Is parking too cheap?

Ruairi

Active Member
Joined
Jun 17, 2014
Messages
461
Reaction score
376
They've just put in new protected bike lanes on mass ave between central and harvard, taking all the parking off one side of the street.
I love to see it, these streets are meant for moving people around cities.
I often cycle on prospect st from central to union and I cant really fathom how there is still street parking and no bike lanes on this street.
What did those car owners do to deserve to leave their cars there all day?
I'm a bit more open to street parking on smaller residential side streets but clogging up busy routes with parked cars is a nonsense.
I'm not sure how Boston works but in Somerville you can park anywhere in the city with your permit, knock that on the head straight away.
Your permit should entitle you to park on the same streets a guest permit allows.
I'd also charge $100 a month for a permit + 2 guest permits but no one would vote for that!
 

donkeybutlers

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
144
Reaction score
177
My sister lives in Jamaica Plain, and a lot of the places around her don't have driveways or garages; it's not going to go over well if the government's policy is, sorry, if you want to live in this place you can't have a car because there's literally no place to park it (until someone comes along and builds a private garage to gouge locals, anyway).
JP is a dense urban neighborhood, like in many of those places many if not most people walk, bike or take transit to local shops already. There are also several public lots on Centre and there are a few private ones for customers of specific businesses (but often rarely enforced as such) in the back behind stores. Washington St is also very dense and still has several private lots for businesses. Even if these streets took away parking (even just on one side) to actually became safe to bike on (they currently are not by any means) and/or speed up the traffic logged 39 there would still be plenty of parking options, most of them free.
 

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
244
Reaction score
338
JP is a dense urban neighborhood, like in many of those places many if not most people walk, bike or take transit to local shops already. There are also several public lots on Centre and there are a few private ones for customers of specific businesses (but often rarely enforced as such) in the back behind stores. Washington St is also very dense and still has several private lots for businesses. Even if these streets took away parking (even just on one side) to actually became safe to bike on (they currently are not by any means) and/or speed up the traffic logged 39 there would still be plenty of parking options, most of them free.
That's true, though it's less the main thoroughfares I'm thinking of (but they're the likeliest candidates for parking reduction/removal). I was mostly commenting that the prospect of taking away the street parking would likely be controversial. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea, just one that might have some speed bumps (pun intended) getting through the political process.
 

bigeman312

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
330
That's true, though it's less the main thoroughfares I'm thinking of (but they're the likeliest candidates for parking reduction/removal). I was mostly commenting that the prospect of taking away the street parking would likely be controversial. That doesn't mean it's a bad idea, just one that might have some speed bumps (pun intended) getting through the political process.
I know I am not the typical resident, but I have to chime in to provide a very different experience than your sister.

I am a JP homeowner. I have two off-street parking spaces and zero cars. I can not rent out the spaces, even for $20/month. They are wedged, so the total area of the spaces is 550 square feet. My street has free, unrestricted street parking that is never full so there is no reason for somebody to pay for parking. Therefore, the government giving away parking for free has caused my 550 square feet of land to sit as completely useless, vacant, paved asphalt. When I have a rental car or family/friends visiting, I always park on the street because parking is so plentiful and free.

A 550 square foot apartment in this neighborhood would easily rent for $1800/month or more and heck that same amount of land as a rentable plot in a garden would go for a pretty penny, too.

That likely doesn't provide a definitive answer to the overarching question "is parking too cheap," but it certainly answers the question "is my street in JP over-saturated with free unrestricted parking," with a resounding yes.

In a sane and responsive world, there would be some charge, anything, for parking. It could be $1 per year. Many would not jump through the hoop of registering their car in Massachusetts and purchasing a parking permit even if it was $1. Even if it was free! Then, see how full street parking is and if it's always less than 90% full, convert some of that low-use, low-desire space to higher use, such as a tree canopy, sidewalk bulb-outs, benches, etc.
 

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
244
Reaction score
338
I know I am not the typical resident, but I have to chime in to provide a very different experience than your sister.

I am a JP homeowner. I have two off-street parking spaces and zero cars. I can not rent out the spaces, even for $20/month. They are wedged, so the total area of the spaces is 550 square feet. My street has free, unrestricted street parking that is never full so there is no reason for somebody to pay for parking. Therefore, the government giving away parking for free has caused my 550 square feet of land to sit as completely useless, vacant, paved asphalt. When I have a rental car or family/friends visiting, I always park on the street because parking is so plentiful and free.

A 550 square foot apartment in this neighborhood would easily rent for $1800/month or more and heck that same amount of land as a rentable plot in a garden would go for a pretty penny, too.

