Citizen complaint of the day: So what's the going price for a street parking space?
By adamg on Sun, 10/25/2015 - 1:25pm
A distressed citizen complains about the new ZipCar-only parking spaces on Bunker Hill Street in Charlestown:
Can you tell us who we call at City Hall to buy a spot in front of our house. And how much? We are taxpayers/property owners.
The complaint echoes those from North End residents about the new city car-share program.
The Herald talks to Mayor Walsh, who says the program will actually free up parking spaces by increasing the number of residents who give up cars altogether now that there's a nearby car-share car.
Like the job UHub is doing? Consider a contribution. Thanks!
There is no snow forecasted.
So short-sighted. I don't have the figures, but I'd guess
that one ZipCar allows ten or twenty people to go without owning private cars. Walsh is right: ZipCars make it easier for you to find a residential street parking space, not harder, dumbasses.
People's psychology being what it is, you're going to need to do a lot of convincing that going from a private car to a shared car isn't a step down for people who already own a private car. You'll have that much harder of a time doing it because a shared car is, in fact, a step down from a private car in terms of worst-case availability and even cost.
Say you just found a job out in the suburbs. Nice reverse commute, but no public transit, no one to carpool with, and semi-irregular hours.
Private car? No problem.
Shared car? Either you can't make it in because someone got it before you, or the 19 other people who use it left it in a less than perfect condition, and assuming those are nonissues for a well-run service, you're either paying for your whole workday's worth of time on the car, or you're not guaranteed to have a ride back home at the end of the day.
Now people being semi-rational creatures, will fixate on that worst-case scenario and be loathe to give up on that private car, especially if the live or work in a situation resembling that scenario.
So what do we learn? Taking away spaces for car shares will avoid the wrath of citizens where most of them already don't have or feel they need to have private cars, not in places where it will only benefit the minority that already doesn't have cars.
Live in the city and work in
Live in the city and work in the suburbs? You just described the minority of Boston residents. You want to base policy on what only a few residents are doing?
A big minority
About a third of workers in Boston work outside the city.
Yes, a lot of them live in the southern reaches of the city, and yes, places like Cambridge count as suburbs, but still, a third is a bit more than a few.
Southern neighborhoods and
Southern neighborhoods and Cambridge? Your counter examples are people who won't be impacted by the program at all.
Okay, here's a better statistic
Per the 2009-2013 American Community Survey (5 year estimate) for Charlestown, there is an estimated universe of 9,759 workers age16+. Within that, 4,553, or 46%, use a car, truck, or van to get to work. The easiest number I could get for Chalestown is from 2000, but in that year, 36% worked "outside of county of residence."
The numbers I gave before were off the top of my head from a book I just finished reading, but the numbers I looked up seem to make your argument that much worse.
"outside of county of
That's a lot of text to just say "Cambridge" a second time.
Could be Cambridge
Could be Woburn or anywhere on Route 128. The reality is that the Census Bureau is not going to tell us in which municipality every worker in Charlestown is employed.
Look, I have the common sense to admit when there could be extenuating circumstances. I am still waiting for you to walk back "a few" when 46% of the workers in Charlestown drive to work- and you better believe they ain't driving to Kendall Square.
Well, I apologize
Fine, I'll walk back my comment. You are entirely correct that a non-zero number of people drive to work from Charlestown. I hope that they can all find the strength to move past the loss of two parking spots.
It's a substantial number of
It's a substantial number of people, and there's obviously more than two car rental spots in the city.
And the 46% who drive to work?
Perhaps I'm misreading your handle and you are a bored Mitt looking to ignore a large part of the population since they don't share your values.
The thing is, I don't have a dog in this fight. It's most likely a good thing to add spots for these services, though it was done in a politically bad way. I just don't like the dismissal of a large chunk of people who cannot just migrate to zipcar et al as being "a few."
Perhaps I'm misreading your
That's an ad hominem.
46% vs 47%
I gotta go with the material I'm given. I mean, that's the Census Bureau estimate of the population in Charlestown who drives to work and the number bonehead Romney said would never vote for Republicans being basically within the margin of error of each other. Plus the one letter name difference. How can I not make the comparison?
Still, I will give you that 46% is more than zero, as is 54%, being the working population of Charlestown who does not drive to work.
But no, I do not think you are the former Governor of Massachusetts. Feel better?
How can I not make the
Because an ad hominem isn't a counter argument.
How about your casual way you think 46% is "a few?"
Would a challenge to your math be better than some stupid joke?
It's a drive to Stoneham. From JP. After dropping someone off in Somerville.
"only a few residents are
"only a few residents are doing?"
No. Quite a few, actually. Don't make assumptions.
Cool story, bro. Except it would be foolishly costly
to use a ZipCar for commuting purposes. Nobody uses it that way. What short-term rental companies like ZipCar do is let ten people rent a car for a few hours when they need it, instead of owning and parking ten cars that they infrequently use. See how that's better for resident car owners looking for street parking?
