Councilor Zakim Pushes to Modernize Street Occupancy Permit Program

By Beth Treffeisen

Nothing can be more frustrating than circling around the streets of Boston looking for a parking spot. Many of those limited street parking spots are taken up due to street occupancy permits used for construction, repair, demolition and more.

Often times, those spots that block residents from parking there are left unused, leaving many car owners frustrated.

In an effort to make it harder to take advantage of, City Councilor Josh Zakim got approval to push forward a bill that will modernize the city’s street occupancy permit program that hasn’t been changed in 30 years to the committee of Government Operations.

“It’s frustrating problem in that everyone has had to deal with for a long time,” said Zakim. “Certainly for me, I deal with it living in the Back Bay.”

Right now, according to the city of Boston’s website, the price for a permit starts with a base price of $20 and then a fee of one dollar per square foot the space takes up per month. If it is taking up metered parking spaces there is an additional fee of $20 per metered spot a day.

No parking sings that state the dates, times, and parking restrictions cost four dollars each.

A month-long permit for a dumpster in spaces without meters would be $348 that includes the base fee of $20, the $1 per square foot per month, and eight dollars for two no parking signs.

The new ordinance outlines that Boston’s residential program provides much needed yet scare public resource to the city’s residents, but the prices for the spots haven’t changed since 1982, leaving the costs very low and easy to take advantage of by contractors.

Zakim said the current prices don’t take into account inflation or the current real-estate market.

The ordinance Zakim proposed will raise the primary fee to $100 and for each daily period in which the permit will be exercised with an additional 10 cents for each square foot. Permits will also only be granted for one month at a time.

“The city is not getting the full value of the spots,” said Zakim. “In the downtown area they are going for $300 to $500 for a month. To the rest of the neighborhoods it’s just not fair.”

Zakim said that he has heard a lot of constituent complaints not only in his neighborhoods of the Backy Bay and Beacon Hill but from other neighborhoods in Boston as well.  City Councilor Salvatore LaMattina at the Boston City Council said this a huge issue in the North End with parking being so scare and would like to see the ordinance pass.

Zakim hopes to continue work with the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Public Works to make his ordinance a reality.

“It’s a two-fold problem,” said Zakim. “The city is not getting the full value of the public property and when it is a low price  and it is not fair to the neighborhood.”

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