Is There a Parking Problem in Somerville?

Do you have trouble finding a parking space? What would you do to improve parking in the city?

How would you grade the parking situation in Somerville?

Some residents and businesses along Beacon Street are opposed to a plan to reconstruct the roadway that would eliminate parking on one side of the street, saying it would lead to a parking pinch that would hurt business and significantly inconvenience residents. The plan would add cycle tracks to Beacon Street, and some think there's room for both. "There is plenty of parking for everyone on Beacon Street with a cycle track—but the parking that's there has to be properly managed," one commenter, Mark, wrote on Somerville Patch.

But another commenter said a parking squeeze in Somerville forced him and his family out of the city.

"Because my wife got squeezed out of parking options, we had to move away," wrote JohnR.

We want to know: Have you encountered parking problems in Somerville? How does it compare to Cambridge, Boston, Brookline or other nearby communities? How should the city balance driving and parking with other transportation options, like biking, buses and, perhaps one day, the Green Line?

Elizabeth Rose November 14, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Yes, of course there is a parking problem. me to new neighbors - 'hi, nice to meet you. Do you have a car?' neighbor, 'we have two cars'. me, 'ok, i hate you.'
noreen headle November 14, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Parking in Somerville is a joke. I live in east somerville and there are literally 2 unmetered spaces on my side of the street and 2 on the other side.Two!! that's for all the residents who aren;t blessed with a driveway/parking. And from what I understand with this new *revitalizing* of East Somerville, the two on my side are going! Of course, there is parking down the side streets. Just don't do it in the dark or you take your life in your hands. And heaven forbid family want to visit more than two days in a week on your guest pass, Somerville has forgotten about the people who live and grew up here and haven't left. They cater now to the college kids with no cars, the bicyclists. Sad.
LSG November 14, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Parking has been better in my neighborhood since the city implemented permit parking only, but it is by no means good, especially on street-sweeping days. In particular, there seem to be not enough disabled parking spots in many of the commercial areas - even those areas in which there are a lot of doctors' offices - and near schools. Cambridge is about the same..
AHM November 14, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Parking is bad in Somerville. We are a joke to other towns about this. Having company like my son for a week is another joke with the permit situation. NO wonder we are laughed at. Broadway is brutal after the last upgrade when they took away many parking spots. I guess the new setup os to take away more. Smart. Just going to have more angry people. Empty bike racks taking up spaces too does not nelp much either. At least the ones on Broadway I see. Dumb.
Mary O'Neill November 14, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Parking has been a nightmare here since Som'l Ave was redone. Eliminated so many spaces that tenants, visitors, etc. now have to park a considerable distance away if they can find a spot at all. In the future when I have an apt vacancy, I won't rent to anyone with a car. And vice versa, potential tenants won't want to live where there is virtually no parking. What will this do to home values?
Rob Buchanan November 14, 2012 at 10:11 PM
I live off Union Square on what could be described, based on the above comments, a dark and dangerous street. Only once in over two years have I been unable to find a spot and that was during a snow emergency when I came home around 10:30 p.m. While I agree parking in an urban area can be a hassle, I do not think Somerville is much different from other urban areas like Cambridge, Brookline, Brighton, Charlestown, etc. Car ownership rates in Somerville are some of the lowest in the state at 1.1 vehicles per household. Massachusetts has more than one motor vehicle for every licensed driver, two vehicles for every household, and 1.5 vehicles for every job in the state. The overall increase in vehicle miles traveled due to rising automobile ownership rates contributes to congestion, and air, noise and water pollution. So I'm cool with putting the squeeze on parking. Last I checked, Somerville property values have remained relatively stable compared to suburban home values. People want to live here because of easy access to public transportation, which allows them to have one or fewer cars per household--and saves them $$$ in car payments, gas, insurance, repairs, etc. The people I talk to think Somerville is a pretty great place to live. If they're laughing, I think it's because they are jealous.
AHM November 14, 2012 at 11:32 PM
When you have elderly people visiting elderly people it is a reak hassle for them to have to go and get the permit plus if they can't park near where they have to go. My father on crutches picking up someone more disabled than him had a ticket by the time he was able to get back to his car with his friend. We are laughed at because people trying to visit friends, older people just to be nice here just hate to come here with the hassle of parking. Not everyone is so ablebodied and quick. Street cleaning is another one for those of us not so ablebodied also and snow. And many people in Somerville rent out with no parking for the tenant, there are quite a few of these I know of personally.
Jim Moses November 14, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Try living on a private street where you do not need a parkin permit!!! People park here early in the morning and get picked for work or jump on a bus cause they know they will not get a ticket