That is the point, it's too
That is the point, it's too expensive for the large number of people in the city who need to use cars to get to jobs that are located outside of the city or away from public transit. People who only need a car for a few hours, rather than for an actual job, are going to be less likely to have a car in the first place.
This is a specious argument. Nobody uses Zipcar for commuting. (Well, it's conceivable that someone might use the new one-way option for commuting within Boston/Brookline/Cambridge/Somerville, but not to the public-transit-free suburbs, because there aren't any one-way drop points there.)
However, we gave up our private car for Zipcar nearly 10 years ago, and have never regretted the decision. I think it's great that the city is sponsoring cars in underserved neighborhoods.
No it isn't
You've made my point for me: it's not a done deal that putting in the car share will free up spaces on the block precisely because the car share doesn't solve the commuting problem for some (possibly large, I don't know) fraction of folks who need to park their own car on that block.
Is your argument that shared
Is your argument that shared cars should get zero space because "some" drivers would rather not use shared cars? Boston drivers really are the worst, most entitled people.
more fuel on the fire
Boston cyclists have us beat hands down :-)
You only think that
Because you're holding drivers to a different standard.
But really, there's no comparison:
I think his argument is...
I think his argument is that some sort of analysis should have been done before the program was rolled out.
Like a poll
Of local residents within a few blocks of the spaces asking
1. Do you own a car
2. How often do you use it
3. Would you use the zipcar if we put one on the block?
Those are all three important questions to ask to get a fine grained understanding of all the screwy corner cases in that, or any, neighborhoods. You want to at least have good numbers if you want to believe that good governance consists of doing the most good while doing the least bad and that you're actually living up to that.
500-1,000 convincing reasons
The economics of car ownership are convincing enough for people who only need a car occasionally.
My family has used Zip Car for years
Just as it makes sense to have a few dedicated cab stands around, although cabs are privately owned, providing car share parking in a few places also makes sense; both take more cars off the street than they add.
I believe I've sung their praises on UHub before.
When my partner had the Dart in the city and we had a driveway, ZipCar meant that we did not need to own a second car, parking it on the street.
Now that the Dart lives in CT, and our jobs have changed, ZipCar means we do not have to own a car here, at all. We no longer have a driveway, so that's one more street spot that we've avoided using.
We use it for standing medical appointments, and the occasional trip to Home Depot or Ikea. We commute, in my partner's case to the technical 'burbs (Somerville), by T.
That may be true...
I am a long time Zipcar customer, too. In my neighborhood, there is a commercial parking garage right across the street from the 4 spaces that were recently converted from meter spaces to Enterprise's exclusive use.
RIght across the street.
So it's clearly not a matter of making spaces available for these services; it's a matter of making them available cheaper than the market rate. And, given the long-term success of Zipcar, the business model works fine with market rate parking spaces and is not dependent upon subsidized ones.
These companies do not help
These companies do not help people who need cars to get to their jobs that are not near public transit. The fees are much higher. This is a private company taking control of what was public space that individuals could rent. Calling people names doesn't help you.
It's an indirect effect. More
It's an indirect effect. More ZipCars means people who have a car but don't need it to commute every day can get rid of it and use ZipCar when they occasionally need one instead. This frees up parking spaces for people who DO need their cars to commute.
The idea is not that people who need a car to commute will use ZipCar instead. No one has ever claimed that.
People who need cars only
People who need cars only occasionally are less likely to have a car in the first place before these car rental programs.
That is true, but the
That is true, but the availability of car share cars is often what allows people to finally sell that car that they are clinging onto "just in case." I do hear from people that they would sell their car as they only use it once a week or less, but there are often no ZipCars available at the times when they would need one.
Based on the number of people who left their car parked on the street for weeks at a time last winter, it's clear that there still are plenty of people who could get by without owning one as long as there was easy access to a ZipCar or other shared car.
Show me exactly the study that proves this. You're speaking out of your rear end.
Ask and ye shall receive:
Ask and ye shall receive: http://www.accessmagazine.org/articles/spring-2011/impact-carsharing-hou...
The Zipcar Space Saver
What are the chances the same people who vocally oppose these Zipcar spots are also the ones who loudly defend winter space savers as fair and just?
Are you really comparing this
Are you really comparing this BS to winter space savers?
Yes. Yes, I think he is.
Would you prefer one Zipcar space or would you rather the X number of people in your area who use it instead of buying a car to be fighting over parking spaces with you? Do the math.
False choice. People who use
False choice. People who use cars to commute daily aren't going to use rental cars anyway, unless it becomes less expensive.
I think you're forgetting
I think you're forgetting that those occasional car users that no longer need a car (because of ZipCar) are currently storing their barely-used vehicles in spaces that you (the commuter) want to park in when you get home. If they get rid of their cars, you will have more options.
