of Aldermen the ability to regulate the parking rates of independent institutions.
The legislation committee, chaired by Ward 1 Alderman Ben Healey, heard testimony from a variety of authorities including officials from the Connecticut Center for a New Economy (CCNE), a coalition of civil rights and faith based groups, Yale University, and Yale-New Haven Hospital. The bill’s proponents say the aldermen could provide much-needed oversight, but University officials contend the proposal unfairly targets the school and could possibly hinder the progress of the Yale-New Haven Cancer Center.
The legislation would require changes in parking fees for institutions with 15,000 parkers to be reviewed and approved by the Board of Aldermen. Without the legislation in place, the Board of Alderman is currently without any mechanism to oversee large development, Healey said.
“In the long run development costs will be a lot higher if we don’t have sensible parking regulation,” Healey said. “This allows for a holistic approach.”
At the moment, the large institutions apply to the board of zoning appeals on parking issues, a process which Healey said sidelines the legislative body.
Yale Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand said the legislative change would single out select institutions for a higher standard of review.
“This legislation would add new burdens and costs to an already burdensome and costly approval process, without adding any new value,” Morand said. “This legislation would give the Board of Aldermen the authority to regulate the parking rates of independent institutions using their own private property.”
But Joe Hulio, chair of East Rock Community Management Team, said the current regulatory work of the mayor’s office has been disappointing and that he would like to see more aldermanic oversight.
“The University has been in violation of ordinances, and the executive branch has done nothing,” Hulio said. “Yale employees park in our neighborhoods and take the shuttle to avoid high Yale fees.”
The majority of the audience indicated their support for the legislation with cheers and applause. Rev. Scott Marks — the CCNE New Haven director and organizer for Community Organized for Responsible Development, which helped raise public awareness of the hearing with fliers — said parking has been a major issue among community members for some time now.
“We feel that the people here should have a voice at the table, we are all neighbors and we should act in that manner,” Marks said. “One of the resounding issues was parking, parking, parking.”
But Morand said the proposed changes would increase the cost of development projects that are already in the works. Norman Roth, a Yale-New Haven senior vice president, said the legislation will impede progress with the YNHH Cancer Center.
“It will create a new regulatory barrier for the construction of the center,” Roth said. “Delaying the Cancer Center will cause more harm than can be measured in parking spaces and revenue.”
New Haven resident Sandy Elkin-Randy said she thought the hearing was unfair to the hospital.
“I’m seeing a really closed-minded aldermanic board, I don’t think they’re looking at the bigger picture,” Elkin Randy said. “It’s absurd to blame Yale-New Haven Hospital.”
Instead of altering the current government structure, Morand suggested the city focus on repairing the existing regulations.
“The complaints — can all be solved by administrative and enforcement actions under existing laws,” Morand said.
When asked what the impact would be on the student body, Morand said he would prefer not to hypothesize.
“We don’t expect it to pass,” Morand said.
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