Citizen complaint of the day: Dangerous role reversal on one South Boston street

Loring Street

A concerned citizen complains about this creative reuse of the sidewalk on Loring Street in South Boston:

While working with the elderly we had to leave the sidewalk and walk in the street because if these 2 cars taking up there own sidewalk parking spots. Every weekend into Monday it is like this...... Really????



Free tagging: 


Sidewalk parking

It's real simple. If you see this happening on your street. Simply call 911 and give them the address of the violaton. They will gladly come and ticket the offenders. Like the old saying goes "Hit them in the wallet!"



And the times I have called they have directed me on to 911 (can't remember if they diverted the call or asked me to hangup and call the other number).

Our district commander asked us not to do this

At a community meeting, he said, "Please do not call the station. Please call 911. The 911 center is designed and staffed to handle emergency and non-emergency calls. The station house is not staffed to handle calls. More importantly, for "quality of life" issues and minor crimes, calls to 911 get logged in a database, so that at the end of the month I get a printout and a map, and I can see where the problem areas are; calls to the station house sort of get lost. "


Don't they know?

Its just fine to build housing without parking. Why would anyone want parking?


Nowadays, jobs are not life-long and change more easily for most people than where they live. A car-free lifestyle and residence may have worked when the person/people first moved there, its not reasonable to assume it will always work. They may go from single to couple and the new member needs a car. The owner could change workplace and need a car. A couple could become parents where having a car is easier to get to doctor and other appointments. Residents might want to not move if their mortgage is under water, or they have relatives in the neighborhood, who might also help with child care. Perhaps they or their children have friends there and don't want to move. Moving is a bigger deal for grown ups than it was in college at the end of the school year. Not having parking available is a huge handicap when life circumstances change.

Selling housing without parking is a trap much like balloon payment mortgages. Everything is fine until a(nother) car is needed or the balloon payment is due. Recipe for problems.



I mean, these people just wanted parking that they weren't given by the way the house was built. So, it's only logical that they should get to park anywhere they want as a result.

It's owed to them!


How People React Vs. How they should react

I think Markk's point is not saying they have a right to take the sidewalk as their own personal parking spot. Instead, that building places without parking inevitably leads to people buying such places anyways and then taking up some practices.

Please note that this is not advocating 2 spots or mandated units. I just find this rebutting comment doesn't dismiss his point because his point is this is how people are going to do and saying "they shouldn't have that mentality" doesn't change that people are doing that. Regardless of upvote popularity.


The real problem here

It isn't "building housing without parking".

The real problem is "bringing cars into the city when you do not have parking".

Most civilized places make this distinction. You can't even register a vehicle in some places without proof of having a place to put it.

The answer isn't "make more parking". The answer is "don't get a car you don't have space for".


Again, That's How People Should React

Again, That's How People Should React. Should do vs did do.

What people should do when they don't have the space? Don't get a car.

What people really do when they don't have the space? They get a car and do things like this.

Again, Swirrly and everyone I'm not saying the solution is more parking. I'm perfectly aware and quite understanding the reasons, namely building enough parking ironically will have to kill the very reason why this area and many area are desired. My point is just saying "they shouldn't get a car" doesn't change what they are doing anyways. Solutions have mean either preventing the activity from happening by some means or dealing with it in some way. But just "shouldn't" doesn't really do that, but as seen in this post, they are anyways.



It means that if you have to have a car, you should not expect the rest of the people around you to subsidize your parking. I also work outside the city and I live in South Boston. I own a car and a garage. I don't push my needs on others and make them pay for it. Nor do I park on the sidewalk. And honestly, if you did that on my street, you'd come out to 4 flats in the morning.


No, gas/excise taxes do not cover costs

Local city streets are largely paid for via property tax, which is assessed on everyone, car owner or not. Renters pay too, as property owners will pass the cost through.

To answer your other question, below, your gas/excise tax largely go to maintaining the highway system and other intercity routes. They don't manage to cover that cost either, especially because the value of the gas excise tax has been declining in the past 20 years. That's why it was necessary to raise it in the most recent transportation bill, and index it to inflation to prevent the same decline.