Why would someone use Zip Car when they already own a car?
Many reasons I have
1) My car is a 2-door convertible. If I need to haul stuff home from Ikea, I get a ZipVan or ZipCar SUV. ZipCar has both convenience and availability over renting a UHaul or truck from Home Depot, etc.
2) I was dropped off at Logan by a friend and when I got back a week later, nobody was available at the time I arrived to pick me up (and if I had been delayed they wouldn't have had to wait either). Rather than UberX (because I refuse to use Uber on principle) or a taxi, I got a ZipCar One-Way from the airport (located at the Avis stand) and drove it to the drop-off about 2 blocks from my house and for far less cost than a taxi, less hassle, less waiting, etc.
3) My car went into the shop for an emergency repair to the engine and the shop had already reserved its loaners to other customers. I still needed to run errands and get back to the dealership when the car was repaired. Fortunately I had a friend that could help with getting to/from the dealership but I got a ZipCar for the errands.
Why Zipcar for car owner?
We own one car. Sometimes one of us needs a car when the other is using it. Zipcar is great for that.
Why Zipcar for car owner?
We own one car. Sometimes one of us needs a car when the other is using it. Zipcar is great for that.
Quite the contrary
I think it's much more likely that people who have a principled objection to exclusive private use of what ought to be a shared public resource take the consistent position that it's not OK when Enterprise Car Rental does it any more than it's OK when Grandpa does it in front of his house.
You can be opposed to both space savers AND the Zipcar spots on the basis that it "reserves" a public resource. What's hypocritical (and the point of my above post) are the people who oppose zipcar yet think it's perfectly fine to save their own spot.
Anyway, Zipcar is paying the city, correct? The cone and lawn chair crowd takes the public resource without giving anything extra back to the public which is normally the biggest objection to them.
Couple of points...
I don't know about Boston but in at least Brookline the town has rented public parking spots to the Zipcar and that is common in other cities. Provided the city is getting a good amount of cash for these spots I don't see the objection -- there are lots of public areas you can rent or lease for a fee.
I agree with you about calling "Car Sharing" a rental which is what it is.
Zipcar has had spots in the city lot at Forest Hills for years.
Just as some businesses get designated loading/unloading zones, and cab stands exist, sometimes curb space gets put aside for reasons beside parking privately owned cars. All of which keeps the city functioning.
Zipcar increases street parking availability
When people realize that they can use Zipcar, they tend to sell their cars and use Zipcar, as it is far more cost effective for occasional use.
That means that each Zipcar space results in 15-20 vehicles being removed from the streets.
That's 45 to 60 spaces, right there. http://bostonparking.spplus.com/zip-car.html
In college settings, schools save even more campus parking by putting these in (most students with a car on campus are not commuting daily, so people tend to leave them at home if a zipcar is available).
One cone only saves 1 space for one car. One zipcar spot is 15-20 vehicles not sitting for long periods of time, taking up space, not being used much. Take your pick.
When people realize that they
Has anyone seen any studies done on how many cars Zipcar does, in fact, take off the road, or are we just taking what Zipcar says about it as fact?
I gave you a citation
Here's another one, where an independent UC Berkeley (not the music school) investigation found 9-13 cars taken off the road by carsharing program members (not just Zipcar members).
There are several links in this article, which is why I'm citing it and not the original research that it links to. (the direct link is also a .pdf, which can be problematic)
Here are some more from the UC Berkeley Report:
Your first "citation" was a
Your first "citation" was a link to a parking company's own information.
Yes and no
They linked out as well.
In any case, the UC Berkeley numbers are certainly reliable, as they actually asked people if they got rid of their cars after joining car sharing programs.
However, that "company's own number" isn't far off the independent survey, anyway. Zipcar's 15-20 (which includes some huge on-campus college parking numbers) nearly overlaps the 9-13 cited by the Berkeley researchers (which did not include students living on campus).
"They linked out as well."
"They linked out as well."
They linked out to zipcar's website. Nice try.
Your problem is ...
A better link was provided, as requested. Instead of bitching about the first one, go read the second.
Your second link doesn't
Your second link doesn't focus on Boston and many them are quite old and and one only studied the first year.
"not the music school"
"not the music school"
Did you really think most of us don't know there's a UC Berkeley and a Berklee College of Music, and that they are different schools?
Thanks - I'm convinced.
Thanks - I'm convinced.
Where are the studies that
Where are the studies that say using city space and money for free storage of private vehicles is a good idea? You won't find such a thing. Car sharing is far from perfect but it's better than the stupid idea of everyone in a city having their own car.
It's in the same place as the study that says
that having substandard intraurban, commuter and intercity rail are good ideas.
My math differs from yours.
By my math, taking 15-20 vehicles off the street should free up 3 to 5 parking spaces, since the ratio of registered vehicles to on-street spaces in my neighborhood is 5:1.
