The City held a meeting at the McKinley School on October 30 as a result of a request by the Ellis South End Neighborhood Association to consider adding additional angled parking on Warren Avenue. Angled parking already exists on the street between Berkeley and Clarendon Streets. The meeting was led by Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services Liaisonj Faisa Sharif, along with the Boston Transportation Department (BTD), who provided the concept for the parking.
Residents have complained about losing resident parking spots throughout the South End due to things like construction and the reworking of Tremont St., so this concept was explored as a way to add more parking spaces on Warren St. for residents in the area. The concept includes adding angled parking on Warren Ave. from Clarendon to Pembroke Streets on the same side the existing angled parking is, which would create around 28 additional parking spaces.
Residents who attended the meeting were very upset with the notification process, and those who live on Warren St. said they were not notified of the meeting. Many said they receive thorough notification any time a neighbor wants to do work on their property, and they would have appreciated a similar notification style in this instance, since this proposal affects a large number of people.
The Ellis South End Neighborhood Association said in an email that went out to its members that “once informed of the meeting, [the organization] sent out two flyers via email to all its members, including those who have signed up for the Ellis newsletter or attended Ellis events. We did this outreach even though we were not sponsoring this City meeting.” People not part of the Ellis organization said they should have received notification because this proposal directly affects them.
A good portion of the meeting was spent discussing neighbors’ dissatisfaction with the notification process and some said that more people would have attended if they had known about the meeting.
BTD then proposed the concept, which was a drawing that denoted what angled parking would look like between Clarendon and Pembroke. Someone commented that this was the first time anyone had seen this concept and the drawing made it seem like it was farther along in the process than just an initial concept.
The BTD team that was present at the meeting included Senior Planner Bill Conroy and engineer Carl McKenzie, who said that these plans had to be drawn up in order for people to have something to visually see and engage with so they could provide feedback. They said the drawing was nothing more than a visual aid for residents—there is no current plan to implement this idea.
Most people at the meeting were opposed to this proposal for varying reasons. Among the reasons were safety concerns about cars backing out of spaces in an area that is dense with families and pets, the parking would create additional traffic on Warren St., and aesthetic and historical concerns with the appearance of angled parking on the street.
A couple of people liked the proposal, however, and said that parking is a community effort in the South End because everyone has to park where there is a spot, whether it be on their street or not. They said this would benefit the entire community. Someone else said that angled parking also makes it easier to dig out a car after a snowstorm.
There was also a lot of discussion surrounding traffic and speeding issues in the area and the lack of enforcement. Another woman said that she would prefer protected bike lanes on Warren Ave. to increase accessibility for cyclists, as well as a set drop-off location for ride share services and deliveries.
With the upcoming redesign of Tremont St., which will take the street down to two lanes, some people were concerned that more people will use Warren St. as a cut through to avoid sitting in traffic on Tremont. One person said that this, along with the addition of spaces that are “more dangerous” would be a “double whammy” for Warren St.
There were several studies thrown around about the safety of angled parking, and there was a suggestion to consider looking at back-in angled parking, as it has proven to be safer than people having to back out into traffic.
“You can’t put in angled parking without safety features, and I mean hardcore safety features,” one woman said.
“This plan is conceptual,” Conroy said. There’s going to be ongoing discussions with this. We’re not here to push this plan on anyone.” He said he recognizes that people do speed up and down Warren St., and that other traffic calming measures are possible and can be discussed.
McKenzie said that BTD could put up “Thickly Settled: 25 MPH” signs on the street, as people said there is no existing speed limit signs. The speed limit in the City of Boston is currently 25 miles per hour.
Sharif said that any comments regarding the proposal should be submitted by November 30 so the City can decide if this idea should even continue to be pursued. “If most people are against it, discussion won’t continue” regarding this particular idea, she said. The City is holding office hours on November 14 from 10:00am-12:00pm and November 17 from 2:00-4:00pm at the Starbucks at 627 Tremont St. for people to provide feedback. Ellis Neighborhood Association also said they have asked the city to hold another public meeting for input regarding solutions to the resident parking problem in the South End.