Citizen complaint of the day: Leather-lunged parker in the Leather District

A peeved citizen complains about a situation on South Street this afternoon:

This car doesn't have a resident sticker and is in a resident spot. I approached her bc I have a resident sticker and was waiting for a spot to open up. She basically told me "so what, not my problem, I have an appointment". Please send meter maid and ticket! Didn't make the situation any better having my 2 year old witness this lady yelling at me and I never raised my voice at her.

The city replies that justice is done:

Case Resolved. this vehicle was on Beach Street and was tagged for resident parking.



Free tagging: 


What if you were in her

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What if you were in her situation: You needed to get to an appointment. No metered spaces were available. You find an open space, but there's a resident permit sign on the block. The space is just sitting there, but you're not allowed to use it, because it has to sit empty for a theoretical resident who isn't actually there but might show up later. So you take your chances and park, only to be criticized by someone who shows up and wants you to move.

How would you feel?

Also consider this: in virtually all states besides Massachusetts, a resident space still allows nonresidents to park there for a few hours.


We're in Massachusetts, not all other states.Park in a resident spot, get a ticket.Don't like it? Move. And given the small amount of resident parking spots in this city, those residents aren't "theoretical".

Resident Only parking

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is a discriminatory policy of special entitlement to certian people. It's a PUBLIC street, therefore, ANY member of the PUBLIC should have a right to park their car there.

And if having a car is so necessary or important to these "residents", then perhaps the residents should be parking in garages.


It's a sensible system of management of public resources for the common good. When people already know they can't legally park outside of paid lots near public transport facilities or in busy residential neighborhoods, reduction in traffic, cruising for spaces, and gridlock in those areas will result, improving utility of the street for everybody.

The problem with this "system"

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of resident parking is that it punishes those who might have legitimate business in the neighborhood, or may just want to visit somebody.

Unless you see no problem with "reisdents" being allowed to monopolize spaces all day at the expense of others using the PUBLIC streets.

some euro/asian cities you must prove u have an off-street spot

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in order to legally own a car in the city. Plus - many places street parking is about 2-3x as expensive as it is here and they're strict about time limits.

plus - garages in the city are rarely, if ever, completely full - most new condo construction never sells out all the spaces they've allotted for residents... if residents, at least in the neighborhoods where street parking was an issue, were required to have an off-street space, we wouldn't have these issues. would also create demand for people to build high-density automatic parking garages.

think of it - no one in southie would have to shovel out their cars and then guard their spaces - plows could go to the sidewalks... we might even get more space for bike lanes...

We saw little or no sign...

... of free (more than short term), residential, on-street parking in non-rural Japan. Our friends in Osakasayama actually got a ticket after picking us up at the airport because they forgot to promptly move their car to its paid (off street) spot after bringing us (and out luggage) to their house.

Interesting take on things.

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Interesting take on things. Do you feel the same way about handicapped spaces? How about spaces that are limited to a maximum time?

well pretty much every beach

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well pretty much every beach town in MA has the same thing, except they don't have any spots for meters or in many, even private garages, near the beach, much less subway stations. By design.

That's what garages are for

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And besides, you should take the T. In short, if for some reason you needed to drive to the Leather District for an appointment, you're a Masshole if you park illegally. I'm glad she got the ticket.

I'll bite on your claim. Chicago is tough on resident parking.

EDIT- I blame the iPad once again for the spelling error.

Parking in Boston is broken...

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and there is plenty of space if you are willing to pay $30 for it. Not really ideal for anyone trying to make an "appointment".

Boston could, and should do better with parking management. What is really unfortunate is that this problem is quite solvable too. Then again, "we have always been doing it this way"...

Oh and here is the kicker, just about everyone would benefit from it! :(

Not always

It's not that "we have always done it this way," because they haven't. There came a point when the city government realized that there wasn't enough room for the cars in the city - not room for them to park, and not room for them to drive. Decisions were made to discourage cars in the city. It is inconvenient for the car-dependent, but being car-dependent is also a choice, when there's a public transit system available. And no, not everyone would benefit from encouraging car ownership. In fact, it would suck for everyone if the number of cars had kept increasing at the rate it used to.