Lucas Rogers November 15, 2012 at 02:01 AM
There is almost always street parking on my residential street.
Charlie Denison November 15, 2012 at 03:07 AM
On-street parking in Somerville is much better than it is in Boston! The residential and visitor parking permit system works quite well in my experience. There are always open spaces on the street for me or my visitors. Because a Somerville permit allows you to park anywhere in the City, though, people who live closer to the squares or closer to T stations often have trouble finding parking on their streets since people from elsewhere in Somerville drive and park there when commuting or visiting the nearby businesses. Once the Green Line comes, this should be less of a problem since more people will have better transit access and will be able to walk to a rapid transit line close to where they live. One thing I wish the City would do is to charge more for parking. $30 a year for a residential permit is a steal! Off-street parking in my neighborhood goes for $100 a month! There are many people who live in Somerville and do not own cars or who pay for off-street parking. Why should they be subsidizing cheap on-street parking for their car-owning neighbors? I've seen in some cities where they actually charge more for a residential permit if you have off-street parking available. They also charge more for a second car than for a first car. This is a good way to prioritize on-street parking for people who don't have driveways and to provide an incentive to only have one car rather than two.
LSG November 15, 2012 at 12:23 PM
That would be okay for people who have the money as long as there was an abatement program or sliding scale for people who don't. Remember that people with cars also pay city excise tax, so really, car owners do pay quite a bit between the parking permit and that (not to mention the occasional fifty dollar ticket).
grover November 15, 2012 at 01:15 PM
charlie a steal? you must not pay property taxes!!!! they should be free and was $10 when I bought here.. and I cant put in a drive way because of a historic tree in front of my property...
tim donovan November 15, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I moved out of Somerville because of the parking tixs. The last straw for me was when the street cleaning went to 2 pm. I was able to come home for lunch at noon before..... not any more. Medford is better for parking.
Charlie Denison November 15, 2012 at 01:37 PM
grover, in your case you should be able to get on-street permit at the cheapest rate since you do not have a driveway. But I definitely don't think it should be free. Why should we be able to store private property on public land for nothing?
LSG November 15, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Again, car owners are paying excise and numerous other taxes for the privilege of using the public roads for travel and parking. The use of private transportation for those who cannot be served by public transportation is also necessary to the economic health of the community. Finally, parking on public streets has been around longer than cars have been around.
Kamella Zimmerman November 15, 2012 at 02:20 PM
I live right near Davis Square and although my street is permit parking only, it's still a problem for those of us that live on that street. Being so close to Davis and the T we have people from all over Somerville with Somerville parking permits coming in and parking on our street to then going to the T or to eat in Davis Square. It leaves no spaces available for residents of the street. What's worse is people who take up two spaces. There are some curbs that two cars easily fit in (and those of us who live on the street know that). If a couple lines could be painted on those curb areas to let people know that more than one car can fit there, that would help a little.
Donal Waide November 15, 2012 at 03:19 PM
We live in one of the most densely populated cities east of the Mississippi, with a huge population of students and visitors. Somerville's location in proximity to the MBTA stops makes non permit streets a target for the out of towners to park for the day. We will always have traffic issues so deal with it. Some ways to potentially alleviate this have been put in, such as making more streets permit parking, especially those near a MBTA connection. In response to some of the people who have already posted. 1. Those with driveways are already paying extra money in taxes, don't have them pay more for a permit 2. Renters not getting parking? It's stated in the rental ad usually, deal with it 3. To the elderly and hard of walking to get a permit. How about a permanent card in the car that says, " Getting a permit from my visitees home, will be five minutes" and mark it with the time. If you aren't seeing the enforcement officer on the street then perhaps you should consider handing in your license. 4. "store private property on public land for nothing": Charlie, we have to shovel our PUBLIC walkways when there's snow or face a ticket. I think that's a fair swap.
John A. November 15, 2012 at 03:39 PM
It is crazy in Union- never mind trying to visit my elderly aunt- and forget about bothering with businesses. If I could get her to the parking clerk to get me a visitor permit it might help- but why so difficult... It is called a parking garage- consider building one! They have them in cities!
Alicia Byrd November 15, 2012 at 03:45 PM
The bike rack near the post office on Broadway is dangerous, it sticks out farther than a car and makes it hard for the bus to get into the bus stop which in turn makes it hard to pull in at the post office. I have vertigo and am over 60, I cannot ride a regular bike and need my car to shop. My husband and daughter both work where there is no public transportation (off 128, and at the end of Innerbelt) so we need all 3 cars. The only time we have trouble parking here is during storms since our street floods, or snow freezes before we can clear our side which is the even side.
