Brookhaven Town officials have crafted a reasonable solution to a knotty problem -- large numbers of parked cars that overflow driveways and clog narrow streets in residential areas. The major source of the problem is rental houses. The plan would limit vehicles at such homes to the number of bedrooms plus one. A three-bedroom house, in other words, would be allowed four cars.
The plan, which is more flexible than laws in some East End towns aimed at stopping summer rental overcrowding, smartly includes an appeals process, via the zoning board of appeals. Invariably, situations will arise that demand exemptions -- such as families with adult children living at home.
Both safety and aesthetics require some action. Excessive on-street parking inhibits snowplows and street sweepers, and Brookhaven officials say police, fire and ambulance personnel have reported difficulty traveling along some streets. Officials also are concerned with appearances; rental housing, they say, should blend into a neighborhood of single-family homes. It's a legitimate concern.
The town says it is not targeting its high-profile problem with off-campus student rentals in Stony Brook. That's good. Because despite stories about driveways painted over with parking stalls, Stony Brook is not the only community in Brookhaven plagued by excessive on-street parking.
In that vein, town officials acknowledge the problem also exists to a lesser degree in some areas without rental housing. They should consider extending the law to all houses. A clogged street is a clogged street, whether the residents are renters or homeowners.