How would I feel?

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I'd be angry at myself for not planning ahead and leaving enough time to find a proper parking spot.

And if you "planned ahead and left enough time..."

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...Everyone else would be upset with the additional traffic, noise, and pollution you caused cruising for parking. Fortunately (i guess?), you would only be part of the problem. No one would really be able to get angry and single you out for the externalities you contributed!


Externalities ? Think of that

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Externalities ? Think of that every time you buy something at W made in China by coal fired electricity. Planning ahead , fine , but we are trying to have a civilization here. People have to travel. It can't always be done on public transportation. Car parking is scarce, so the person involved rolled the dice , maybe wouldn't have gotten a ticket. Others might have done it different. This scenario happens many times a day. But a hissy fit gets nothing fixed. I remember when leather was leather and that place was a ghost town off hours, housing was cheap apartments. Now I guess it's la da la. What about the people that got displaced? This is much ado about nothing. And I always take the cho cho when going to the city.

Sure, but

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That area is well serviced by public transportation, and there are plenty of parking garages in the area.

What people?

"What about the people that got displaced?" You just said the place was a ghost town. Is "la da la" some kind of mass exorcism or something?

Do you require a critical

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Do you require a critical mass number to have empathy ? There were apts over the stores, people lived there in the apts, not on the street like a block party. A short walk from downtown crossing and the shopping masses, it was sparsely traveled in comparison. Got it ? Next on the list , cho cho, go left , go right , you got them, at South Station , or at Jordan Marsh.

I wondered, too

I did one of those Internet search things on "cho cho." I learned it could be:
* a chocolate and malt ice cream treat
* a language of the Popolocan branch of the Oto-Manguean language family spoken in Mexico
* a term used in Spain that's slang for vagina
* a tropical fruit that is a native of Mexico and Central America
* a Chinese restaurant in Greenwich Village

I suspect, however, that in this case, it's an attempt to be cute with a racial slur.

Really, did you try to figure

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Really, did you try to figure it out by the context it was used ? Racial slur huh, what a mind. What does South Station and Jordan Marsh have in common, mmmmm ? Hey Einsteins ,ever hear of cho cho trains ? You seriously couldn't have expended that effort internet searching to invent a racial slur interpretation ? You are not too bright there , Sparky !

I don't know, maybe park in

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I don't know, maybe park in one of several garages in the Leather District? Or maybe (gasp) take the train to South Station?


Both people felt very similarly, they needed to find a parking space and apparently had a difficult time doing so. Only one of them had a permit.

It's absolutely bizarre that you look at this situation and decide that the person parking illegally is the victim. Do you justify breaking the rules for your own benefit like this?

How about this:

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As a resident, you pay thousands (tens of thousands?) of dollars per year in taxes (either directly as a unit owner or through rent) that gives you access to that street parking. It's part of the all-encompassing deal that you get when you pay the City of Boston, in addition to police, firefighters, schools, infrastructure, etc.

Now you arrive home to find someone from the suburbs sitting in the last available spot in your tiny neighborhood. A situation you encounter frequently, I'm sure. All this when there are multiple lots and garages nearby offering convenient parking for pay.

It's a situation that is out of hand in many of the downtown neighborhoods, and it would be nice if meter maids proactively ticketed people for this instead of needing to file a Citizen's Complaint.

Tens of thousands?

Only if you have a huge property. Boston taxes and MA property taxes in general are pretty low compared to a number of other places (cough NH cough)

Consider this as well: Paying property tax doesn't mean that you own the public commons - it means that you pay for the services that you get, like garbage collection and snow plowing. Non-drivers pay those taxes, too. Boston also gets money from the state that all Massachusetts taxpayers contribute to.

On the other hand, I don't think it unreasonable that the nonresident was asked to move from the resident space by a resident. That's the "talking it out" we all hear about, amirite?

Cough NH cough

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Sorry Swirl, but the property tax I pay in NH for a larger home is considerably less than what I pay in Boston. AND, there is always plenty of parking up North.


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"cough" in NH you aren't paying personal income tax, so there's that.