Benjamin Mako Hill November 15, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Parking can be difficult but has never been impossible for our household. For us, the issue was really street cleaning. And it's interesting, the bike and public transportation became good enough over the last few years that we simply weren't using the car enough to put up with the parking annoyances. So we just got rid of it. Our house sold the car, got a Zipcar membership, and started cycling at least some of the time and taking the T the rest. Although it took some adjusting, I think the outcome is cheaper for us, has improved our overall health, and has increased our quality of life. Not everybody can do this, but not everybody has to. I think that better cycling and mass transportation infrastructure is a promising way to address the parking issue -- even it means losing some parking in the long run.
noreen headle November 15, 2012 at 03:47 PM
Wow, well I can most of us are in agreement. And Rob, I don't know about the dark streets in Union Square. I can however, tell you walking at 11 at night on Pearl, Bonnair, Cross or any streets in that area is dangerous if you are female and alone. All you need to do is read the somerville Police line to know that fact. Charlie, if permit parking works for you, you must be lucky enough to have a driveway. Everyone in my area has to park in the supermarket parking lot on street cleaning day. I don't live in a popular *square area* like union or davis or porter. I used to..for 55 years until I got priced in rents and had to come to East Somerville. Parking is just as bad here if not worse because it's all metered parking on broadway with the exception of 4 permit or 2 hour parking only spots. I don't care about the parking situation in Boston, or Charlestown. I don't live there. I live here and have for my entire life. And by the way, parking in Charlestown is bad because it is merely one square mile. That's it. All those people crammed into a square mile. But take stroll through and you will be hard pressed to find metered spots. It's all resident..unlike Somerville
Benjamin Mako Hill November 15, 2012 at 03:50 PM
If they haven't, folks interested in this issue should read, UCLA Professor's Donald Shoup, "The High Cost of Free Parking." Parking is enormously expensive. You can tell by the high prices of market-rate parking. Our taxes are subsidizing parking at enormous rates. The taxes and fees LSG discusses reflect only a tiny fraction of this.
Eugene Torkelstein November 15, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Somerville is more densely population than Charlestown actually. We have about 18,000 people per square mile in the Ville vs. 16,000 in Charlestown.
Courtney O'Keefe November 15, 2012 at 07:56 PM
The root of one problem lies with people who have driveways, but don't want to deal with a tandem parking situation, so one car goes on the street and one goes into the driveway that can really fit two. I would prefer Somerville residents park on sidestreets when frequenting businesses out of walking distance as it leaves metered/lot parking spaces available for non-residents. Then again, I really encourage all residents to either walk or cycle, but not everyone can do that. Please do not encourage an increase in price. It seems that car and property owners are footing the bill for the entire budget and new revenue streams need to be conceptualized before old ones are strained even more.
Lucas Rogers November 15, 2012 at 08:40 PM
It sounds to me that a lot of the problems that people are talking about come from the fact that resident parking is not zoned, meaning that people who don't live in business areas use their stickers to park in them. Zoning seems like a good solution, and one that Boston follows. I live far from a Square, and I have never not been able to get a spot on my street. On-street parking where I live in Somerville is heaven compared to Beacon Hill, where I used to live.
Warren Dew November 15, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Eliminating parking spaces is stupid. Eliminate parking spaces and you will eliminate the affluent taxpayers who need a car for commuting, and replace them with slum lords. Want Somerville to become a slum in 20 years or so? This is the way to do it.
Warren Dew November 15, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Somerville property values have remained "stable" only in nominal terms. Adjusted for inflation, they have dropped 20%-30% since 2000.
Alex November 20, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Warren, many people like me moved to Somerville from the burbs so that we could sell our cars and walk to stores and bike to work. We think that the $9,500 per car per year cost of ownership is better spent on shopping at local businesses. As an educated professional with a healthy salary, I find your comment misinformed and insulting. Bicyclists and walkers have more money to spend because we throw away less money on gas, insurance, and depreciation. Yet we still pay the income and sales taxes that fund the 200-square-foot on-street parking spaces that old Somervillians seem to think are free and a god-given right. How does $150 per month for a market rate parking space sound to you? NYC, where 2/3 of residents don't own cars, was not a slum the last time I checked. I agree with the posters who point out that too many residents are using streets near T stations or near Harvard Univ as a parking lot because the permit parking system has no zoning, and because many businesses outside the squares don't have any meters or time limits. This would a simple fix to better use the existing parking that we have.


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