Nearly 50 Charlestown residents gathered at Charlestown High School last Thursday, June 18, for the second public meeting regarding proposed changes to the neighborhood’s parking regulations.
Attorney Erin Woods and Boston Police Officer Shannon Fabiano-McLaughlin began circulating a petition in May in hopes of changing the resident-only hours from 8am-8pm to 6pm-10am.
They hope that the new hours will prevent non-residents from leaving their cars in Charlestown all day when they go downtown to work and/or all night when they go downtown for various sporting and theater events.
Charlestown neighborhood liaison Tom McKay fielded questions and kept arguments at bay throughout the hour-long meeting.
One woman spoke up in approval of the new hours, saying that she’d rather drive around looking for a space during the day than at night. A man with a young baby voiced his agreement.
Others, however, fear that the changes will make daytime tasks like running errands impossible.
“I hope you keep in mind the thousands of tourists who impact the area,” said a man who lives near the Bunker Hill monument. “My wife and I are both over 80. We don’t want to carry our groceries from four or five streets away.”
Though McKay said that changes to regulations can’t be decided precinct by precinct, he did mention the possibility of restrictions on main streets being tailored to accommodate local businesses.
Another major concern is the hassle overnight resident-only parking would create for visiting relatives and friends.
“I want my son and my friends to be able to come over some evenings,” one man said.
“Your friends don’t pay taxes here,” another woman replied. “I do.”
One resident suggested a guest pass program similar to the one in place in Chicago, where he used to live.
“I’d like to have relatives visit, and I’m willing to pay for it,” he said. “It could be a revenue builder for the neighborhood.”
McKay said that such a program would have to be citywide and could not be limited to a single neighborhood.
Nearly everyone who spoke at the meeting shared a common frustration over high insurance costs and lack of convenient parking. Woods said she’s heard many people express desire for 24/7 resident-only parking. This is currently not under consideration due to the level of enforcement required. Concern was also expressed over the impression of exclusivity such restrictions would perpetrate.
Generally, McKay explained, petitions must be met with 51 percent approval in order for the mayor’s office to take action. In this case, though, he said the office merely needs to see “significant interest.”
“When we talk about making changes for the whole neighborhood, it’s not possible to reach every single person,” he said.
Woods and Fabiano-McLaughlin will continue to collect signatures in an attempt to garner more support.
The full text of the petition can be found online, and more meetings will be scheduled in the upcoming months.
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