You are if you work in MA

And thousands of those NH "farm folk" do work in MA. Apparently business-friendly NH isn't able to provide paying jobs for all those people, so they commute down here, pay MA income tax, then commute home and pay NH real-estate taxes. It's a win-win.


Because, last time I checked, my BIL is paying 2x as much in property taxes each year in NH for a home with 2/3 the value of my home. In other words, he's paying $8K a year for a $200K house, and I'm paying $4K a year for a $300K house (assessed value, not market value).

Ditto for the folks I used to work with who live in Nashua.

Also, be honest: how much additional money do you pay in fees for things that are typically included in property taxes, like fire department, and trash collection?

Again, it depends

As a rule, I also find that RE taxes are higher in NH for a comparably assessed house. But, it can depend on where you are.

For example, I've heard that N. Conway is quite high, but if you go to neighboring Bartlett, it's relatively low. And if you go to Groton where the wind turbines are, the taxes are almost zero. So, there are some special cases, but generally I'm with you - NH RE taxes are much higher.

Here is the difference..

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Here in Boston, my Property Tax is just under 7K. Up there it is exactly $2,978.67. 5 acres of land, unlimited parking of course, no income tax, no sales tax and the prices for just about everything is noticeably less. The schools, roads, parks, beaches are in good repair and in winter, when it snows, the plows are out before the storm even begins sanding and salting. The only expense there that I don't have in Boston is I have to take my own trash to the nearest dump and pay $3 per bag.

Again, be honest

Property tax is not a fixed levy on all owners.


If you NH home is only worth $100K, but your Boston home is worth $600K, then you are paying a much higher tax RATE in NH.

Everybody I know who lives up there (extended family) complains that their taxes are much higher than mine are. When you figure in the lower valuation, they are a lot higher.

Valuation is a scam...

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And there it is. Valuation has been a City of Boston/Massachusetts scam for decades. They prop up the supposed value of a home so it justifies outrageous tax bills. They can on occasion say they have not raised the tax 'rate' for years, but that tax bill dollar amount keeps going up. They justify it by raising the amount they say your home is now worth with ever increasing appraisals. It's what they have been getting away with for quite a long time.

You might want to look up the Tregor decision

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Dunno how they do it in New Hampshire (do the assessors have computers up there yet?) but funny games with property values has been explicitly illegal in Massachusetts since 1979 (when the SJC outlawed it in a decision involving a guy who owned a Boston office building).

In one bit of anecdata, I know from first hand knowledge that yearly property tax bills in Boston can go down: I guess there are certain advantages to living in a small house in one of the remoter areas of the city.

SO now we get to the crux of

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SO now we get to the crux of your tax argument. And I'm sure you benefit from NONE of the valuation "scam" when you list your Boston/Mass home.


Valuation has been a City of Boston/Massachusetts scam for decades.

And a taxpayer is very welcome to contest the valuation of their property and file for abatement. And it actually happens, too.

Got a better way to tax real estate?

The Real Difference

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You still live in NEW HAMPSHIRE. Some people may see that as a plus, but clearly a lot more do not.


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tax rates in Boston are lower than all but a handful of municipalities in NH (considerably lower than most of southern NH) - plus there's the residential exemption which would drop you lower than all but maybe a couple odd places in NH. You pay lower taxes because your property values are lower.

I wouldn't have selected NH as an example.

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I would have selected NY or NJ, both of which absolutely blow the doors off MA when it comes to high property taxes (and the additional services that you have to pay for that are included in your property taxes here).

With respect to asking a non-res to move, well, I'm not so sure that is such a wise idea (it might be "right" but it might not be wise) - especially if you have a 2 year old with you. Certainly when the entirely predictable happens (i.e., you get screamed at by a person who you already know is somewhat accustomed to doing whatever is expedient for him or her - the law and others rights/privileges be damned), many people are generally not going to react kindly to the "and I had my 2 year old with me!" plea. Instead, many people would ask why in the world you would bring a 2 year old into a situation like that because there are probably more opportune/safer opportunities to go about initiating a "teaching moment".

For the record, I do not know what this "taking it out" stuff is all about, but I do know that if you initiate a confrontation (even if you choose to call it something else) with someone on the street in a big city, common city street smarts would dictate that you had better be prepared for it to go poorly. For me, that means, among other things, not having my 2 year old with me if I choose to do so. Others may (and obviously do) see it differently. I suspect some of them have suffered for it.

