City officials cited several reasons for the recent decision to temporarily lift the overnight parking ban, including milder winters and accommodating residents who don't have dedicated off-street parking, according to interviews and meeting minutes.
The Traffic Commission, which oversees parking policies in Waltham, temporarily lifted the ban until May when it plans to review the policy again. The Commission approved the decision on at its Dec. 19 meeting.
The Commission is leaning toward permanently eliminating the parking ban, according to its chairman, Frank Lombardo.
The ban typically prohibits on-street parking between 2 and 6 a.m. on most streets.
With the ban lifted, motorists must still leave at least 10 feet of road open to allow emergency vehicles to pass, Lombardo said. Violators of that rule are subject to a $25 fine.
Motorists must also still follow the on-street parking prohibition imposed during snow emergencies, Lombardo said. Violators of the snow emergency parking ban are subject to being towed.
REASONS FOR LIFTING THR BAN
The milder winter weather Waltham has seen recently was just one of the reasons city officials cited for lifting the ban. Lombardo said less snowfall in recent years had lead the commission to enforce the ban mostly between November and April.
Other officials cited residents’ parking struggles as a compelling factor for lifting the parking ban. During the Commission’s Dec. 19 meeting, MacPherson said ticketing violators of the ban did not address any public safety issues and created a “hardship” for impacted residents who don’t have dedicated off-street parking, according to the meeting minutes.
Director of Consolidated Public Works Michael Chiasson supported lifting the ban saying that any cars blocking snow plows can be towed anyway, according to the Dec. 19 minutes. Fire Chief Paul Ciccone furthered Chiasson’s point saying as long as a 10 feet lane was left for emergency vehicles, axing the rule would not cause a problem, according to the meeting minutes.
Mayor Jeanette McCarthy, after hearing of the recent decision, said she is seeking more information on the reason for the decision from MacPherson.
“I have not heard all the facts,” she told Waltham Patch.
So far, however, Lombardo said he has not heard any complaints about lifting the ban.
“It looks like it might be working,” Lombardo said.
The decision was made in the of City Councilor Robert Logan’s request for the Commission to reverse its policy of automatically rejecting citizens’ petitions for allowing overnight parking unless the street met a minimum width requirement, he told Waltham Patch. Logan’s request also included increasing the minimum width for which the overnight parking ban would apply.
Logan argued, in a Sept. 20 email to MacPherson (who sits on the Commission), that the ban was not as important as it was in previous years. He said the rule was less relevant now that the city uses Facebook, Twitter, Reverse 911 and other tools to inform residents to remove their cars from the street during snow emergencies.
“I am hopeful that this will eventually lead to abolishing the entire regulation. It has outlived its usefulness and is a source of much aggravation for many residents,” Logan wrote in an email to Waltham Patch.
HISTORY OF THE PARKING BAN
The history of the ban dates back to the Blizzard of 1978, according to Logan. As a result of parking and snow-clearing difficulties during the storm, the Traffic Commission converted some city streets to one-way roads and banned parking on both sides of the streets, Logan wrote in his email to MacPherson. The Commission also imposed the overnight parking, he wrote.