Thursday, June 16, 2011

Parking and more parking

My wife takes the commuter rail to Boston every day. She came home with this notice yesterday:

Well that's quite a jump!
Apparently the current 1$ fine for not paying when you leave your car in the morning isn't good enough, so the company that runs the parking lot at Salem Station has decided to increase it by 2,100% That's quite a jump! They are probably right. I can't count the number of times I've been in to her car on the weekend and seen as many as three or four of the little "you forgot to pay" envelopes. Rest assured, at $21 a pop that will no longer be happening, mark my words.

What really scares me about this change, beyond her tendency to forget the number of the space she parked in, is what the city will use this to justify. Back in 2008, when the MBTA raised the price of parking from $2 to $4, the city parking board very quickly voted to follow suit, on the grounds that having different rates in the "same" lot would cause confusion. For some reason, the changes were never implemented. (The Downtown Parking Plan may rectify that.)

Do these look like one lot to you?

View Larger Map

Of course there are two distinct lots here. Even from this view you can see that they also are in different conditions. The MBTA lot is in much better shape, all of the spots have clearly painted lines, and the MBTA lot doesn't flood. It's also closer to the train platform. Also making the "confusion" argument look silly is the fact that you pay for parking in this "same" lot in two different places, depending on which of the "same" lot you park in. Call a cash grab a cash grab.

Using the city's logic at  the time, they should have lowered the fee for not paying from the $10 parking ticket that they issue to the $1 fee that the MBTA charges. Funny how that "confusion" logic doesn't carry over right?

I'm just waiting for them to announce that they're raising the ticket to $21, or better yet, following the 2,100% and raising it to $210. Won't that be fun? Wouldn't want to confuse anyone.


In other parking news, the city council (I'm assuming as the committee of the whole, but can't tell due to inadequate reporting) made some rather important amendments that kinda destroy the good parts of the comprehensive parking plan for the downtown. The reason that you have a committee made of many stakeholders study this and come up with these plans is so that you aren't stuck dealing with councilors caving to loud special interests.

So what has changed?

I wrote, in my previous post on the details of the parking plan: "First one's free. Annually, your first parking ticket will be forgiven. Somehow I bet they strike this one."

Consider it struck.

I also wrote: 

Enforcement hours until 8 PM. OK, so really this is a money grab, but it's a money grab that I like. Let's use the lots at Lafayette and New Derby as an example. It's 5:30 at night, and you're on your way to a friend's house. You want to pop into Pamplemousse to grab a bottle of wine, or you're feeling klassier and want to run into the Beehive for a whoopie cushion. These lots are your closest, best bet for a parking spot for ten minutes. There's only one problem. It's now 5:30. Nearly every spot in these two lots has been gobbled up by a Derby Lofter, and won't be made available again until they leave for work at 7:45 in the morning. Yes, even though they have passes to the garage down the street, they choose to park here because it's free after 5 and it's about 300 feet closer. What should happen here is that one of these lots, maybe the one that exits onto Lafayette only, should be short term, maybe half 30 minute and half hour spaces. Heck, charge a buck an hour for them. People who need to get in and out to patronize a business will pay it to have the space. Alas, we'll get to the actual plan in "the bad" Enforcement till 8 PM will help keep spots open for people patronizing businesses, and push residents to the permit garages, where they make the most sense.

Normally sane councilor Lovely has lost her mind on this one. Downtown residents parking in the metered spots/lots IS the downtown parking "problem." If you're not coming back for your car until the next day it belongs outside of the retail lots, off the streets, and in a garage. Councilor Lovely proposed changing the enforcement until 6 PM. So here is what will happen. Derby Lofter comes home at 5. Pays for the meter till 6, and parks there until 7:45 in the morning. Same problem as before. Downtown shoppers and diners get screwed. The stores have no incentive to stay open later. Joan, you asked "Who are we trying to turn over? Why are we going to 8 p.m.?" It's to avoid downtown residents clogging all of the meters. If they had to come back out at 7 to feed them, they'd just park in the garages in the first place. I thought you were smarter than this. I also must assume that you have never tried to park downtown on a Thursday through Saturday night, or on a Sunday, since they struck that enforcement for the entire day.

As for your ability to always find a parking spot, Councilor Lovely, didn't you park in the private, customer-only lot at Captain Dusty's to come to the HDSNA meeting on Monday? I think that's what I heard you say when you were leaving.

Downtown business owners should really let the city council hear it about these changes. Interestingly, they didn't amend any of the things I listed as bad, or ugly, in my previous post on the parking plan. They stuck to only ruining "the good." You know, unless it wasn't reported.

NEWSFLASH re: snow emergencies to the Derby Lofts crew: When all cars have to be off all streets the garage is going to be full. Why didn't you think of that before you bought your overpriced condo with no on-site parking? Derby Lofters continue to be whiny morons.


  1. Derby Lofts are perfect for people who live and work and town and who like to walk. Otherwise, it just seems like a miserable situation if you have a car, especially in winter. The $1 to $21 jump is f-ing insane-o. My hubby walks to the train most days, even in winter, but will drive once in awhile. He used to work the 11-8 shift and never bothered to pay for parking because the lot guy never checked for payment after 9:30. I guess those days are over.

  2. time to get a new bike... they don't charge me to lock that up there...


    also, I've used the iphone app to pay (parkmobile) and it's great...
    I never had $4 on me, so I'd always take the surcharge (or sometimes not get ticketed)... It was like the lottery of free parking and I won 99% of the time (the lot checking guy only came at 930. I was normally there at 945 as he was rolling out in his LAZ Parking truck... so I wouldn't pay and wouldn't have to worry about it... or risk the $1 surcharge
    $21? not a slot machine I wanna play.


Don't forget, keep it klassy!