Boston Considers Charging for Residential Parking Permits

As the city weighs possible solutions to Boston's parking problems, one idea to charge for parking permits is not popular among residents. While some say it would help free up spots, others say it worry it would come at a cost high enough to drive them out of the city.

There is no official proposal and the idea is far from being final, but it did come up in a Boston City Council committee meeting as a possible way to ease congestion on the city's already clogged streets. City officials are also considering limiting the number of permits given out.

Right now, all a driver has to do to obtain a resident parking permit is prove residency. There is no cost and no limit to how many parking permits each property can get. City officials said Boston has given out roughly 100,000 residential parking stickers.

There is no word on how much the city would charge, but officials said other cities charge between $25 and $100 a year, which would generate millions they could re-invest back into the neighborhoods.

"That's a lot of money to some people," said Frances Michalski, who has lived in South Boston for 65 years. "I just feel like they are nickel-and-diming us out of the city."

Committee Chairwoman Michelle Wu said the discussion is only in the early phases, and other ideas include a reduced rate for the elderly and low-income residents.

"It's really not what are we trying to squeeze out of residents," Wu said. "It's how we can we make the system more sane. We know that it is stressful in almost every neighborhood and what we have is only going to get worse as more people move into Boston."

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he is not in favor of the idea and wants the city to look at other creative solutions, such as putting more spots in vacant lots.

"I just think it would be hard to ask somebody to pay for a parking space and not guarantee that space in front of their home," Mayor Walsh said.

A number of public hearings will happen before any fee is made final, but in the meantime, city officials hope enforcement will help. The fine for parking in a resident spot without a permit increases from $40 to $60 starting Monday, July 2.

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