A deliberately broken process....
From the project website: http://www.cityofboston.gov/transportation/driveboston.asp
Translation: In evaluating the program, we are going to count only the benefits (to the car rental companies and to their customers) and completely ignore the costs (on local merchants and residents who are losing parking spaces). The evaluation criteria were set up so that success and expansion is a foregone conclusion.
Nobody is losing a parking space
Again, Zipcar has a long track record of creating spaces because people get rid of cars or leave them with mom and dad.
The general public is losing
The general public is losing parking spaces where they can temporarily park their personal cars. A private company is gaining control of parking spaces. It's pretty simple. These car rental services do not help people who need their cars to commute daily because they have reverse commutes or their jobs are away from public transportation, which is a sizable number of people in Boston.
No it isn't simple
The Public is netting 8-12 spaces for each of those spaces.
That's called an investment.
But, hey, if you like circling around when you get home from work because some people have cars they use once a week sitting there, keep it up.
If you can't understand how eight to twelve fewer cars just sitting there hurts your chances of finding parking when you get home from work, I can't help you.
"The Public is netting 8-12
"The Public is netting 8-12 spaces for each of those spaces."
What recent studies analyze Boston's parking and commuting needs and show that the city going to get 8-12 spaces?
"That's called an investment."
No, it's called leasing public property to a company so they can charge additional fees in order to gain a profit.
"If you can't understand how eight to twelve fewer cars just sitting there hurts your chances of finding parking when you get home from work, I can't help you."
Again, find studies that take into account Boston's needs and show we are going to get 8 to 12 fewer cars in this city.
Two hours before your post
The information that you seek was posted above.
I can't wait for all these
I can't wait for all these occasionally used cars to magically disappear, so as to free up all these projected spots. What's the rate of return all knowing one?
Three hours before you posted
Citation is above.
Your'e a big fan of citations, so please pony up.
Four hours ago. See above.
Search page for "Berkeley".
Berkeley is not Boston
Berkeley is not Boston. The patterns of work / residence / shopping are not directly comparable. The demographics are not comparable. The commute patterns are not comparable.
I don't understand this
I don't understand this argument. Are you really disputing the claim that there is a population of people in Boston that own cars and store them on the street but only use them occasionally? And that a significant number of these people would choose to give up their cars if there were some sort of "shared" car in the neighborhood that they could pay to use by the hour?
This just seems like common sense to me in ANY city, so really I'm inclined to ask for YOUR citation showing that it is not the case.
I'm not making a claim
I'm not making any claim.
Some people are making the claim that the presence of these car sharing services frees up some large number of parking spaces -- according to some, each additional rental car available saves 8-12 parking spaces. I'm asking them to back up that claim.
Since in the downtown neighborhoods the ratio of resident stickers to resident spaces is 5:1, that means that for each 5 cars taken off the road, you free up one parking space. Which means that to free up 8 spaces, 40 people would need to give up cars. I'm asking to see the data that says an incremental rental car takes 40 cars off the road.
not to mention
the numbers keep changing throughout the comments here: 15-20 went to 9-13 now 8-12.
Proof that no one knows and data can be what you want to read out of it.
Survey was done NATIONALLY by Berkeley, not IN Berkeley. The Boston area, which was an early adopter of car sharing, is included.
It really really helps to actually read the citations you ask for.
Maybe, maybe not...
Zipcar has operated in my neighborhood for a long time. I have been a happy Zipcar customer for 10 years. Zipcar has historically used commercially rented spaces for their cars. Now, around the corner from me, 4 metered spaces have just been converted to Enterprise Car Rental spaces. As a resident that doesn't have any effect on me, but I suspect it does have an effect on the businesses on that street. And, as I said elsewhere in my thread, maybe that's a good thing on the whole, maybe it's not. But nobody asked any residents or local businesses. Which is particularly galling given that we, the taxpayers, pay for a staff of neighborhood liaison people at City Hall whose job is to do exactly that.
Two Stories From Philadelphia — Where They Charge $150 Per Year
It's a somewhat different scenario in Philadelphia with parking spaces for electric vehicles, but there's a similar result — previously public right-of-way parking spaces, turned over to exclusive use by certain vehicles. It reminded me of two stories I'd read in "The Philadelphia Enquirer":
Electric vehicles can get special Phila. parking space
... and also ...
How the rich steal parking spots from you
Hopefully, Boston is getting more money than that from ZipCar — and, residents should be glad this isn't Baltimore, where things could be worse!
This is for individual owners
This is not for a system that frequently results in reduction of cars owned, and prevents people from needing to buy a car.
Car sharing spaces are an investment in parking space. Just ask the Universities why they hand their spaces over for free.
Please stop promoting Hertz's and Enterprise's narrative by referring to their short-term car rental business as "car sharing"
Private property owners
Many private developers have provided spaces for free to Zipcar as an amenity to make their buildings more attractive to tenants. Which is entirely their business decision.
