City Councilor Michelle Wu will hold a hearing next week, June 28, to begin examining the residential parking program citywide – including the extensive program in Charlestown.
Wu put in a hearing order last year, and action was slow to come on the matter, but she said the Council is ready now to take stock of the program and see if there are pro-neighborhood changes that can be made.
The program could mean charging for and counting residential stickers – which now is not done. While many cities charge for residential parking stickers and closely monitor the numbers given out, Boston has never done that with its program.
“There is no specific amount of money being proposed for a charge now and no neighborhoods being looked at now,” said Wu. “The goal is to look at the program and find out more data. There are more stickers given out now than there are spaces in some neighborhoods. The program is not very efficient. We want to look at the data first and understand the gap between the numbers of stickers and the demand for parking in each neighborhood. Right now, we have estimates, but no specific numbers of spaces.”
Councilor Lydia Edwards said there is a parking problem, and it will be important to start with a census of the numbers of parking spaces in Charlestown and their designations – whether resident, two-hour or commercial.
“Look, right now we have a parking problem,” she said. “Councilor Matt O’Malley and I want to conduct a parking census to find out how much street parking we actually have. Before we start assessing any fines or charging for stickers, let’s set what we have. I also want a comprehensive look at what relief we can provide to seniors especially those that need home health aides, teachers who have to leave the classroom to pay the meters and visitors.”
In Charlestown, the resident parking program is very critical as much of the street parking is restricted for residents only from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. – mostly to prevent northern commuters from parking all day in the Town and taking the train downtown. That situation is exactly the opposite in other parts of the city, where resident parking is either all day long or in the night hours.
Wu said the study will take into account the different characteristics of each neighborhood like Charlestown – and it won’t be a one-size-fits-all solution, if adopted.
“You have a place like South Boston where the need is greater and it’s so much more densely populated,” she said. “That’s different compared to JP where other off-street parking in the neighborhood is available, but often can be taken up by commuters who park and take the train – taking all their off-street parking. That’s why we want to find the gaps in demand in each neighborhood.”
She said they would likely report to the full Council at the next meeting after the hearing, but that any action is far off.
Before anything could be changed, she said they would have to file ordinance language and bring that to the Council, which will probably happen later in the summer or fall.
The meeting takes place in City Hall at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 28.