Why ask the question if you're already providing the answer?

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"Instead, many people would ask why in the world you would bring a 2 year old into a situation like that because there are probably more opportune/safer opportunities to go about initiating a "teaching moment"."

I think that many people would probably guess that the resident driver had the 2 year old in the car, was seeking to park, rolled down the window and asked the non-resident to move. That's rather different from fetching your kid from somewhere else so that you can drag them into a confrontation in search of a "teaching moment".

I agree that it doesn't mean

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I agree that it doesn't mean you own the public commons, but at the same time it does entitle you to usage of on street parking. I'm not advocating for putting cones out and saying "this space is mine and is no one else's," but you are entitled to participate in the neighborhood parking program which does designate x number of spaces for cars registered in the neighborhood.

In her situation

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I would feel like an idiot for parking illegally in a resident space and that feeling might well be the only thing I got right that morning or that week.

Really, really wanting to do something that's not permitted by law or common decency, etc., doesn't earn you a free pass to do it. Nor does it get you any sympathy from people who know better.

How I would feel

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I feel like the driver could have paid to park in a garage or planned ahead and used public transportation. Come on.

I mean...

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One probably shouldn't make an appointment in a place where parking is hard to find, and then drive to that appointment, without leaving sufficient time to find a spot. The resident spots are there for residents (such as the person that evidently came just afterwards). It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that a spot is not easy to find. The leather district is like 3 blocks long, too, so it's not like the resident has a ton of options.

Plus: there are meters on Surface Rd and in Chinatown, there is definitely a parking garage right at Surface Rd and Kneeland as well as probably a few others nearby as well, there is a Red Line stop and an Orange Line stop within a couple of blocks, as well as of course the commuter rail and silver line and all the buses and some hubway stations and literally anything you could ever want in terms of alternative ways to get to the Leather District without driving, alone, in a three ton vehicle.

If you want to drive your car to the most public-transit-accessible, dense, downtown area, then be prepared to pay for a garage spot. Or to spend a lot of time looking for a meter. Or to get a ticket. And don't complain when you do.

If I were her

I'd plan ahead. I don't make my emergencies inconvenience others around me.

I was sort of on your "side"

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I was sort of on your "side" until you whined about the gal yelling in front of your 2 year old. No one gives a crap about your baby.

I do.

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No one gives a crap about your baby.

I care about the 2 year old child and I am sure the majority of the person's neighbors care about the child.

- The Original SoBo Yuppie


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There was no "theoretical" resident! There was a real live person with a child right in front of her! Someone who had paid all her registration fees, tickets, excise taxes, to be able to have a shot at parking within a few blocks of her home. And instead of acting compassionately (and according to the law), this person chose to break the law and while she was at it, verbally abuse the resident in front of her child. The resident is not the bad guy here.

What does a child being

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What does a child being witness to the stupid parking dispute have to do with anything? If you subject your child to things you don't want your child to experience then I would question your parenting skills and choices; I don't think I would blame some dizzy parking scofflaw for choosing a ticket over being late for (probably a bikini wax) appointment. No one forced you to stay there. But you forced your brat to stay there.

You have an odd way of

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You have an odd way of looking at things if you consider anyone but the screamer to be "subjecting" anyone to anything.

I find it interesting you

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I find it interesting you called the child a brat. I find nothing in the story that indicated the child misbehaved. Why would you assume the child is a brat?

Actually "brat" is used as a

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Actually "brat" is used as a loving term of endearment where I come from (not New Hampshire), and is spoken with nothing but good-natured humor and irony. You really need to lighten up; maybe get a hobby. Have a sensational day (said with no irony).

You sure are a jerk. Most

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You sure are a jerk. The complainant to the city merely spoke and made a request to the offending parker. That does not warrant being yelled back at. Most every parent cannot afford 24/7 daycare every day. Sometimes, your kid is with you, to and from school or daycare. That's family life. What would you suggest, shipping all kids off to boarding schools?