And it might very well make sense for the city to do it, too. But there hasn't been any meaningful analysis or community involvement. That's really the objection here: that it wasn't thought through, and not necessarily that it's a bad idea.
I am surprised to learn that there are off st. spots in Philly
that are going for that kind of money. I didn't know that the real estate market there was that frothy.
Were these spots put up for public auction?
Was there a fair and open bidding process on them, and the highest bidders chosen? Can private citizens also rent personal parking spots on the street now too?
Maaaahty has really opened himself up to some lawsuits here.
Since when is that actionable?
The city gives out permits for funeral homes to commandeer public parking and obstruct travel lanes to double park vehicles all the time. Isn't that selling space?
That's only one example. Here's another: Try to go use a soccer field when a team or program is scheduled to use it - you will hear directly that athletic field space in a public park is rented out as well.
What about charging rent for space in public garages? That's done, too. I remember hearing that some schools are renting out parking spaces for nights and weekends. What about that?
And what about churches that
And what about churches that take over public land for parking even though they pay $0 in property tax?
Can private citizens also
Yes. You can pay the city for a permit to exclusively use a public spot for a moving truck or for a contractor. Any resident can do that if you pay the fee. This is no different.
Zipcar already has dedicated spaces in public parking lots in the city.
You don't have to like the policy, but this really isn't anything new.
The permits are for limited use
Contractors can only use the spaces for vehicles that actually need to be at the site, e.g., for a dumpster, for truck-mounted equipment, etc.
Yes, I know that many people abuse this process just to give the contractor a convenient parking space, but, if this is called to the attention of the City, they will revoke the permit.
The whole car entitlement thing is getting so tiresome. If you own a car and insist on always being able to park everywhere for free do us all a favor and go move to Rehobeth. If you want to own a car and live in the city then you need to accept that parking/storage is going to be a hassle and an expense.
Equal treatment is all we ask.
Nobody's asking to park for free.... the issue is whether Enterprise has been given the inside track to getting a better deal than I could get.
Aren't you getting a great deal already?
As in, getting to store your vehicle in public space for free?
Maybe they should mark off spaces and charge for them. It might solve that "five permits per space" problem pretty quickly.
I'm not getting to store my vehicle for free
I don't get to store my vehicle for free. I rent a parking space. And, if I want to park it on the street, I get to throw the dice and drive around and take a 1 in 5 chance of getting a space, i.e., take the same chances with a shared public resource as anyone else.
I like the idea of charging for a permit.
I can also see this running up against some incredible resistance.
Try charging for parking
Try charging for parking permits or suggesting that only assholes use space savers and you will see that a whole lot more than "nobody" is asking to park for free. People are getting free vehicle storage all year yet look at all the complaining in these comments!
A couple of Enterprise rental spots appeared on Dot Ave near Ashmont Station with absolutely no notice to local residents.
Zip Car Drivers
I live across the street from an auto body shop who is basically kept in business by repairing zip cars . . They always have at least 5 to 10 zip cars being worked on at any time for accident damage . This leads me to wonder just how many accidents daily are cause by zip car drivers and if the people renting them are even qualified to or licensed to drive .
One data point
I am a Zipcar customer in addition to using my own car (Our family needs about 1.2 cars and we own one.) My last accident was 25 years ago.
2nd Data Point
We gave up our car for about 4 years. I was a Zip Car member for that time. It was OK. You have to have a license in order to be a member.
I will also say that I did and do whatever I can to avoid and or give Zip Cars and their drivers more space than I would non-Zip Car drivers. That is simply due to the fact that these are drivers that (and I hypothesize here) drive less than those who own or lease their car. And yes, I am stereotyping and choosing to let 1 or 5 or 10 bad apples sour the remainder of the barrel. I had a Zip Car left turn in front of me with too little space for them to do so and I was lucky/skilled/practiced enough in emergency braking to ride my moto through and remain upright.
3rd data point
Zip Car member since the year they started, never had an accident.
Never had an accident while I was a ZipCar member either.
My owned car has been hit by others 3 times through no fault of my own.
I guess I should go back to being a ZipCar but I despise not having car available when I need it. And yes, I know how to plan ahead to sign up for one, but it doesn't account for needing to get across the city in a last minute and timely fashion (i.e. not the T).
Here's an idea
If you need to have your car parked right by your house, live somewhere with a garage or driveway. Stop expecting public space to be for your own exclusive personal use.
There huge numbers of people
There huge numbers of people who need cars to get to jobs outside of the city or places not serviced by public transportation. A large amount of housing in Boston is not near public transportation.
You response is simply to sell public property to private profit driven companies.
That space belongs to the
That space belongs to the taxpayers of Boston,
That space belongs to the taxpayers of Boston
...whose elected representatives have decided to make a little cash off the space
... without consulting the taxpayers in any of the ways that are normally used to solicit public input prior to conversion of public resources to private use.