It still won't cover local streets, though. On-street parking is subsidized by the local taxpayers of Boston, both through maintenance of way costs, and through loss of opportunity: paved public land does not generate tax revenue, and land occupied by cars does not contribute to other qualities of life.

Not just local property taxes

The state pays many millions of dollars to the 351 cities and towns by a formula, mainly for the maintenance of roads. Land acquisition to make new roads, widen roads, and make new sidewalks does have to come from that city/town, except when new state/federal highways are built (and that's not happened in a very long time).

Oh, and user fees (what gas taxes and tolls are) don't cover MBTA and Amtrack expenses either.

Let's do some math.

Let's do some math.

Let's say a typical parking space is 8' wide and 18' long. That's 144 square feet. This table lists the average square foot rent for a South Boston apartment at $2.58. That's $371 per month for that spot, or over $4,000 per year.

You tell me if your gas tax and registration are paying for that.

Say a family owns two cars, one of which is rarely driven. Should that car not be allowed to park on the street, by your logic, because it's hardly using any gas?

Say I hand over to the state the amount of money I'd pay to register a car and the gas tax I'd pay to drive a car, say, a few thousand miles in a year. Can I then find a 8'x18' curbside patch and use it for some extra storage?

I agree with both of you

However, consider this: the living spaces wouldn't be so far back from the center-line of the street if those spaces weren't there. So, parking spaces are just more space that could be developed. However, if it isn't developed, but is instead left to be a parking space, then it must be determined to be of equal or perhaps even greater value than the living space, no? I mean, granted, everything is skewed when you're in a subsidized environment that we ultimately are all forced to wrangle with, so it is hard to get the full picture. Also, consider this: if you're in a neighborhood of multi-stories (let's say five), then you're saying that on-street parking space... that one, single space, is of equal or greater value than that space being indoors, heated, furnished, etc *times five*.

Just another way to look at things. It's all quite a marvelous, complex formula which we ultimately can't find ourselves able to assign a concrete free market value to by just talking about it amongst ourselves here.

...says the suburbanite with

...says the suburbanite with a non fuel efficient mini-van which she parks in her driveway! Those who live in spacious glass mcmansions with dedicated private parking lots might want to refrain from preaching whether or not working class Boston resident car owners should be able to legally park on Boston city streets, swrrlygrrl. You've got yours though, right? smh



I park in South Boston sometimes and I pay to do so. Where's my free space? Huh? God knows I pay more than enough in state taxes and a fair bit of my dollars subsidize those "working class residents" of Boston when it comes to whining for more snow removal money - I want the free parking that I pay for now!

See, I can play at this stupid I'M OWED SOMETHING game, too! Gimme!

p.s. I don't own a minivan, we got 35mpg in traffic this morning, and my house is 1300 square feet for four people. So much for your assumptions.

Yes, but

that's a short-sighted conclusion, especially if the property in question in owned instead of rented, or lived in by a couple instead of a single person. Boston has plenty of jobs outside the range of the T, or outside of a reasonable commute via the T. Perhaps the person signed the lease or bought it when they did not need a car, and then got a new job that required a car. Or perhaps they signed the lease or bought the place because one of the residents works long hours or is "on call" a lot, and needs to live near work, but the other does not. Or finally, perhaps one of them has a job that requires they be at work between 12 am- 5 am, which means that taking the T is completely off the table.

You can't say "This is a car-free living city," until the bulk of the city's economy is easily accessible via mass transit. Boston's isn't, due to the crummy commuter rail schedules, the sprawling nature of the T, and the fact that the T does not run in the middle of the night. Unless you want to force everyone to break their lease or sell their condo when they change jobs, that's just not going to happen.


"Need for car" is irrelevant to this question

If you need a car, then fine. But take responsibility for it. Finding a parking space is part of that responsibility. You can't just buy a car and then expect a parking space to magically appear for you for free. You should expect to pay for it, in fact. Parking takes up land, and land is not free. But there are plenty of businesses out there which offer parking spaces for lease, ready to serve these kinds of needs.

You don't expect gasoline for free. You don't expect insurance for free. You don't expect maintenance for free. Why do you expect parking for free?

