Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Parking permitted

A petition is circulating Fort Hill to institute Resident Parking Permits in the neighborhood.

How can an objection be phrased delicately? The city is no place for cars. As global warming and the obesity epidemic increase, it may be the planet is no place for cars.

That said, there is nothing like driving in a convertible, top down, on an American road at twilight in the Autumn. Red, orange, and pink smears trail the setting sun. The air glows with a nearly supernatural golden light, the breeze unfurls dulcet. It’s not the same experience on a bicycle – you’re too engaged in the activity and it’s not the same sitting on your front porch. Gliding through that golden air, the sky wide open above you in an automobile can be a taste of heaven.

There’s also nothing like a car when you’ve got a 10 pound bag of potatoes or free, seven foot tall bookcase from Craigslist to schlep home. Even better to schlep home that bookcase is a pick-up truck, my latest vehicular love. The last car I owned was a truck and I can’t wait to do it again. But home ownership beckoned and it was either home or vehicle, both were not an option. Home won.

Though there’ll be housing market downturns, housing, especially in Boston, is a good long-term investment. A vehicle begins depreciating the moment you drive it off the lot. Everyone needs a place to live.

Parking in many areas of Boston, even with a resident parking permit, isn’t easy. On Symphony Road, near Symphony Hall, it often meant circling the block several times or, more often, parking several blocks from the house. After unloading the potatoes, of course. Dinner parties were infrequent as were family gatherings because how do you invite your elderly aunt to your house and then tell her the only place she can park is in the garage 2 blocks away for $25.00?

Not currently owning a car, I rent or Zipcar. Generous friends lend me their cars when they’re out of town. I commute self-propelled, walking or biking, or riding the T when the snow’s too high or the rain’s too thick. After years on Symphony Road and in Mission Hill and JP, I appreciate how difficult finding a parking spot in dense urban areas can be. It’s currently really difficult on Juniper Street for a variety of reasons, not to be addressed here. Depending on the time of day and who’s got what guests, parking in front of my house is only sometimes an option. Walking around the corner if that’s the closest place I can park is ok. I can still park. If the street becomes resident permit only, where will I park my Zipcar or my rental? Where will my dinner guests from the ‘burbs and my elderly aunt park?

The push for Resident Parking Permits in Fort Hill stems, in part, from the congestion created by Roxbury Community College students who park on Elmwood, Gardner, Roxbury and Centre Streets rather than in the RCC lot. Most of that lot remains empty while students park to avoid a longer walk to classrooms. (Has anyone mentioned the obesity epidemic?) Has RCC been pressed to take measures to enforce student parking in the lot? That is one place to begin to address parking issues in this neighborhood.

Beyond that, Resident Permit Parking isn’t a bad idea but the Boston system is so antisocial. Residents get permits, their visitors vie for the impossible to find two hour Visitor Parking spots. Somerville residents are at least allowed 2 visitor passes from City Hall so guests can park anywhere on the street. Two passes makes for a small dinner party but it’s better than eating alone while your guests circle the neighborhood.

(Added 27 Jan 10: I stand corrected. A big part of the parking problem is commuters driving in to the neighborhood, parking, and walking the short distance to the Roxbury Crossing T stop. Still not sure about a solution. Permit parking only from 9 - 5? That doesn't curb the RCC overflow which I still maintain is part of the problem, though maybe more so at night. Two years have passed with no resolution. It can't be that bad or residents would be howling.)


  1. The push for Resident Parking Permits in Fort Hill stems, in part, from the congestion created by Roxbury Community College students who park on Elmwood, Gardner, Roxbury and Centre Streets rather than in the RCC lot.

    I'm a little late to this post, having first found your blog via www.universalhub.com.

    The parking congestion on the streets named is due more to commuters parking and walking to the Roxbury Crossing T station than to RCC students. The parking congestion is now creeping up Linwood Street and stretches the length of Centre Street between Eliot and Jackson Squares.

    Some of the commuters have taken to removing or vandalizing the alternate-side street cleaning signs.

  2. Better late than never. Thanks for the clarification as far as commuters driving in to park closer to the T. The same problem exists in JP near the Stonybrook stop. What's a possible creative solution? I'd go for parking permits if the system was revamped.