Once again, it's entirely possible that this is a great idea, one that is overdue, and one that would have been enthusiastically supported by all.
It's also entirely possible that, had there been proper process, and had more voices been heard from, an even better solution would have emerged.
That's the core complaint here: not the spaces themselves, but the cowboy shit.
An even better solution? How's that ADA compliance going for you in Beacon Hill? The one that was opened up to public opinion and consulted upon instead of just going ahead and doing it? How are the blind and neighbors in wheelchairs doing in getting around these days? Uh huh...of course, you're on the wrong side of that one too.
We elect the city council/mayor so that we don't *have* to always be consulted on operation of the city. We can also throw them out or replace them should we not like how they run the city and we can also undo the things they did. It's not "cowboy shit". It's their job.
All the public opinion in the world didn't open a burrito joint in Beacon Hill. Where were you to complain about that "cowboy shit"? Oh right, it benefited you then to ignore everyone's opinion in keeping the restaurant in the neighborhood because *you* didn't think it "fit". So, now we're supposed to shame the city for making a "cowboy shit" decision...because they don't want to negotiate with you on ADA compliant curb cuts or because they've made it possible to put some ZipCars in Beacon Hill where there's basically no private parking for them to buy and an unmet need for common carrier services like the kind ZipCar provide.
Yeah, "public discussion" when the NIMBYs will side with you...but full cowboy when public opinion isn't in your favor. Classic Beacon Hill.
People in wheelchairs are
People in wheelchairs are getting around Beacon Hill the same way they have for the past few decades, since curb ramps exist at every corner.
The recent controversy was over the plan to add bumpy tactile pads to the ramps, since a smooth transition makes it hard for blind people to know when they're entering the street.
That is untrue. There are
That is untrue. There are many streets in Beacon Hill that still lack curb ramps at all. Yes, some have older ones that aren't up to modern standards, but there are still many streets that have none.
On the wrong side?
That's not what the judge says
(another not requiring paid subscription: link)
That's utter bullshit. I personally know a lot of the people involved, all of whom loved the restaurant, were frequent patrons and enthusiastic supporters of Julie and Betty. There was a lot of phoning around to landlords and property owners and calling in of favors trying to find her a space.
Contrary to your claim, there was absolutely an orderly public process and not all 'cowboy' anything: a series of zoning and licensing meetings at which the public had a chance to speak.
The question before the regulators was not, "should this restaurant be allowed to open?" it was "should a property owner be allowed to convert part of his building, located on a residential street in the interior of the neighborhood, from residential to restaurant use, forever? (Julie was going to be his first tenant.)
The opinion of the neighbors as expressed by the neighborhood organizations was that, if we were to argue for an exception to the long-standing principle of opposing the conversion of residential to commercial space, just because the applicant was someone we all liked, we would be (justifiably) accused of playing favorites and, therefore, lose a lot of credibility when we tried to stick to consistent principles in the future.
When his bid to gain a zoning variance failed, Julie decided to pitch it as "a bunch of Beacon Hill snobs trying to push her out." This left a lot of the people who had been Julie's supporters feeling, as you might imagine, rather personally betrayed.
The important point you
The important point you forgot to add is that that space USED to be commercial at one point in time, but was converted to residential. If you look at the design of it, it actually makes much more sense as a commercial space. So, it's not like residents were being asked to allow an apartment to be turned into a business. They were being asked to allow a space initially built for commercial use to be turned back into a commercial space. That seemed like a very reasonable request to me, but since Beacon Hill residents are clutching their pearls anytime anything might change from what it currently is right now (as if everything is perfect right now), that didn't happen.
Yes, and before that, it was a farm field, and before that, a wooded hillside, and before that, it was buried under a mile of ice. Heck, at one point it was nothing but hot lava.
The space has been residential for decades; the former business use is ancient history and of bearing on the question.
Now you're comparing apples
Now you're comparing apples and oranges. That particular space in that particular building was designed as and was a commercial space. So it seems appropriate that it could become one again.
But it wasn't a commercial space at the time of the application
The space was once a residential space, then it was converted into commercial space perhaps 100 years ago, prior to the district having been zoned residential. As such, the barber shop was grandfathered in as a nonconforming use in a residential neighborhood. When the barber shop closed (I'm guessing around 25 years ago) the owner had the right to continue renting the space commercially, but he chose not to exercise that right, and therefore let the space revert to residential. At that point, the fact that he space had once had a barbershop in it became irrelevant: the district is zoned residential.
The owner then applied for a variance -- as any of us have the right to do -- to allow a commercial tenant into his zoned residential building. A variance is a special exemption to the rules; the variance process is designed to give some relief to people who are suffering a hardship as a result of the zoning and not to give some random property owner a windfall. The city heard from the owner, the neighbors, and interested members of the public and determined that the existing zoning was not creating a hardship for the owner, and denied the variance.
