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Parking in Somerville: Patch Readers Split on Issue

Readers had some interesting ideas about how to improve what some think is a parking pinch.

On Wednesday we asked Somerville Patch readers, "Is there a parking problem in Somerville?"

Readers had different thoughts about the matter, though slightly more readers indicated there is a parking problem. 

Yes, there is a parking problem

One reader, Elizabeth Rose, summed it up by writing, "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.'"

(By the way, some responses here have been lightly edited.)

Noreen Headle agreed, saying, "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."

Tim Donovan said he moved out of Somerville due to the parking tickets, and John A wrote: "It is called a parking garage—consider building one! They have them in cities!"

No, there isn't a problem

Others thought parking in Somerville is no worse than in other cities.

Rob Buchanan wrote, "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 ... 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."

Another commenter, Charlie Denison, wrote, "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."

"Our house sold the car, got a Zipcar membership, and started cycling at least some of the time and taking the T the rest," wrote Benjamin Mako Hill. "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."

It's the permits

One issue voiced by readers is that of residential permits. A Somerville parking permit allows residents to park anywhere in the city, and that, it seems, causes a parking crunch in some areas.

Kamella Zimm summed it up: "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."

Charlie Denison had some interesting ideas about changing permit restrictions, and charging more for them.

"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!" he wrote.

"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."

Jason November 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM
How about a neighbor that has three cars and WILL NOT USE HIS OWN DRIVEWAY! Yep, that's what we have over here. It is amazing the attitude He throws as well. Likes its his rite. I would get salty about him, but it would do no good.
grover November 18, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Jason that was a couple of my neighbors too
O November 18, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I agree Jason & Grover we have that problem here on Josephine Avenue one house has 6 cars and noone in their 3 car driveway another 3 cars and same issue. I think it's rude and inconciderate to their neighbors that don't have access to the driveways
jason sarajevo November 18, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Parking availability also changes every few hundred feet. Certain sectors where the houses have only cars that fit in their driveways is a situation that obviously leads to more on-street availability. But six houses away might set a triple-decker with 5 cars + visitors, which leads me to agree with the point that Charlie Denison makes in the article. Additional stickers and visitor passes should be incrementally more expensive. I live in a one-car house with no driveway, but two on-street parking spaces. But often, the two spots are taken by residents from or visitors to a house a significant distance away. Mr. Denison's ideas could make an positive impact on that problem. The city also needs to address the issue of residents ditching their cars around Davis Square while they take the Red Line to work. Whoever is the next Ward 5 Alderman needs to start thinking ahead about ways to prevent residents from dumping their cars near the Lowell and Ball Square Green Line stations as well.
Jason November 18, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Jason Sarajevo, do you rent or own? The parking passes in somerville are VERY expensive. This past year we paid for two resident permits and two VP. Total $80 busk USD. Whiskey tango foxtrot. What's it take...we pay some real taxes here too. This fee was not nearly as high a year ago. Add to this situation a young family, on street cleaning day, parking 2 blocks away because you cannot park anywhere near your home.. Your point about the green line parking, no kidding, Talk about a PITA.
Joe Lynch November 19, 2012 at 07:00 PM
You're not alone Jason. My neighborhood has them too. The sense of entitlement is simply mind-boggling. TS for everyone else. But listening to them talk and blog, they're doing nothing wrong. It's their right.............yikes.
Courtney O'Keefe November 19, 2012 at 09:04 PM
So, what's the proposal? Should those who have a driveway get an incentive to use it or a penalty for not using it? When you think about it, if everyone (driveway or not) is expected to have a current residential parking permit, everyone should be able to use it to park on a residential street, right?
jason sarajevo November 19, 2012 at 10:49 PM
If I had a driveway, or access to one, I would NEVER park on the street simply as a courtesy to others, even though I have the legal right to. (I happen to own a house with no driveway.) Courtney, I believe you are incorrect. Nobody is required to buy a residential parking permit. You only buy them if you want to park on a Somerville street. Now that Somerville Excise Tax is a different story. All car owners get that bill, even if their car is hidden in a garage.
Courtney O'Keefe November 19, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Who said anything about requirements? It is expected, but they can't enforce it unless you park illegally. My point (clearly ignored by jason sarajevo) is that if a driveway-blessed, current permit holder wants to park on the street they can. How do we get them to use their driveways? Incentive or penalty?
jason sarajevo November 19, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Sorry for any misunderstanding Courtney. I guess I was the one who brought up requirements. I didn't know that I was restricted only to thoughts previously mentioned. And I did not mean to NOT comment completely on your question, so here's a stab at that. I would say definitely not "penalty" as anyone who has both purchased a parking permit and paid their excise tax has every right to park on the street. I would lean toward education and gentle persuasion. My guess is that many (but not all) driveway people might not realize that they are not being as considerate as they could be. I also see a similar problem on the eves of street cleaning day when everyone attempts to park on the other side the night before to avoid that $50 surprise. It is a bit frustrating to see driveway people out on the street on those evenings.
Joe Lynch January 18, 2013 at 08:27 PM
JASON - believe it or not, there are folks in this city who are just plain nuts. they think it is their right to a parking space in front of their home, whether private way or public street, regardless of the fact that they have a driveway which goes unused. Do as I say, not as I do seems to be their mantra.
AHM January 18, 2013 at 09:22 PM
Have to agree with some thinking they own the spot in front of their house. I see that a lot. I also think that we have public streets here and the whole idea of special parking permits is absurd. Street cleaning here is overkill. Some of us still clean around the street and watch for the leaves around the sewers. We pick up the little outside every day. Okay, now you can yell at me.

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