NEVER park in the Rite-Aid parking lot on Brighton Avenue in Allston

One tow company lies in wait there, the Globe explains.



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A very long non-story

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These lots are famous for this, and anyone who has ever lived in or around these areas knows or should know this (and since everyone has lived in or around A/B at least for a little while, that means everyone knows this, right?). The story kind of felt like one of those that gets run at the beginning of every academic year.

I've never understood why people get so excited over this. There are signs all over the place (often in multiple languages - the WF in Brighton has them in English, Russian, and what looks like Vietnamese (looks like it to me, but I'm not sure). If the businesses are closed, you can't be doing business there, so you can't be parked there for the limited purpose for which parking is offered - to wit, to shop at those businesses. It's a bright line test, and for that reason, it is just so easy for the tow operators. As a matter of fact, I saw one of the trucks in the back corner of the WF lot last night, just waiting for someone who didn't feel like driving around for another 15 minutes to look for a street spot, or who didn't want to use the valet at Tasca.

People always ask why the businesses care. Well, I wouldn't be interested in the increased liability and insurance premiums that would come with allowing people to park there whenever, amongst other reasons, such as the licensing requirements that might follow. I can't blame them for that - they're in the business of selling food, etc. not operating parking lots.

I've never really understood why people would expect to not be towed from lots like this - other than the fact that similar promises on suburban signs are rarely kept, but this is the city, folks. How would you like it if someone just parked their car in your driveway and took off to see their friends down the block?

Because people move in from

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Because people move in from the suburbs and expect the city to accommodate them. It's the reason why urban areas have been getting bulldozed for more highways, parking lots, and garages for over a half century. People get overly obsessed with making every destination easily accessible by car, that many destinations have now been bulldozed for the infrastructure to support cars. People spend more time going places than actually at places, because people have bulldozed most places trying to make it faster and easier to get to other places!

Pretty much nailed it

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"So many more people would be able to use the park if we replaced all that stupid green space with parking lots."

Nobody's making more parking

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Nobody's making more parking lots.
That's nonsense.
This lot and the others around it aren't new.
And what see in the city is vacant lots being built on for mostly mixed-use developments.


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Umm. its a empty parking lot. What liability? Many places in the city that have private parking lots put chains up with locks after the store closes to prevent people from parking there after the store closes. Seems pretty simple to me.

I've never understood why businesses care if people park there after they close. Yeah okay maybe liability if someone is raped in their car, they *could* be sued. Big f--kin deal, that's a stretch for a lawsuit. And all the business has to do is say "Parking after hours at your own risk". Poof, liability released.

Hell, they could go to the next step at what many of the businesses do in the Fenway that have attached lots (i.e. BK or the old McDonalds). Higher a company to manage the lot after you close, and *poof* extra income. Rather than become tow nazi's if you park there. ALLOW people to park there and make some extra money while you're at it.

And if all else fails.. put chains up at the entrances if you don't want people to park there. No, these companies would rather hire tow companies to charge people 131 bucks to get their car out of the tow lot. It seems like this is a clear money making scheme, rather than trying to solve a problem about illegal parking after hours.

You answered your own question on liability

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You seem to have answered your own question by noting that some places physically barricade their lots when they are closed. If there was no liability, why do you suppose that they would do that? Just because they want to make life difficult for others?

The reason that the lots down by Fenway operate as parking lots for Red Sox games is because they can charge enough money to make it worth their while. The lots in question are not similarly situated.


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Yeah I think the reason why they do that is simply, they don't want people to park there, its for customers only.

And as far as charging, um, I take it you don't live in Allston. Its bar central. They could make a mint Friday and Saturday selling parking, so bar go'ers have a place to park. Trust me, much like the Fenway lots (which btw, still charge even when its not baseball season due to the clubs nearby), I'd rather fork over 20 bucks to just pull in and park than to drive around for 30-45 minutes waiting for a metered space to free up.