The main neighborhood organization has a track record of consistently opposing the conversion of residential space to commercial use in the residential-zoned parts of the neighborhood. They operate on the basis of well defined and clearly articulated principles, which is in party why they have credibility. Once you start abandoning principles and deciding case-by-case whether you like the applicant or not, then you lose all credibility.
"The main neighborhood
"The main neighborhood organization has a track record of consistently opposing the conversion of residential space to commercial use in the residential-zoned parts of the neighborhood."
This is what I have a problem with, then. Given the fact that this space used to be commercial, I would make an exception for this space and spaces like it. Maybe I wouldn't allow all types of businesses in these kinds of spaces, but certainly I'd consider ones that don't have a ton of negative impacts on the residents who live around it.
Eye on the big picture
If you walk around the North Slope, you'll see that a very large percentage of houses at one time had commercial space in the basement or first floor - space that is now used as apartments.
One of the primary objectives here is to maintain a balanced, mixed-use downtown, with a predominantly residential core away from the main commercial streets. That is reflected in the zoning regulations and the actions of the city government, as well as in the voting and public input from the neighbors.
Commercial tenants are almost always going to be able to outcompete all but the richest potential residential tenants.. what lobbying outfit isn't going to jump at the chance to convert a townhouse near the State House into nice office space, for example.
So, if you let that one formerly-commercial now-residential space be turned back into commercial space, there'll be no basis to oppose the reconversion of probably 100 or more other little spaces all over the north slope, resulting in a significant shift of the interior of the hill from residential to commercial.
There is a public garage right across the street from the Cambridge Street spaces that were just converted to Enterprise's. And another one right up the street. Zipcar has cars at both locations; I know because I've been a Zipcar customer for a long time.
Taxpayers own squat. The
Taxpayers own squat. The City of Boston owns the space, and nothing "owns" the city.
I think what most people want
I think what most people want to know is if they to can purchase an on street parking spot for their business, or personal use? Or are they just available for car rental companies to purchase/lease?
Businesses can, can't they?
Aren't taxi stands and valet drop-offs potential open-to-anyone spaces?
Im not sure, that is why im
Im not sure, that is why im asking. I know valet companies take over metered spaces at a particular time of the day, usually @ 5 pm when a restaurant opens.
To clarify i was more interested in if this was available to a smaller buisness like a dry cleaner or something that people are quickly in/out of? Maybe to eliminate some of the double parking f-show that occurs in certain parts of the city. It sounds like it could be a good idea, but would take years to actually see the results. Unless of course people are already selling their cars.
The public owns the space
The public owns the space and has delegated to the City of Boston the authority to manage the space on the public's behalf; the City government only exists because the public has created it and continues to endorse it and grant it powers. That's a pretty fundamental attribute of the whole Western participatory democracy thing.
wow.. what a bunch a cry babies on this thread.
Waaaah the city is taking spaces for me to park MY car
Waaaah the city didn't tell me about it
Waaah waaah waaaah.
Let's change the scenario.. would we still be complaining about these spaces taken up if it was a Hubway station instead? I don't remember people complaining like this when the Hubway stations went in. Yet Hubway stations can occupy 2-3 parking spots per installation.
It's the same deal folks.. the city promoting alternative means of transportation other than personal car ownership.
One key difference
Well yes, some people did complain, but more importantly, there's a huge difference between the Hubway rollout and this. There are Hubway spaces in my neighborhood. Prior to the spaces being selected, I recall some public input, engagement of the neighborhood residents' and businesses' groups, discussion as to where the spaces should go, who would be impacted, etc.
Once again, it's entirely possible that these spaces for the car rental companies are a good thing. The issue is the "let's shoot from the hip without encouraging thought" lack of sane process.
You shouldn't start your
You shouldn't start your posts off like that.
Hubway was a little different because it was offering a different mode of transportation. These are offering the same mode of transportation at an increased cost. People who need a car only occasionally are less likely to have a car in the first place.
Where do these cars go during a snow emergency? Do the users still have access to them during a snow emergency? No that you should be driving during a snow emergency.
My experience with ZipCar in the winter
I haven't seen what they do in public lots myself, but they are some of the first cars dug out of private lots and without burying their neighbors or shoving the snow in problematic locations. ZipCar parking maintenance staff tend to be a very conscientious group, so I would bet that these will be really well kept spaces and parking near them would probably even be beneficial to other drivers.
... it was summer when the program was set up and nobody thought of that.
89 comments and counting
Just put the damn things at meters, remove the meters and leave the resident spots alone.
