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eltron

Overnight Onstreet Parking

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I am currently working on a proposal in the Elmwood/Southside neighborhoods regarding the topic of overnight onstreet parking in Providence, and I am very interested in getting all your feedback on this highly contentious (at least in Providence!) issue.

Providence currently does not allow overnight onstreet parking. When I moved to Providence a year and a half ago, this was shocking to me. It is the only significantly urban city that I know, other than a few oddball municipalities like Brookline, MA, that does this.

In my opinion, allowing overnight onstreet parking will solve many problems affecting livability in Providence's neighborhoods:

-currently people pave over every available inch of their yard to accomodate cars. This exacerbates the very real problem in Providence of lack of tree canopy cover and greenspace. Providence is currently LAST in tree canopy cover of any city its size, and I think the parking issue is a big part of it.

-traffic calming- onstreet parking in an orderly, regulated fashion, will narrow streets, which will naturally slow down traffic in our neighborhoods, without the need for elaborate traffic calming devices we now use, like speedbumps, intersection islands, and curb bumpouts.

-housing- lowering the offstreet parking requirement in the zoning ordinance would encourage higher density construction, which in turn will create more housing units and keep the market stable. The classic triple-decker, or even a 3-unit victorian, is not allowed under current zoning because of the off-street parking requirement.

I know that the east side is concerned with students parking overnight on the street, and they have been very much opposed to the issue in the past. Is it really that big an issue over there and are there ways to compromise? anyone else have any other ideas or strong views on the matter?

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Permit Parking may be a way to go. In Somerville, MA (I think it's in Somerville), each household gets two guest parking permits that can be displayed in visitors' windshields. We also have to ensure that parking is available in areas like Thayer Street and Federal Hill for people using businesses there, I'd hate to see overnight parking allowed only to see all the onstreet spaces taken over by bar patrons on Federal Hill.

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Permit Parking may be a way to go.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Yep, I think permit parking is definitely the route to take. Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville all have various permit parking programs for residents, with temporary permits issued for visitors. In all three cities, the cost of the permit is nominal, from 5 dollars a year in Somerville, to 8 dollars (I believe) per year in Cambridge.

Parking zones are distinctly laid out to allow for businesses and residences. I agree, we have to make sure all the spots aren't taken up by people in restaurants and bars on Atwells, but we also have to be sure that there are enough 2 hour spots available for those people that aren't taken up by people parking their cars overnight.

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Permit Parking may be a way to go. In Somerville, MA (I think it's in Somerville), each household gets two guest parking permits that can be displayed in visitors' windshields. We also have to ensure that parking is available in areas like Thayer Street and Federal Hill for people using businesses there, I'd hate to see overnight parking allowed only to see all the onstreet spaces taken over by bar patrons on Federal Hill.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I thoroughly agree. The lack of overnight parking in Providence drives me crazy. We have a 3 family house and currently live on 2 floors and rent out the first. Our driveway is pretty long, but only one car wide, so every morning and evening there ends up being an elaborate routine of shuffleing cars around. Our street has plenty of room for parking on both sides without impeding traffic in any way, and its not a dense enough area for it to ever be an issue. I totally dont comprehend the lack of overnight parking. I think the best bet would be for it to be allowed city wide, but then issue permits in the districts that need it (East Side, Federal Hill, maybe even in some of the area around PC with heavy student population). I would be SO excited to see the ban lifted.

Liam

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I agree, the ban is stupid, and should be lifted. But there would be consequences.

I do understand why some college neighbors are concerned. When I was on college hill for four years, I never had a car. Nor did most of my friends. I'd wager that only 15-20% of Brown students had a car, and probably less for RISd students. Granted, there were school parking lots available WAY out there, but who wants to walk 20 minutes to get to your car, when downtown is only a 15 minute walk?

I can only imagine what would happen to college hill if overnight parking were allowed. It would eliminate the major logistical barier for students bringing their cars. I wouldn't be surprised to see an immediate flood of 2000-4000+ extra cars on college hill and fox point alone.

Permit parking might work, but here's the question ...

