A handicap ramp on the North St. sidewalk, at the corner of Commercial St., outside the real estate company office (former home of Sarni Cleaners) has been a gold-mine for the city and towing truck operators for quite some time.

The ramp is not at a crosswalk. One was there years ago. The ramp is hard to see, and since there is another ramp, at a crosswalk, just a few yards away, no driver with normal intelligence would think there might be a second ramp going out to the street, with no crosswalk.

Thus,  unknowing drivers would park at the near invisible ramp, and at 7:30 each morning the tow truck would show up, and tow the car away. Folks in the neighborhood could set their clocks on the tow truck’s arrival.

Of course, if the city diligently towed every car illegally parked in the North End, we could cut real estate taxes in half.  But that’s another story.

Evidently, the  North St. handicap ramp offered the easiest, fastest towing target in the neighborhood, and no car owner would be out at 7:30 hollering and shouting and uttering unpleasantries about the city, perhaps some of them true, but which children waiting for the school bus on the corner shouldn’t hear.

As  I say, this stealth towing has been going on for some time.  But suddenly, on Dec 5, city workers showed up, drilled a hole in the sidewalk, erected a sign post, and attached a sign  “Tow Zone — Cab Stand” with an arrow pointing to the handicap ramp  space. And a similar sign was attached to an existing lamp-post, at the other end of the space.

So the handicap ramp is now a Cab Stand.

Parking spot turned Cab Stand on North St.

Here’s my theory:  The ever-vigilant tow truck operators towed away the wrong car, one belonging to a citizen well-connected to city hall, a person who raised hell with the right people.  Why should he pay a $100 fine and pay towing costs when nobody can see there’s a ramp at the spot?

Ahhhh, as we all know, when a connected citizen squawks, the politicians wake up. It’s the Third  Law of Legislation: “The speed of city or state corrective action is in direct relation to the importance of the guy whose bull was gored.”

So what can the city do in the North St. situation?  It could, of course, dig up the sidewalk, repave it, and eliminate the unnecessary handicap ramp, and, in doing so, create a new legal parking space.  But  that’s a major job, involving contractors, a traffic cop for a couple weeks while work is  going on,  and a  return of the crew a few weeks later when it was discovered they filled in the wrong ramp. You know the scenario.

A much simpler solution was the Cab Stand. Brilliant!  A day’s work, and the problem was solved.

Of course, chances of finding  a cab parked there,  with a driver inside waiting for a fare, are about the same as  hitting Megabucks. (I’m  sure Valet Parking guys will be using it, like they use the Harris St. sidewalk, never towed, never ticketed.  But, as I say, that’s another story.)

So drivers have absolutely no excuse if they park at that space. It’s clearly marked with those two new signs.  But if they do park there, they can look at the bright side. Parking in a taxi stand carries only a $50 fine, half that of parking in a handicap ramp. (See the fine schedule below.)  Towing costs are the same, though. Maybe.

Bob Skole

City of Boston Parking Ticket Fine Schedule

Current 12/18/09

VIOLATION FINE
AMOUNT
LATE
PENALTY
No Parking $55 $18
No Parking (Zone B) $25 $8
Meter Fee Unpaid $25 $8
No Stopping or Standing $75 $25
Double Parking (Zone A) $45 $15
Double Parking (Zone B) $30 $10
Loading Zone $55 $18
Within 20ft of Intersection $40 $13
Bus Stop/Stand $100 $33
Taxi Stand $50 $16
Hydrant $100 $33
Crosswalk $85 $28
Resident Permit Only $40 $13
Street Cleaning $40 $13
Less Than 10ft Fire Lane $100 $33
Sidewalk $65 $21
Not in Meter Space $25 $8
Weather Emergency $45 $15
Over Meter Limit $25 $8
Over 1 Foot from Curb $35 $11
HP-DV Parking Only $120 $40
Handicap Ramp $100 $33
Driveway $25 $8
Over Posted Limit $25 $8
Over Posted Limit (Zone B) $25 $8
Other $15 $5
Island/Center Strip $40 $13
Overnight Commercial $65 $21
Expired/No Valid Plate $40 $13
Expired Inspection $40 $13
Overnight Heavy Vehicle $100 $33
Bike Lane $100 $33
No Valid RPP $100 $33
Pedestrian Zone $100 $33
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3 COMMENTS

  1. This is one of thoses situations where lots of pictures should be taken ( of no cabs and valet parked cars) and prints brought to the next public safety meeting for a little show and tell with Capt O'Rourke

  2. My car was towed from here on 11/30. Currently appealing, the $100 ticket. Thanks for this. I'll let you know how it goes…

  3. Should have been HP ramp signs put up there; wrong sign code was entered into the system….should be corrected today or tomorrow …..

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