That likely doesn't provide a definitive answer to the overarching question "is parking too cheap," but it certainly answers the question "is my street in JP over-saturated with free unrestricted parking," with a resounding yes.

In a sane and responsive world, there would be some charge, anything, for parking. It could be $1 per year. Many would not jump through the hoop of registering their car in Massachusetts and purchasing a parking permit even if it was $1. Even if it was free! Then, see how full street parking is and if it's always less than 90% full, convert some of that low-use, low-desire space to higher use, such as a tree canopy, sidewalk bulb-outs, benches, etc.
I'd call your situation a good example of the fact that few if any circumstances are universally applicable. The area in JP where my sister previously lived had very little off-street parking and high demand for on-street parking, so there was frequently a dearth of parking in that area. Where she lives in JP now still isn't rife with off-street parking (though there's more of it) but the density is lower and there is more availability in street parking.

I don't disagree that in some cases like the example you provided there is an overabundance of parking. I would mildly disagree that the availability of street parking is what keeps your area of land completely vacant and useless unless it is literally impossible to remove the parking spaces to enable its use for some other purpose. (If they must remain parking spaces for some reason, then I do agree their value is reduced to practically nothing, at least to you, by the overabundance of street parking.)

All that said, I entirely agree with you that parking is largely too cheap in many areas and could well be repurposed, though I reiterate my previous assertion that doing so would likely be politically controversial, especially among the car-owners.
 

bigeman312

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
330
I would mildly disagree that the availability of street parking is what keeps your area of land completely vacant and useless unless it is literally impossible to remove the parking spaces to enable its use for some other purpose.
I’ve tried everything I could with the HOA. Nope! Not happening. The parking spots can’t be converted to higher use because the condo trust requires unanimous approval for such a change and in six years and many different iterations of owners, I have not been able to garner unanimity. I would know, I’m chairman of the condo board and the property manager. Offered to pay, out of my own pocket, to professionally convert to shared patio with dissenting owner, which would greatly increase property value as we lack any other outdoor space. Heck, I just repainted the lines and numbers on parking spaces that I do not want.

It is not literally impossible, but I doubt you’re able solve this problem with a cursory glance at a comment on the Internet. If you can, you would be a godsend.

At the end of the day, people are irrational around many things, including parking. Go to many of the hearings surrounding developments in Boston and you will encounter many of these people.
 
Last edited:

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
244
Reaction score
338
I’ve tried everything I could with the HOA. Nope! Not happening. The parking spots can’t be converted to higher use because the condo trust requires unanimous approval for such a change and in six years and many different iterations of owners, I have not been able to garner unanimity. I would know, I’m chairman of the condo board and the property manager. Offered to pay, out of my own pocket, to professionally convert to shared patio with dissenting owner, which would greatly increase property value as we lack any other outdoor space. Heck, I just repainted the lines and numbers on parking spaces that I do not want.

It is not literally impossible, but I doubt you’re able solve this problem with a cursory glance at a comment on the Internet. If you can, you would be a godsend.

At the end of the day, people are irrational around many things, including parking. Go to many of the hearings surrounding developments in Boston and you will encounter many of these people.
Ohhhhh. If you mentioned the HOA in the post I originally replied to, I missed it.

Now I get it.

That's not so much a public-policy problem or even really about parking supply (other than the fact that the overabundance of low-utilization street parking cuts the need for off-street parking), it's a problem of the vagaries and complexities of HOAs and their curiously strong powers. That one, regrettably, cannot be solved on the Internet. (Though a public and legislative debate on the merits, extent of powers, and potential limitations of powers of HOAs might be beneficial.)
 

bigeman312

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
330
Ohhhhh. If you mentioned the HOA in the post I originally replied to, I missed it.

Now I get it.

That's not so much a public-policy problem or even really about parking supply (other than the fact that the overabundance of low-utilization street parking cuts the need for off-street parking), it's a problem of the vagaries and complexities of HOAs and their curiously strong powers. That one, regrettably, cannot be solved on the Internet. (Though a public and legislative debate on the merits, extent of powers, and potential limitations of powers of HOAs might be beneficial.)
I didn’t, but the overwhelming majority of homeowners in the City of Boston are part of an HOA, so I don’t know why you assumed otherwise. Not a Boston homeowner I take it?

To be clear, I fully and 100%agree with that bylaw even if I disagree with the vote of my fellow condo board member. My issue is with the over abundance of parking, both public and private. Whether it was my parking spots being turned to higher use or it was street parking being turned to higher use and then my parking spots being able to be rented as the market wouldn’t be as saturated is neither here nor there. It was just emblematic of my street having an over saturation of parking. I am trying to stay on topic here. Just needed to correct your incorrect assertion that I could just turn my parking spots into higher use unilaterally.