In order to keep the thousands of student cars off the streets, the permits will have to be expensive (because students are renters just like everyone else, and will have a right to buy them). But if the permits are too expensive, won't most people just keep on parking in their paved-over lawns anyway?

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Off-campus students would have to be treated like any other city resident, but students in Campus housing could be excluded from receiving Parking Permits. That's how it works in Boston.

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I agree, permit parking is the way to go and I love Somerville's guest pass policy. Cambridge's is more annoying - you have to apply for a guest pass instead of automatically getting 2.

In order to keep the thousands of student cars off the streets, the permits will have to be expensive (because students are renters just like everyone else, and will have a right to buy them). But if the permits are too expensive, won't most people just keep on parking in their paved-over lawns anyway?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have a couple of questions regarding that - what percentage live off-campus and what percentage live on-campus?

With the colleges' help, this could easily be taken care of. In Northampton, MA they allowed overnight resident parking but not for students. The was easily accomplished by for the following reasons (without high fees):

1. The college was clear in all channels - from the application viewbook to the annual housing lottery to the student guidebooks to postings in houses - you can not bring your car here

2. 90% of students lived on-campus, so they had no local address with which to get a permit

3. The town police actually enforced the law

By issuing a limited number of permits for each legal residence, this could easily be taken care of. So whether the triplex next door to you is inhabited by three childless couples or 12 Brown sophomores, only 3 (or whatever) cars will be (legally) on-street.

And I'd like to point out that a large number of college students in PVD can more easily pay a high permit fee than I can, so that method would really have the opposite effect than the one intended.

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I think most, if not all of College Hill and some of the East Side should stay the way it is now, with no permits or overnight parking. I realize you all are talking about Providence as a whole but I think I have a few valid points about the East Side:

Snow removal becomes an impossiblity with cars parked over night and with the streets already narrow, traffic slows and this causes a good deal of damage as they get more narrow when it snows. (A few weeks ago I counted 4 cars on one block with side mirrors smashed off!!)

I'm also concerned about what this might do for crime in the neighborhood. As it is, I see broken glass on just about every street from break-ins on the east side but if college kids, or anyone else, leave their cars for days-weeks at a time I have a hunch that the number incidents of this will increase.

Does the East side need more parking? sure, but I'd rather spend my time discouraging people from bringing them here in the first place (particularly college students.) Brown currently provides parking for students which live in the dorms (just some upperclassmen) but its not an all out ban. Those students who rent in the community have a decent argument for permits but they aren't burdened with the property taxes home/condo owners are subjected to (which are through the roof! I know people who pay upwards of 30k a year!!) While I realize taxes are another issue and that not all people who live on the east side own property, I just sympathize with people who have to pay so much and get less in return for their money than people who pay less taxes.

One more thing... if permits are an idea for the east side/college hill, has anyone thought about what that'll do to local businesses. Thayer street/downtown comes to mind and if its all/mostly relegated to permit parking (not just thayer but all surrounding streets) wouldn't that hurt business dramatically?

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Try being a cop and getting a high priority call at 3am. & you have to speed down a street in a residential are like oakland, pembroke etc. Now picture the scenario with and without cars.

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Good points, but I think each and every one of these problems is effectively addressed in other places, particularly Cambridge and Somerville, MA, which interestingly, taken together, almost exactly matches the population, density, and institutional areas (ie. colleges) as Providence....

Snow removal becomes an impossiblity with cars parked over night and with the streets already narrow, traffic slows and this causes a good deal of damage as they get more narrow when it snows. (A few weeks ago I counted 4 cars on one block with side mirrors smashed off!!)

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

During snow events, cars are banned from one side of the street, ie. odd or even. This allows plows to clear most of the street and gives adequate room for parked cars. People then dig their own cars out. Keep in mind that this is even remotely a problem during extreme snow events in town, which only happens maybe twice a year. Also keep in mind that overnight onstreet parking is only an option - if you've got an offstreet spot, all the better.

The odd-even parking ban scheme is also in effect one night per month in Cambridge and every other week in Somerville for street sweeping...not that thats a problem in Providence considering how infrequently this occurs !