Whether you need a car or not is irrelevant to the question of whether it is ok to park on the sidewalk. It is never ok to park on the sidewalk.


Boston has a great deal of on

Boston has a great deal of on street parking that is free. So yes, people with cars should expect to find one of those "magical" spots you speak of. Street space designated for parking does take up land and is free, if you don't find such a spot, then you should expect to pay for parking. Why shouldn't people be able to park on a public street? People expect on street parking for free, because that is the reality. Good luck changing that.

Parking on the sidewalk is disgraceful and there is no excuse. It is upsetting to think of the individuals impacted by such a selfish parking decision. Hopefully there were not many people out this weekend and the impact was minimal. I understand why some people on scooters and in motorized wheelchairs use the main roads.

What if the house caught on fire? BFD could have been delayed and obstructed from responding, The gas from those vehicles would have contributed significantly to the situation.

On-street parking is not free -- it's subsidized

Parking on streets is not free. It's subsidized by the taxpayers of the city. The cost is passed on through your property tax, and everyone pays for it. Anyway, that discussion is aside.

If you buy a car, you should take responsibility for it. Period. That includes finding a parking space for it, whether it be on-street (through the broken system that exists today), or off-street, it is nobody else's responsibility but yours.

The sidewalk is not the appropriate place for it.

Not much

Not much at all. Gas tax goes into the general fund for the state, and only accounts for about 1/4 of the total cost of road upkeep in MA.

Excise tax goes to the city, and still doesn't cover all the expenditures for road maintenance and plowing.

The rest is subsidized by property taxes and local aid from income tax, which people without cars also pay.

Car inspection fees go to MBTA

Last year a surplus of car inspection fees got transferred to help cover MBTA deficits.
Gas taxes and tolls are user fees, like plane tickets, cab fare, train fare etc.
Excise taxes are a property tax, much like real estate taxes. Both go to your city/town. The bad part is that city/town voters have a voice over their real-estate tax rate, while vehicle property taxes are set by state law.

How is that?

Really, I'm curious. What part of the project did the MBTA pick up? The previous debt it assumed was from the Red Line expansion in the 1980's that was transferred from the state's books to the MBTA's in exchange for part of the sales tax. Didn't the Big Dig require moving some rail lines, or at least freezing the ground under them, or something? Or was the debt for the Silver Line and station creation?

mbta debt

The debt that the MBTA assumed was for projects that MassDOT (or what would become MassDOT) was required to do as part of the Big Dig. Basically, you want your massive vehicular colonic in downtown, you will also invest in these other projects which will offset the added pollution all those cars will introduce or the project does not go. There is a potpourri of transit-related projects that were on that list of projects which came about as a result of a lawsuit (as I understand it). One of them was the Blue-Red connector -- and MassDOT basically has done what everyone on this blog complains about our court system in general doing - they are not complying with the sentence. Early parole on the Red-Blue connector, as it were. (Given that this was a result of a legal action I can rest assured that if anything I just said is not accurate, it will be corrected by a lawyer.)

So a large chunk of the MBTA debt is related to transit projects that were required for the Big Dig, hence "Big Dig debt."

Conservation Law Foundation at fault

CLF is at fault for the extra MBTA debt based on alleged, projected increase in air pollution, not the Big Dig itself. Did CLF make the MBTA do unneeded projects like the Green Line Extension (GLX), Southeast rail, Silver Line, and that Red-Blue connector? We can all thank the assholes at CLF for lousy service on the T due to unnecessary debt piled on.

Not how it works

The Clean Air Act set by the federal government and as enacted by the State Implementation Plan is what determines alleged increases based on vehicle capacities of the roads.

The CLF simply sued to require the state to abide by its own law and federal law. Don't like the law? Don't blame the CLF. They didn't write the law.

Furthermore, it was Republican Governor Celucci's decision to clear the Big Dig debt by attaching it to the MBTA's budget. Then by passing the Forward Funding budget requirements for the MBTA based on bullshit fiscal projections, he ham-strung what had previously been balanced on the regular state budget, allowing overruns to be picked up by the State instead of forced on further drawing debt in times of crisis. When the sales tax projections fell flat on their face, the MBTA had to issue more debt and refinance the hell out of the Big Dig debt given to it instead of pay it off.