The rule in Boston

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In Boston or any major city, the moral standard is that anyone can park in any spot on the street, as long as they're willing to pay the tickets they get and endure the occasional tow. That's the system created by the city, which owns the spots. The city is happy if you park illegally, as long as you pay the fines. It's not like moving violations where breaking the law excessively results in losing your license. If you park illegally each and every day like a UPS delivery truck, the city loves you with open arms, as long as you pay all the fines.

Declaring moral outrage and trying to shame the illegal parker because they occupy 'your' spot seems like a low blow.

I'm often in her shoes,

and if I get a ticket for being a non-resident who parks in a resident-only space, I pay it and STFU. Them's the rules: like it or lump it. If you really don't like it, work to change the system. Me, I just budget for it.

been there

Many of the residential parking areas are 10am to 6pm or such. Years ago, i lived in the south end and getting my sticker was much more arduous than now (you can sign up online!), and this neighbor yelled at me for parking in a residential spot without a sticker. I explained that 1. i was a resident, and 2. the meter maids only come here on Thursday evening. That actually made him more angry, I guess he thought he would browbeat me into moving. People are not sane about parking. I am glad that residential parking is better enforced, but using the city connect to target people seems unhealthy to me. Now that i live and work in the same district, you would think it would be great for me. But this women at my work comes out and screams at me for parking in front of her house.

But this women at my work

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But this women at my work comes out and screams at me for parking in front of her house.

Tell her to call the cops. See if they can find a violin small enough for her tiny problem.

I'm gonna pile on, too!

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I'm gonna pile on, too!

If you made an appointment anywhere near South Station, you probably had the opportunity to speak with someone familiar with how difficult/expensive parking is near there.

If you didn't think to ask, which is pretty basic, that's poor preparation and not the fault of the local residents.

If you did ask and despite being warned, decided to risk finding street parking, then don't take your unwarranted optimism or cheapness out on the residents.

When I worked in on Atlantic, we always advised our clients with appointments not to drive, even if they were willing to pay the $15-30. Many of our clients had disabilities, and even if they could find a lot that didn't fill before 9 AM, it might be blocks away and a difficult walk.

Having said that, an able-bodied person can usually find a garage or lot space around there if they budget the time and the money for it.

If you don't do that, well, you're next to South Station, a 10 minute walk from the Orange Line and Green line, a 15 minute walk from the Blue line. So you can access every single T line as well as the Silver Line and the commuter rail.

And while I absolutely love and adore all my car-driving friends **imagine me blowing air kisses here** this is the type of nonsense that makes us non-drivers cranky.

Also consider this: in

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Also consider this: in virtually all states besides Massachusetts, a resident space still allows nonresidents to park there for a few hours.

There are parts of the city that allow for this. It's usually 2 hours during the day and then residents get the spots at night.

So yeah, it has been considered. Thanks for playing, though. No parting gifts today.

Why should I feel any

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Why should I feel any different on seeing an empty resident spot than I would on seeing an empty handicapped spot, or an empty commercial loading spot, or any other kind of reserved spot? The spot's not for me; move on and find one that is.

There are several parking garages in/near the area

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The place where I go for tattoo removal is in the Leather District and I don't even bother trying to park on the street when I go there. I park in a garage and consider it the cost of doing business (so to speak).

Sometimes Resident Parking is Overdone

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Too much Resident Parking - especially during business hours - hurts local businesses.

Also the city tends to over-subscribe issued permits to actual spots ratio.

"hurts local businesses"

They have a choice on where to locate their business. If they're that worried about lack of parking affecting their business, then they need to find a location with parking.

Agree with city does oversubscribe permits.

Park in a garage.

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This isn't that difficult. Her ticket was probably more than the garage spot. So she's an ass and an idiot.

Gotten a ticket lately?

I got one of those BS "within 20 ft of intersection" tickets a month ago (BS in that they randomly enforce it, and if you actually measure that 20ft, you can probably look out your window and see a few cars breaking that law right now).


Even parking for Sox games is cheaper.


So let me get this straight: People who need to park someplace because, you know, they live there and all should be giving way to people who need to park someplace temporarily, so they don't have to pay to park in garages that run on the core business model of providing parking to people who need a short term place to park for a fee?