I'm also concerned about what this might do for crime in the neighborhood.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

This is a classic argument I have heard about the ban, apparantly going waaaaay back to the days when crime was a bit more rampant in Providence. Will there be petty crime? Undoubtedly - but I think that with the strides that have been made on crime in the city, and the changing climate of virtually every single neighborhood in the (even the "bad" ones), its not going to be problem. I don't think having cars on the street overnight is going to unleash a crimewave on the city... Remember, in the 80's, Somerville was literally the "Car Theft Capitol of America" bettering even Newark (and yes, Providence) and look at that place now. Again, with overnight onstreet parking, there should be even more options available for offstreet parking, if the safety of the car is at issue.

Does the East side need more parking? sure, but I'd rather spend my time discouraging people from bringing them here in the first place (particularly college students.) Brown currently provides parking for students which live in the dorms (just some upperclassmen) but its not an all out ban. Those students who rent in the community have a decent argument for permits but they aren't burdened with the property taxes home/condo owners are subjected to (which are through the roof! I know people who pay upwards of 30k a year!!) While I realize taxes are another issue and that not all people who live on the east side own property, I just sympathize with people who have to pay so much and get less in return for their money than people who pay less taxes.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Does the East Side need more parking? Would it be nice? Perhaps, but I don't think necessary. I think there are plenty of spots on the East Side. I'm mostly advocating for BETTER USE of the space that we have. Your point about homeowners is a good one, and I agree that we should in particular be discouraging students from bringing cars unless they are willing to pay for it. I suggest only PERMANENT residents be allowed to get permits, or for rentals only one permit is issued per dwelling unit, while owner-occupied units get two. Something like that. Remember again that lifting the overnight ban in theory will open up so many spots offstreet that if the kids (or more likely, their parents) are willing to pay, they can park their cars behind their building.

One more thing... if permits are an idea for the east side/college hill, has anyone thought about what that'll do to local businesses. Thayer street/downtown comes to mind and if its all/mostly relegated to permit parking (not just thayer but all surrounding streets) wouldn't that hurt business dramatically?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Residential permit zones would only be on residential streets - commercial streets like Thayer, Hope, Wickendon, Atwells, Broadway, Broad, most if not all of downtown, whatever, would be strictly two or at most four hour parking, as it is now.

As it is, good points kinematix, and I hope to get more feedback from people, particularly about the east side, because that seems to be the area where the most adament opposition is coming from, and I don't quite understand it when a place like Cambridge, almost EXACTLY its equal in urban layout, has few of the parking problems we do.

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Try being a cop and getting a high priority call at 3am. & you have to speed down a street in a residential are like oakland, pembroke etc.  Now picture the scenario with and without cars.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

some streets, obviously, would not be appropriate for overnight onstreet parking, or any onstreet parking, for that matter. I can think of a couple of cities - Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, DC, Philly, and so on and so forth - that allow overnight onstreet parking and their police and firemen get along just fine. Parking on the street is an urban reality.

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Important for permits to raise money, I think. Costs should be cheaper than rental spaces, but more than it takes to sustain the program.

Renters should, of course, have access -- they pay taxes through their rents and would happily take on-street spaces rather than rentals (which would mean money for the city).

Paving of green space is a huge problem, and would be reduced. (Some sort of incentive to tear up old pavement would be great, if there's something sensible that could be done.)

Requiring RI plates (and cars housed in Providence) reduce student use of the permit program, and mean there wouldn't be a ton of new cars brought to town.

Madison, WI deals with snow in a way that seems to make sense. They've got their regs on their website somewhere.

Excellent enforcement is key, with a squad (maybe not commissioned officers) to do the work, who wouldn't be called away for other business.

Boston determines which neighborhoods get permit parking on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis, democratically. That seems to make sense.

The keys are good enforcement, and generating money. We can do the latter even while making life easier for lots of people, since the current system can be so burdensome.

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I think most, if not all of College Hill and some of the East Side should stay the way it is now, with no permits or overnight parking.

I disagree for the ES as a whole, though College Hill is a different story and would be covered to a large extent by being a businees/retail area and not a residential area. The East Side is very large and has residents that include very wealthy homeowners, college students, yound professional renters, and college students. I think people get really reactionary about the college students and often take excessive measures that then hurt these other residents.