So you can thank shitty governance for the debt and inability to pay it. You can thank the rest of us for wanting to not be Beijing for your clean air remediations. The CLF was just there to make sure the government kept its word and didn't ignore the law when it's cheaper or more convenient.

List of projects

I don't think southeast rail was one of the projects in that list. I believe there were a number of suburban commuter rail station enhancements (including parking facilities) that were included and completed (unlike many of the transit items on the list that had to be chased after to ensure they went somewhere).

Blaming CLF for forcing the govt to enforce its own laws is a particularly stupid thing to say. But not particularly surprising.

BFD could have been delayed

BFD could have been delayed and obstructed from responding

The same would've been true for a police car responding to a crime such as robbery or assault, or an ambulance responding to the call of the family of a heart attack, stroke, or even a poisoning victim.


Lots of places don't have parking connected to every residence. Only in southie do people respond by parking on the sidewalk with impunity.

Doesn't matter

"This is how people are going to do" signifies either defeat or acceptance of lowering the bar.

"If you're going to build houses without parking, then people are going to park on the sidewalks" demonstrates that you've already ceded reasonability. It also states a problem, not a solution. It passive-aggressively suggests that the only way to stop parking on sidewalks is to build houses with parking. However, that's not the only solution. But in stating it as the precept to the undesirable behavior being witnessed, then stopping the precedent is automatically the solution.

If X, then Y. Y is bad. Therefore, don't do X.

However, instead the problem should be framed as "If X, then Y. Y is bad. X won't/shouldn't change. Unlink Y from X." We shouldn't plan for every house to have parking just because people do bad things when not given free/easy parking access. People do bad things all the time and we don't suggest that the fault lies in our current reality.

You wouldn't agree with "If you're going to build buildings with blank walls, then people are going to spray paint them" or "If you're going to let dogs play in parks, then people are going to leave dog crap in the parks" as antecedents for mandatory non-blank walls or ending dog hours in the park. No, you're going to punish the taggers and inconsiderate dog owners for their illegal actions. The same thing applies here. Just because people park poorly when they have no private parking, doesn't mean we have to build more private parking. It means we have to convince people that behaving civilly in their current reality of no private parking is in their best interest.


Misused Housing

That particular house does in fact have a parking garage built into it which someone else pointed out.

But whether a garage is included or if they build housing without parking as there was originally plenty of street parking.,, Conditions can change. When most of those houses were built, it was expected that they would be lived in by families who would own one car. Even a split three decker would generate no more than 3 cars. When the housing was designed almost nobody over the age of 20 was still single and living with other singles in these neighborhoods. This scenario you have now with most of the apartments in Boston being occupied by single people in each bedroom and each with their own car is not what the neighborhoods were designed to accommodate. Now a three decker that originally generated at most 3 vehicles is generating 6-9.

What you won't see any time soon is any wholesale redesign of these neighborhoods of crowded three deckers. So people who choose to live there need to choose to be car-less.


New building in south is

Seems to all feature a first floor devoted to parking. This isn't going to make a huge difference--whit more than one car per unit--but it is a big change in building type.

I agree with your basic premise though, no car or a car share service is the best way to go in many neighborhoods.


Family size also changes

By your logic, we need a minimum bedroom requirement -- just in case you add a child to your family!

Here's a sample "Mark K. zoning" amendment: "All units must have at least 3 bedrooms and 3 parking spots. Just in case. You know what, make it 4 of each. If you can't afford that, too bad, you can't live here!"

4BR is right!

I remember years ago going along with my parents house hunting in the suburbs. The real estate agent told my parents that it would be better to buy a 4 bedroom house even though 3 was fine, because it would be easier to re-sell. So, yeah, better to have expansion space or margin for error, or room for more stuff (George Carlin routine).

Personally, I'm not practicing this very well. My car only has 2 seats instead of the usual 4,5, or 6 seats.

Jeezus, Mark

Selling housing without parking is a trap much like balloon payment mortgages. Everything is fine until a(nother) car is needed or the balloon payment is due. Recipe for problems.