Seems legit. You've inspired me to start parking in the airport garages instead of on my street (which doesn't require a permit) so people who need to leave their cars while they travel aren't financially burdened by the responsibility of having a car in, or driving into, a city.


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some people would refer to this as a "white person"problem. The humanity, how dare she take a spot that isn't hers! How could this happen in a supposed just and civil world!?

It's a "white people problem"

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It's a "white people problem" to not be able to park in your own neighborhood, while someone who doesn't live there and isn't entitled to park there can? How is that?

Eh, no, it's simply an

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Eh, no, it's simply an awkward phrase attempting to say that it's a problem that only privileged people have. If everyone who lives in Boston and owns a car is privileged, I guess that's correct, but I'm pretty sure that's NOT the case.

So what your saying is we can

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So what your saying is we can pick and choose the laws to which we abide based on our own personal opinion? Sweet.

its called southie pride, sir

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its called southie pride, sir.

So what your saying is we can pick and choose the laws to which we abide based on our own personal opinion?


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At least they approched the individual before complaining to the city. I've gotten up on my soap box about that before, most recently with the Beacon Hill garbage-on-the-wrong-side-of-the-street scandal. And I took a lot of shit for it, funny enough.

Also, it is a good thing that the child saw his/her parent react calmly toward hostility. That's a great life lesson.

Why a city dweller might own and drive a car

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I thought this was an interesting time to get this out regarding "why do you have a car if you live in the city".

I live in the city and LOVED my walk (and walk/T combo) to work at a couple of different jobs over about 15 years.

Last year I got laid off, and after unsuccesfully looking for another job in the city, I found a great job in.... Waltham. So guess what? I have a car and I drive every day now.

There is some decent T, Commuter Rail and Bus service to Waltham, but my 20-30 minute car commute is 60-90 minutes each way by T. I've tried it. And sorry, I'm not going to do it every day. And I don't really plan to move anytime soon.

I find parking near my house. Not always without some effort, but I find it. And occasionally, if I have a quick errand to run in the morning or evening, I now choose to park or double-park in another neighborhood's resident parking or do-what-I-have-to-do for 5 minutes instead of walking/biking for 30 minutes before/after work to get the errand done. I'll add that I try to be respectful and polite because it's the right thing to do, but I'm sure I still inconvenience some folks, sometimes. If I get a ticket, I pay it as the cost of doing business. If I have a longer appointment, I park in a garage, bike, taxi, or walk.

So for all of you who ask why city residents need a car, or why someone would park illegally for 5 minutes, here's one story.

I was in the same situation

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I was in the same situation as you -- but I never parked in another neighborhood's resident parking. Honestly, never. I don't like it when it happens to me, I'm not going to do it to someone else.

That's where Car Share spaces come in

For the suburban shopping trips and car errands, at least.

If you only use a car occasionally, it is much cheaper than owning in urban spaces. Which is why ZipCar can show that each car replaces as much as a dozen street-parked cars (more in college lots).

Take the T ?!?

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The individual taking the residential spot knew what she was doing and decided that possibly paying a ticket was easier than looking for a spot. Ballsy move getting in an argument with a resident who was waiting for the spot, but nothing surprises me these days.
Tired of people saying "just take the T", the T is an option but you don't have to use it. I don't really like the T. If I chose to drive in town, I know what comes along with it. I will be driving around to find a spot, or parking in a garage, I wouldn't be the jerk parking in a residential spots, but we all know there are jerks everywhere.

Time on the T vs. driving time

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On a Saturday morning, it takes me about 10 - 15 minutes to get to South Station by car. It takes me longer than that to stand at a Red Line station to wait for a train.

Well worth the cost of parking in a garage.

does the leather district really need residential parking?

it seems like almost every building has retail on the first floor. must be horrible for the businesses. You can afford the leather district (or beacon hill, or backbay) but you can't afford to garage your car? There are alot of reasons to want a car in the city but its not much different than saying you need to have a car but you can't afford insurance. when I lived in southie, every cheapskate on the south shore would drive up and take the 7 to work. Before the residential parking, it was all meters. Those people parked there to patronize businesses, and its the businesses that are the tax base.