Boston city councilors are looking to start charging for residential parking stickers, saying that the current parking system is broken because the city currently issues many more parking stickers than actual spaces.
Councilor at-large, Michelle Wu, expressed frustration over the unlimited residential parking stickers the city hands out despite the fact that several neighbors have limited parking. Currently, a resident seeking a sticker does not have to pay but just prove their residency and that their vehicle is registered to City Hall.
“We want to improve the day to day experience,” said Wu at a Committee on Planning, Development and Transportation hearing yesterday.
According to Chris Osgood, chief of streets, transportation, and sanitation, 240,000 cars are registered in the city and the city has given out more than 100,000 residential stickers.
Osgood said the city gets a “tremendous amount of complaints” about non-residents parking in residential areas through the 311 system and the city issues about 190,000 tickets every year on the issue.
Liveable Streets Community Engagement Manager Andrew McFarland suggests the city put a cap on the number of residential parking stickers it hands out.
“Curb space is one of the most valuable resources we have,” he said. “It is not reflected in the way we manage it. We give out more permits than there are available spots.”
McFarland says it is estimated that there are about 1,500 parking spaces in the North End but there are 4,000 permits issued. He said about 30 percent of traffic in the city is from drivers circling around trying to find a spot to park. He also mentioned that people are selling their residential parking stickers on Craigslist, which means that person is most likely parking in a street parking spot and that defeats the purpose of the system.
He also said the city needs to do a census to find out how many parking spots there are in the city.
City Councilor Josh Zakim believes there needs to be more enforcement when people do not follow parking regulations. The council just approved this month an increase in fines for residential parking violators from $40 to $60. It goes into effect Monday.
Officials have said parking stickers could cost anywhere from $25 to $100 a year and the fee would increase if a resident has more than one vehicle.
“This money could go to help for some much needed infrastructure improvements,” said Wu.
Wu said these talks are the very beginning of the process and developing a good parking system is going to take time.