Competing economics

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Depending upon the location, you can probably make more off of your lot by towing illegally parked cars than you can by operating it as a paid lot. Let's say you have 25 spaces, and you can charge, say, $20 per night per space; that's $500 per night. From that you need to take away the cost of hiring an attendant, obtaining a parking lot license, etc. In contrast, if you tow illegally parked cars, you probably only need to tow 5 illegally cars per night to make more profit than you could by operating a parking lot.

I'm pretty sure the only

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I'm pretty sure the only company that makes money off towing is the tow company, not the owner of the lot.

More on parking economics

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Why would you think that?

The property owner and the towing company can enter into whatever deal they want. If the property is a potential gold mine for a towing company, why would the property owner let the towing company have the business for free?

"How would you like it if

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"How would you like it if someone just parked their car in your driveway and took off to see their friends down the block?"

What a stupid analogy. My driveway isnt open to the public for most of the day and then arbitrarily closed at 10pm.

There is absolutely NO reason the businesses should care if people park there and shop elsewhere, unless they are taking spots customers need. If the shop is closed, customers don't need them.

It's just terrible PR. Every single time someone is towed is a potential customer that is never shopping in that rite aid in the future.

Dial it down there, J.

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Stupid, eh?

Your driveway is open to your invitees only, and only when you choose to open it to them. Everyone else is a trespasser.

I have an invitation to park in the Whole Foods lot only during the hours that they are open. Their lot is not public property. My invitation to park there and the invitation to everyone else terminates when they close (which we are all put on notice of by the many signs). Parking in their lot after they close puts me in the same situation with WF as I would in your driveway all the time - that of a trespasser. Far from being stupid, the analogy is spot on, that is, of course, unless you have no problem with people trespassing on your property and everything that can come with that (look it up).

As for no reason to not permit parking, I am not about to give a treatise on property law and premises liability, but suffice it to say that their potential liability is significant. You can also see my response to the less trolly comment above.


Allston? Forget that! Never park..

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in the limo lot at Terminal E. Over the years I have watched hundreds of cars towed. People just don't realize that if there only limos in it, it's not a public lot.

We even warn people that their cars will not be there when they come out and of course the ones who don't listen are usually BMW owners, who run like hell after they see their car headed out of the lot on a hook. One time we told a woman not to park there and she thought they would not tow her because of the St. Bernard in the back. The Massport tow guy came, yelled at the dog to sit only one time and away the car went.

Since the early 1990's

I used to live in Brighton and at the weekends we would head over to the now gone Kinvara Pub and friends would often park in the lot.

Something in the early 1990's (maybe 1992?) they started towing people at night who were parked there for more than an hour. They were pretty draconian about it too.

issacg is right that people shouldn't expect to park in a private lot, but people get desperate when they've been driving around for ages looking for a spot.

It started earlier than that

Back in the late 80s, friends and I would often hang out on the wall above the Blanchard's with a case of beer and play a drinking game that involved taking a drink every time a car was towed. The beer never lasted long.

it used to be osco drug

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and they towed like mf'ers then too. i lived in the area and cant tell you how many times my friends and i would meet girls who were willing to "take us home" only to find out they had parked in this black hole. their cars were ALWAYS gone. blanchards was pretty bad too but i think that was because there were some pretty violent incidents back there over the years. the old sports depot never really seemed to tow and the kinvara had a lot that had a lot of turnover, you just had to wait a little bit for a spot and then you could leave your ride and walk to any of the bars on the ave with no fear of towing.i spent way too many nights drinking in this neighborhood.

Suburban parking lot in the midst of a city

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That Rite-Aid parking lot is a blight. It's quite simply out of place. Putting your parking lot out front is a suburban tactic. But in a city, I'm pretty sure that it hurts the businesses there. For the longest time, I didn't even realize that the Rite-Aid was still open. I thought it had folded up and gone out of business. The parking lot may as well be a wall, to a pedestrian, as there's almost no reason to cross it spontaneously.

