By Kerry Kohring
SNA board member
The city is unilaterally instituting overnight on-street parking throughout the city without the approval of residents or their elected representatives, the City Council.
According to the city’s web site, what began last year on the West End as a “pilot overnight parking program” will be expanded to all other parts of the city “through the spring and summer, neighborhood by neighborhood.” There is no specific timetable as yet for implementation in the Summit neighborhood, but when it comes, this is what will happen.
A window sticker will be provided, and must be applied to the upper left hand corner of the rear window. Once the permit sticker is applied, residents can park overnight in a legal spot on a street designated by street signs as an ‘overnight parking’ street. Street signs will read, NO PARKING 2:00 AM TO 5:00 AM EXCEPT BY RESIDENT PERMIT,” the web site says.
This means that any vehicle with a sticker may park overnight anywhere on a designated street anywhere in the city without regard to the wishes of the people who live on that street. There is no indication as to how the city chose which streets are to be included, but there is an “opt-out” provision that requires signatures from two thirds of the residents on that street declaring they choose to not participate. Anyone seeking to exempt a street will be responsible for collecting the signatures of two thirds of the residents of the entire street, not just a block or two.
A color-coded map of the streets of Summit and their classification as to no parking, parking on one side and parking on both sides.
The permits are $100 per year, with a limit of two permits per household/unit. Buildings with six units or more will not be eligible for the program unless they can demonstrate a significant hardship (lack of off-street parking). Under these rules, any building that does not now have adequate off-street space will be allowed to park two vehicles per unit on any street simply by declaring that it doesn¹t have room to accommodate them.
Further, the web site declares, the program will provide an economic boost to property owners and realtors who historically have difficulty finding tenants when they don’t have a driveway or parking lot to offer. This implies that landlords who are now limited as to the number of units in a rental property will be able to cram more into a building by putting two cars per unit on the street.
In addition, there will be $25 guest passes that will allow an additional car per household unit to be parked on the street, up to five times per month. The current practice of calling the police to request that an overnight guest not be ticketed will no longer be allowed.
The resident must be a part of the overnight parking program in order to have an overnight guest. To obtain the overall permit, residents will be required to go to Providence Municipal Court at the Public Safety Complex, 325 Washington St., with a valid, original Rhode Island registration that shows the address of a street in the pilot parking area.² Any outstanding tickets on the vehicle registration must be paid and residents will be required to provide a valid email and/or cell phone number that the city will use to provide parkers with information about parking bans during snow storm and other weather events.
Holders of the permits will be advised whenever a snow emergency or other parking ban is declared, and will be responsible for removing their cars from the street for the duration of the ban. Vehicles parked on a designated street from 2-5 a.m. during a parking ban are subject to a $20 citation.
The city’s web site declares that the program, supported by Mayor Angel Taveras, will provide an economic boost, improve the quality of life for many who live in the city and make Providence a greener city. It doesn’t address how bringing more cars onto city streets will make Providence greener.
The web site announcement also doesn’t allow for citizen input in the decision-making process. It states only that “The city’s Parking Administrator will conduct a series of information sessions in affected neighborhoods (to) explain expansion of overnight parking and answer any questions.” The Providence City Council, openly divided on the plan, has declined to endorse it.
The Summit Neighborhood Association Board of Directors, at its meeting April 23, voted to poll neighborhood residents as to the desirability of lifting the long-standing overnight-parking ban and the provision of setting only an “opt-out” procedure. Complete results of the poll are not in yet, but will be published here.
The board also directed its president to convey to the mayor and other neighborhood organizations three points: That the SNA board disapproves of bypassing the City Council on expanding the “pilot project” of lifting the ban city wide; that the board supports transparency in the decision process; and that the board demands a public voice in that process.