Allowing overnight parking to exisit doesn't = now everyone gets to park overnight everywhere. It just means that another option is on the table. I agree than many streets on the East side should not have overnight parking due to being busy (Butler/the Boulevard), too narrow or winding or whatever. But many others could easily accomodate overnight parking on one side.

Those students who rent in the community have a decent argument for permits but they aren't burdened with the property taxes home/condo owners are subjected to

I'm with Ild on this one. I rent half of a duplex with my boyfriend. We're both young professionals who are very responsible about the property and our cars and are involved with efforts to help beautify and keep our neighborhood safe. We pay our share of taxes via the rent and have just as much right to parking (or any other city service) as a landowner does.

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I rent half of a duplex with my boyfriend.  We're both young professionals who are very responsible about the property and our cars and are involved with efforts to help beautify and keep our neighborhood safe.  We pay our share of taxes via the rent and have just as much right to parking (or any other city service) as a landowner does.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Speaking of renters rights... There's an article in ProJo today about renters being notified about projects that impact their neighbourhood. Currently only the property owner receives notification about significant projects. The article states that 2/3 of Providence households are rentals.

Many longtime tenants are well-settled and active in the community and deserve consideration, said council Majority Leader Luis A. Aponte.

Indeed we are.

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Interesting article (even though it IS USA Today!)

The High Cost of Free Parking, published today by the American Planning Association (APA), is the first book on the economics and politics of parking. The 733-page comprehensive national examination is by Dr. Donald Shoup, FAICP, a UCLA professor who has spent a quarter century studying the impact our cars have, mostly when we aren

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"The book challenges traditional thinking that cheap and plentiful parking is smart public policy. It comes at a time when cities and companies are studying how much parking to provide workers and how to encourage wider use of mass transit."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

GTECH will not be providing enough parking for all of their employees or the other tenants in their new building. It'll be interesting to see how that shakes out.

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Oh... this is another contentious issue for me. I think that we should have a parking lot on the edge of the city somewhere, and no roads in the city itself, just subways, buses, and communal bikes. But, that will never happen.

When it comes to my house, though, I have another idea. Let me park in front of it! I have barely any yard, and a driveway will eat it up. My house is the last on a dead end, and yet I get ticketed when I park in front of it. Stupid! I've been fighting with the city for four years. East Siders need to come to terms with our own parking problem and the lack of green space, while downtown tries to figure its own out too.

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Oh... this is another contentious issue for me. I think that we should have a parking lot on the edge of the city somewhere, and no roads in the city itself, just subways, buses, and communal bikes. But, that will never happen.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I assume you have visited CarFree.

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I assume you have visited CarFree.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I wish I could be car free, but I run my own design business, so I need to travel to clients, sometimes to remote parts of CT, or Foxboro, well off the beaten path of the train. I'd love to get a scooter from JavaSpeed, but again, I'd have a scooter that i couldn't take on 95. for now, when it warms up, I'll ride my bike as much as possible. Maybe even keep my car at my studio instead on in front of my own house.

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I'm wondering about the possibilities for negotiating a more flexible overnight parking policy in downtown Providence. I'd like to push for changes on this issue, and I'm wondering about the strength of my case:

I'm a RISD grad student. My colleagues and I work late into the night, in buildings downtown, and overnight parking tickets present a problem for us.

None of us live downtown. We all rent apartments elsewhere in Providence, along with off-street parking. We only park on the street in Downcity, while we are hard at work, admittedly well into the small hours of the morning. When we park on the street, we plan on driving home later that night. But still we get tickets.

Take one example. A few weeks ago, three men were shot outside the 7-11 on Weybosset St., right by our studio. This was a tragic, frightening incident in its own right. The victims were taken to the hospital; as far as I know, none were in critical condition.

But it also illustrates safety problems, and I think that it speaks equally well to the absurdity of the parking regulations. We were trapped in our building, first by a police barricade, then by our own concerns. I could not move my car from the street into a privately-owned lot, as I usually do, and when I finally left for home at 4 am, a great big orange parking ticket taunted me from the windshield.

