By Barbara Taormina
The City Council’s Parking Review Committee took another crack at developing a residential parking program this week, and members have tentatively agreed on the hours when parking restrictions should be enforced.
Councillors agreed that on-street parking throughout the city should be limited to residents from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m., Monday through Friday. In addition to the overnight restriction, on-street parking in zones surrounding the Malden Center and Oak Grove MBTA stations will be restricted to residents from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.
“If we feel that we need to fix it, we will,” said Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora, who has repeatedly said that there will be kinks in the program that will need to be adjusted as the program moves forward.
The two different time frames reflect the different parking issues that residents have in different parts of the city.
“Overnight parking, that’s what I get the most complaints about,” said Ward 8 Councillor Jadeane Sica.
But since committee members are following the advice of Parking Department Director Ron Hogan to keep the program simple and easy, restricting overnight parking to all residents, not just those in the east end of the city, seemed like the clearest and easiest way to go.
Parking around the T stations is a different problem, and councillors want to rid streets of commuters who park and walk to the stations, leaving their cars sitting in neighborhoods for the entire workday. The T parking zones have not been officially defined, but councillors have a working definition of anywhere in the city within 3,000 feet of either of the T stations.
Hogan advised the committee to figure out the dimensions of the T zones and then see if neighborhood residential parking restrictions already exist in those areas.
There are still scores of details to be worked out, and some of those issues are thorny. Councillor-at-Large Steve Winslow raised the question of visitor parking placards for family and friends.
Because the committee is considering an automated system with license plate scanners, Hogan described a possible online system that would have residents enter the license plate numbers of visitors into the system so they would not be ticketed. But the number of visiting cars that each resident could have and whether there would be a cost for visitors are still open questions.
Students who live in Malden but have cars registered in their hometowns, school zones, contractors hired for residential repairs and visiting home health aides are all topics that need to be tackled.
It’s not clear yet whether the city will go with actual stickers or just enter license plate numbers into a scanning system. However, either way, the idea now on the table is to make residential parking free for all residents who pay their excise tax.
But since collecting unpaid excise tax is one of the goals of residential parking, that option for free entry into the program might be limited to a couple of months. If excise tax payments are late, there could be a fee for residential parking.
Hogan did give the committee some good news about street signs that warn drivers about city parking restrictions. In earlier versions of residential parking programs, the estimate for street signs was upwards of $600,000. Hogan said the city has 4,500 poles, mostly located on one side of a street. He said if the committee could live with the limitation of signs on existing poles, the cost would decrease dramatically. “The signs themselves, 10 bucks a piece,” he said.