Observed poor land use on my street was the topic of my post.
 
Last edited:

Brattle Loop

Active Member
Joined
Apr 28, 2020
Messages
244
Reaction score
338
I didn’t, but the overwhelming majority of homeowners in the City of Boston are part of an HOA, so I don’t know why you assumed otherwise. Not a Boston homeowner I take it?

To be clear, I fully and 100%agree with that bylaw even if I disagree with the vote of my fellow condo board member. My issue is with the over abundance of parking, both public and private. Whether it was my parking spots being turned to higher use or it was street parking being turned to higher use and then my parking spots being able to be rented as the market wouldn’t be as saturated is neither here nor there. It was just emblematic of my street having an over saturation of parking. I am trying to stay on topic here. Just needed to correct your incorrect assertion that I could just turn my parking spots into higher use unilaterally.

Observed poor land use on my street was the topic of my post.
Thanks for the clarification. I'm out in the suburbs where there's not quite so many HOAs.

I think it's obvious in your example that parking is too cheap in your area, given that there's clearly too much of it going unused (and thereby diminishing to nothing the value of the spaces your HOA requires remain used for parking). I'm not entirely sure what a policy response would be to that, especially because the problem isn't uniformly distributed (there are places like in my sister's example where there is, contra your street's example, an under-abundance of parking). Reducing supply where there's an overabundance would probably be a good idea, if likely both somewhat difficult and potentially politically treacherous if it goes wrong. (Accidentally cut the supply too far so the cost goes through the roof, people are going to complain.)

Makes me wonder whether, for instance, the city keep any track on utilization of street parking?
 

bigeman312

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
330
Thanks for the clarification. I'm out in the suburbs where there's not quite so many HOAs.

I think it's obvious in your example that parking is too cheap in your area, given that there's clearly too much of it going unused (and thereby diminishing to nothing the value of the spaces your HOA requires remain used for parking). I'm not entirely sure what a policy response would be to that, especially because the problem isn't uniformly distributed (there are places like in my sister's example where there is, contra your street's example, an under-abundance of parking). Reducing supply where there's an overabundance would probably be a good idea, if likely both somewhat difficult and potentially politically treacherous if it goes wrong. (Accidentally cut the supply too far so the cost goes through the roof, people are going to complain.)

Makes me wonder whether, for instance, the city keep any track on utilization of street parking?
Thanks for your response. I wholeheartedly agree that the city taking more of a data driven approach to parking would be a great step in the right direction.

In my fantasy dreamland, the city could take an automated tracking approach, broken down by the hour and the block, the city could annually, or every two years, adjust parking rules and rates on a given block.

For example: greater than 90% utilization on a fully residential street for a time period in which no permits are required? Introduce permit parking on those blocks in those times.
 

donkeybutlers

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
144
Reaction score
177
Missed the HOA part. Still seems you are blaming the city for the faults of the HOA.
 

bigeman312

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
330
Missed the HOA part. Still seems you are blaming the city for the faults of the HOA.
Only using an example to illustrate the over-abundance of parking on my street. Not blaming, just stating. As I said multiple times. Reading comprehension not your strong suit?
 

donkeybutlers

Active Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2021
Messages
144
Reaction score
177
Only using an example to illustrate the over-abundance of parking on my street. Not blaming, just stating. As I said multiple times. Reading comprehension not your strong suit?
Read what I quoted thats called blaming and you are being needlessly condescending. I think the page had loaded previous to the posts on Friday and i opened up again without reloading so i missed the posts on the HOA. I originally quoted it for different reasons but it does show blame. HOA only came up after someone asked and you were similarly accusatory in response.

You did start out by blaming the city for you not being able to make money on owning parking spaces and that problem seems to be much more directly a problem with the way your HOA views parking and its role in general than with the city. I understand that perfectly well after reading your other responses. Not sure why you seem to have such a superiority complex about it and need to insult my intelligence (including additional times in now deleted posts).

Therefore, the government giving away parking for free has caused my 550 square feet of land to sit as completely useless, vacant, paved asphalt.
Sounds like what actually causes this is you HOA but right there in your first message you are blaming the city for it?

Parking is indeed too cheap but not because you cant profit off parking spaces you don't even want and your HOA wont allow you to redevelop. And the city is not causing your land to sit as completely useless, vacant, paved asphalt the HOA is. You are defending the thing causing your problem and displacing this problem onto the city.
 
Last edited:

Top