Yeah. What's even worse are those sneaky sellers who sell 2BR houses or apartments. Now *that's* a trap, because, you know, everything's fine until you have another kid and need another BR, or one of you starts working from home and needs an office. A trap, I tell you; a recipe for problems.


Normally they're half in the

Normally they're half in the street and half on the sidewalk, so this is actually an improvement from what I'm used to. The generational families on my street (Middle St) in Southie tend to this, sometimes over night, and are never ticketed. The sidewalks are already less than 2 feet wide in some areas because of trees, so when I see them do this its just one more obstacle. I try not to be one of those yuppies that whines about everything because they've probably been parking like this for 70 years. I really don't want to be one of those yuppies that waves hello to my neighbor but then runs upstairs and calls 911 to get their cars ticketed. Finally, I don't want to be one of those yuppies that is forced to walk in the street because the sidewalk is blocked and get run over by a car. Its a fine balance.


We have a busybody neighbor

We have a busybody neighbor on our quiet 1 way sidestreet in...we stopped parking on his side of our street because he will come outside and insist we park in front of a fire hydrant so he can park his family's second car in the street space directly adjacent to their driveway--and i quote--"IF" they want to.

More parking is no guaruntee that people who feel like they own this place wont continue to act as if they own this place



In my opinion, it's these people that are the problem. This is what's at the root of the space saver problem and pretty much every parking problem in Boston - the false idea that you are entitled to certain street spots by virtue of living in proximity. I guarantee that if you asked the douche canoes who parked on the sidewalk here why they did it, they'd say that they live there and someone else had parked in "their" spots.


There are certain things that

There are certain things that are legal like: a space saver, for up to 48 hours after a snow emergency is lifted.
This, however, is not cool. Children and the elderly *especially* need the side walk. The purpose is in the name!

So next Friday, put a lawn

So next Friday, put a lawn chair out there with a sign that reads "if you park here your car will be vandalized." It seems to work for keeping people from parking on-street in Southie. Then, if they're still there, run in to them with a wheel chair. Make sure to really scrape along the side of the car. Is it vandalism if you're disabled and trying to get by?



Speaking of irresponsible behavior....this really takes the cake! Since when do people have the unmitigated audacity to park cars on a sidewalk, especially in such a densely-populated urban area? Those cars should be towed and a heavy fine levied on the owners, to hopefully teach him/her a lesson...not to park on the sidewalk again in the future!


Call in

The tow yourself. I'm sure the tow company would not only be glad to make the money, but have to get in touch w BPD/BTD as well....with a bit more influence.


I grew up on the next street

I grew up on the next street over. I have to correct the person who said ‘those houses were built with families in mind who owned one car’. This is not the case; when those houses were built in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, that area of Boston was extremely poor and people did not owned automobiles and would often use horse and carriage to get around (if they could even afford that luxury). I’ve seen black and white photographs from my dad’s generation and those streets are completely empty. Even when I was growing up in the 70’s, you’d be lucky to see 5 or 6 cars (usually station wagons) parked in and around the neighborhood. The automotive industry has since exploded and South Boston has gradually, in the last two decades, become the latest hot spot and more recently with the redevelopment of the Seaport District and Broadway Station, it has become the trendy place to live with people moving there in droves to take advantage of its proximity to Downtown Boston, it’s beaches, and its easy highway access.

Those who have adopted illegal parking practices and the space-saver mentality are both ‘outsiders / yuppies’ as well as the ‘locals’ who grew up there. It’s a constant ‘us vs. them’ battle. Yet, both sides are guilty, and both sides feel validated in their actions. Both sides are actually wrong by not merging into one community and working collectively to resolve the issues. It’s like a balloon being filled with air, eventually it will pop. Things in South Boston will get a lot worse before they get better and I suspect more people will get hurt, probably even seriously hurt.