We late-night workers are caught between a series of nasty alternatives.

Public transport and school shuttles close down too early for us, meaning that we must find our own way home when we finish for the night. Walking brings unacceptable safety risks.

Carpooling in and out of downtown seems like the perfect solution - we can park cars on brightly-lit streets, often within view of our building's front door - but with the steepened enforcement of the parking ban, we can count on tickets every night. Instead we must park in dim private lots, risking towing, break-ins, and assaults.

Blind enforcement of Providence's overnight parking regulation strikes me as absurd, and a threat to my safety and that of my colleagues.

So what hope is there? Overnight parking is a contentious issue, much discussed in this city. But ours is an unusual case, since we are not parking in a residential area, and since we are essentially working the night shift while parked on the street.

This isn't a quality-of-life issue: there are no residents on most downtown streets. Access for emergency vehicles isn't a problem: our five-lane-wide stretch of Weybosset St. could accomodate three fire engines travelling abreast, even with cars parked on both sides.

But for us, it *is* a safety issue. Every time one of us walks to a dark, deserted lot where she's parked her car - or worse, when she has to walk home - she faces the threats of car break-ins, muggings, and attacks. One of our grads was severely beaten last year while walking home, and that triple shooting on our street hardly reassures me about our well-being late at night.

I'm planning to write my city councilman. Do I stand a chance of differentiating our situation from the other, more contentious, overnight parking questions?

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You're probably fighting an uphill battle on this one. With the influx of lofts downtown which will have expensive optional parking - you'll have both residents now and also I doubt they'll want all those loft goers skipping the expensive parking garages if they get the option to pack downtown overnight with their cars for free.

That said, I do think the ban is a horrible city policy if not down right discrimentory. Who supports this ban? The middle and upper middle class who can afford homes/apartments with parking so its not an issue to them. My guess is landlords don't mind it either. Off street parking in Providence is the equivalent of living near a T stop in Boston, it automatically raises the rent regardless of what the apartment is like.. If the ban was dropped and we had nieghborhood parking stickers or something akin, then the apartments with off street parking would loose their commodity status.

My apartment had no parking and I just took the tickets in bitter defiance. Probably not the best solution since eventually the city hunted me down when I had over $2000 in unpaid tickets and I had to goto court to get my car back. Aparently I was on a list (which they showed me) and they said they had been looking for me for a while - which I found odd - the officers who ticketed me everynight had no problems finding me -but apparantly you get ticketed overnight and siezed during the day - and I was never around during the day.

Luckily the judge was very nice to me. And even luckier the cameras to Caught in Providence weren't on........

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Several years ago the city took a poll/vote ( I forget ) of city residents to see whether or not to do away with overnight parking after 1am and it was surprisingly turned down which shocked the hell outta me. Not having cars parked on the street means that the street sweepers can do their jobs and the police can find stolen cars more easily. The street sweepers are downtown every night between 4-6am

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I'm planning to write my city councilman. Do I stand a chance of differentiating our situation from the other, more contentious, overnight parking questions?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I think you should certainly write your councilman about this situation. A letter to Chief Esserman wouldn't hurt either.

I doubt they'll want all those loft goers skipping the expensive parking garages if they get the option to pack downtown overnight with their cars for free....

...Off street parking in Providence is the equivalent of living near a T stop in Boston, it automatically raises the rent regardless of what the apartment is like..  If the ban was dropped and we had nieghborhood parking stickers or something akin, then the apartments with off street parking would loose their commodity status.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I don't think we'd see the demand for off-street parking drop. Even if it were legal to park overnight on-street, you still have the hassle of finding a spot. Hopefully, we'll soon have a city filled with shoppers into the early evening, when people are heading home from work, all the spots would be filled by shoppers. Then you'd be wanting that private space. Also a car is much safer from damage inside a garage than parked on the street.

Not having cars parked on the street means that the street sweepers can do their jobs and the police can find stolen cars more easily. The street sweepers are downtown ever night between 4-6am

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Opposite side parking rules, works in Boston, works in New York. There is no excuse the city of Providence can give not to allow overnight parking, it's simply ridiculous.

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