That whole lot is being renovated by new ownership. I don't think they are planning to rebuild, though, so the parking lot will remain, sadly. I am curious to see if the new store does any better than the old.

I think it would be better off if the parking lot had been built behind the stores, and if it was open to general parking with meters. This way, customers could come and park once, then go to various businesses. For example, Davis Square has this. The parking lot owner could operate it as a standalone business, or alternatively, the Rite-Aid could offer validation to its customers, if it was worried about meter fees.

Excellent comment!

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Excellent comment!

Rite Aid Southie

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Their lot is jammed with cars. You go in the store and the place is empty. The car's owners are all drinking in the local watering holes.
The tow companies would make a killing.

Rite Aid at Dot and Savin Hill Aves

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Notorious for this and it's by the Casey's outfit from the Globe article.
They lurk around the corner and roll out as soon as you're away from your car.

I agree it's private property and the owners have good reasons for not leaving it open but I think chaining it off would be a much better way to go, PR-wise.
I wonder if these property owners (not the lessees) are getting a cut from these tow charges.

If I owned a store with a lot

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If my hours were 9A to 10P, then I'd tow. But I'd tell the tow guys to come at 7A and clear the lot by 9A. I'd put up signs saying that the parking lot is free to use between 10P and 7A, but you're towed at 7A-9A.

The Whole Foods in Brighton gets a lot of tow business for 2 reasons: 1) there's a decent amount of businesses and high-density housing nearby Washington & Comm Ave but pretty much ZERO public parking in the area because of how much of it is taken up by residents; and 2) it's right on the border of "no overnight parking" Brookline.

But basically, the tow company gets rich and the Whole Foods keeps people out of its lot for like 12 hours each day for no good reason (regardless of all the fun stuff people have said in the comments here about liability and ownership).

If you owned a store with a lot

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You might find out quickly why they tow all the time.

Amazing how quickly the locals will get to thinking of your property as their rightful place to store their private vehicle that they obtained without having any place to put it.

Did you even read what I wrote?

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I said I'd tow. Daily, even. I'd just do it at the END of the time that I wasn't using the lot, not the beginning like Whole Foods and Roberts do.

Nice that you would do that.

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It's nice that you would give your parking lot to the neighborhood while you weren't using it. Business who do things like that get the reputation of being good neighbors - people like them, and patronize them, and back them when it comes time to go before the community asking for a zoning variance or some such.

But a property owner is certainly not under any obligation to let the public use his parking lot for free when he's not using it. It's his private property.

I've lived in allston and

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I've lived in allston and seen these vultures at work. Once they have your car, they can essentially charge you whatever you want. The city is in on the racket too, as the article points out.

Also, that Rite Aid, the Tedeschi's in Union square up the street.. they will tow you while in the store. I've seen it. I have had friends inside for less than 5 minutes buying a soda and the car is on the back on the tow truck. I wont use those lots even if im going in those businesses.

But isn't it a waste of land

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But isn't it a waste of land for the city to have these huge parking lots that remain vacant for a large part of the day, while people stuggle to find parking elsewhere?

Part of the problem is our very city encourages this with huge parking minimums when a new retail site opens. Maybe the city could open up new public lots that could be used by more people throughout the day.

Maximum Fees???

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"Across Massachusetts, the state sets maximum fees: $90 per tow, plus a $35-a-day storage fee, a $3-per-mile round-trip charge for all tows over 5 miles, and a fuel surcharge that can add $5 to $6. That means a basic tow will cost roughly $130"

Im looking at a receipt from Brighton Towing in the amount of $190 for towing my car 1/8 of a mile to their lot. I picked it up an hour later. Where is the law that protects me?

Parking "Spotters"

When I lived on Parkvale back in the early 90's, a friend of mine worked for the tow companies that was in charge of the then Osco lot. He was paid to hang around and watch people who parked after Osco closed. If they parked and headed off down the street, he called the tow driver and they had the car hooked up and gone in less than 5 minutes from the time the driver left the car.