That would be a violation of

That would be a violation of the Americans with Disability Act as well. How would somebody in a wheelchair get down that street?If I saw it not only would I flatten your tires, I'd break every single window and mirror. (My mother is wheelchair bound)


I find it really funny that

I find it really funny that not a single person has suggested that these people might be visitors to the neighborhood. It's as if the concept of having friends is completely foreign to the people who post here, which isn't surprising and actually explains a lot. People get so up in arms about minor issues like this or anything to with riding a bicycle but more serious news like people getting shot or a store getting robbed just gets a few passing comments about how the perpetrator deserves to die or get locked up for life.

As for your handicapped mother or the handicapped people who had to go around these cars... get over it. Most wheelchair-bound people I've met are used to dealing with inaccessible buildings and walkways and don't mind going around (which takes all of two minutes tops) and don't really seem to complain about minor inconveniences like this. It's always the PC oh-so-caring white liberal who gets upset over this sort of thing even though it doesn't affect them in the slightest. The same people who gasp when someone says "nigger" while any nearby black people just dismiss whoever said it as a racist and move on with their lives. Yes, whoever parked like this is a dickhead but who cares? Get over it and move on with your lives


What in God's green does this have to do with being a liberal? Or white? Or that being a "visitor" to the neighborhood gives you the right to park like a freaking MORON? Is this some kind of special out-of-towner, Hannity-watching parking technique? I don't care who you voted for. Go find a parking space like everyone else and MOVE YOUR CAR OFF THE $@&# SIDEWALK.


Quit conplaining

Quit your crying. Commenting on a dumb website is not going to get anything accomplished. Shove your sorries in a sack and stop being angry that these cars are parked there and yours isnt. People hav too much time on their hands, if they are not complaining they are not living. You are the ones who chose to move into the town and you can chose to leave elsewhere with parking too


Preventative snow removal?

Perhaps the owner is protecting the sidewalk so that once the snow storm is done the sidewalk will still be clean. Rather thoughtful. Or the owner just doesn't care about anyone else in the area. Or it's the essence of a philosophy: My house. My sidewalk. My world. Just wait until the owner starts treating other people as though they are his or her property.

All depends

My reaction to this all depends on whether the cars in that picture were parked there or if they were driving down the sidewalk. Parking on the sidewalk in front of someone else's house is barbaric. After all, that side walk belongs to them and if you don't have a space, you probably aren't from the street anyway, so you should go park where you are from. On the other hand, if they are driving down the sidewalk that may be understandable, as who doesn't do that when, like, you just don't want to wait for the guy picking up his girl friend to move after he's blown and you know she's still getting ready, or you think the street may be too narrow, or to prove a point.

Seriously though, people used to drive on the side walk when I was a kid if there was an obstruction in the road (or not, as the mood took them). Boston driving has gotten better, not worse.


The photo is an extension of the sense of entitlement and simple bad driving that many people seem to exhibit around here: U-turns in the middle of busy roads, failure to use turn signals, "blocking the box" at clogged intersections and the famous "Boston left-hand turn" without waiting for oncoming traffic to pass as dictated by the law.

This is freakin unreal!

Speaking as a life-long Bostonian, who thinks this is OK? Not me, for sure. I get that there are a whole lot more cars, proportionate to the number of residents, in Boston now than when I was growing up (much of the time, my family of 11 didn't own a car). But, there's also a whole lot more arrogance!

Sidewalk parking is wrong; so are dangerous streets

It shouldn't be a risk of life and limb to walk anywhere on a city street. Especially the nice, human scaled streets of the North End (where this picture was taken) that were designed long before fast-moving vehicles.

Of course that still does not justify sidewalk parking. The sidewalk should be a refuge, a guaranteed zone of no cars. But that doesn't mean the remainder of the street should be dangerous. As always, it's all about speed. The key to safety is low speed.

That's exactly my point, Matthew.

This is a public safety issue, especially in the winter, when there's often a considerable amount of snow and ice on the ground. It's also agreed that low speed is the best way to go. Drivers in their cars shouldn't be allowed to just come barrelling through those streets, either.

But very European

So it must be good, right? Like them riding bicycles, having huge taxes on fuel, and trying to keep cars out of cities. Parking cars with at least 2 wheels on the sidewalk is common on narrow side streets along with parking scooters on the sidewalks, often blocking them.