The problem with these two
The problem with these two specific spots, is there's about 100 new units of housing going in at the armory a few blocks away with very little consideration for what is already a parking nightmare on Bunker Hill Street. In this specific case, I would have put the Zipcar spots in the school parking lot a block away. Or even in front of the armory where new people will be moving in and making decisions on usefulness of a car. I hardly see 12 residents around here giving up their car because Zipcar has two new random spots.
In many neighborhoods, the
In many neighborhoods, the ratio of meters to resident spaces is already tipped way too far in favor of residents.
But you don't know this
But you don't know this neighborhood. There are no meters on that street at all. There's some 2-hour visitor spots. The reason why there's no meters is there's no businesses anyone would drive a car to. There's a coffee shop, dry cleaners, nail salon, (oh and lots of funeral homes) It's why putting in spots for Zipcars seems disruptive. It doesn't fit with the residential neighborhood. It's bad enough there's a bus stop every other block (why soclose?) taking up parking spots.
When I lived a block away, I used to drive around this neighborhood once a week at 8 pm to move my car for street cleaning. I'd end up parking 15 minutes away. There's a very bad parking crunch in this area, and there's almost no off-street parking available in Charlestown since the area is so old.
The Zipcar stats sound nice in a vacuum, but in this specific case, there were better places to locate the Zipcar spots, namely the school lot.
Impact on businesses?
That's what's been done in some places. It's a loss to the retail businesses whose customers can no longer use that metered space.
Business who truly do want to serve their customers, can find ways for their customers to park. Savenor's in Beacon Hill and Whole Foods in South End both offer parking for their customers. There you have an example of a small business and a large one doing it. I've also seen several restaurants who offer free parking during the duration of your dining at local lots. I find it very hard to buy the "impact" on business argument. When businesses can make a direct correlation between lack of parking spots and their profits, then I may agree. In the case of the Zipcars their business will be impacted anyway since Zipcar users will most likely be residents.
I'm really not understanding the argument here
At the end of the day, a big part of the job of government is to manage common resources.
In the case of on-street parking, there are at least four constituencies I can think of: local residents who want to park cars on the street, whose interests are served by abundant resident-only parking; local businesses who want space for their customers to park, whose interests are served by abundant meter spaces with a short time limit; car commuters whose interests are served by abundant meter parking with long time limits, and people who don't own cars, whose interests are served by the city charging as much as possible for parking spaces.
Any sane process for managing on-street parking, including allocation of visitor / resident / meter spaces, time limits on meters, spaces allocated to taxi stands, valet services, car rental services, parking hours, price on meters, etc. needs to obtain input from all constituencies, all of whom know they aren't going to get everything they want, but all of whom will accept an outcome in which they have been heard and the process was fair. That process results in durable, stable solutions. Anything else just pisses people off.
"needs to obtain input from all constituencies"
Whoops. Looks like that wasn't done here.
Let's clarify, please
Someone is complaining that he cannot park his PRIVATELY OWNED CAR on PUBLIC PROPERTY because a different PRIVATELY OWNED CAR is on PUBLIC PROPERTY.
Every curbside parking space in the city is the designated use of public property (a part of the street) for an exclusive group (only people parking cars; not used by pedestrian et al)
The feelings, they hurt.
It's not exactly public
It's not exactly public property when a private company acquires them and rents them out only to people willing to use their service. Whereas public parking spaces are for all publicly owned cars with the money going to the city, these services are only for people willing to rent a car from them with the money going to the company.
Your post, it fails.
Corporations are people, my friend
That company pays taxes (probably more than you do) to keep the city running. I imagine whatever they make off of the two spots in question aren't going to cover their tax burden for the year.
Also, if renting out the use of a car makes their use somehow different than the average joe's (even though it's average joes from that very neighborhood that are renting out those cars for their personal needs), then UberX people shouldn't be allowed to park in that neighborhood...or cabbies...or livery...etc. And if we start telling every person with a driver that they can't have the help parking in Beacon Hill...
As I wrote in my earlier posts on this, many companies and non-profits have special parking arrangements with the city, be it for loading zones, cab stands, duck boats, dropping/picking up clients, and so on. They pay for them, in rent, fees, or -- just like property owning individuals-- city taxes, probably more than you individually pay for your curb space. Sometimes zones are designated just because it's a good idea; parking is pretty restricted around funeral homes, at least in JP.
This is just a reasonable way of sharing a public resource.
These are public spaces being used by the public, in the person of Zip Car users. The drop-offs in front of the New England Conservatory or around the BU Medical Center are also public spaces being used by the public. Just because you are not part of the public demographic being served at that moment does not mean it's not still public-- after all, nothing is preventing your from renting a Zip Car, going to a concert, or having a friendly visit to ambulatory care.
Just because I am not part of the public being served when your car takes up public space does not mean that space is not still public. It does not matter if you are delivering a pizza and thus profiting by that spot, or using it to store all the crushed Cheerio dust on the planet as my friends with toddlers do. I don't play golf, but I am not slighted by the existence of the public Franklin Park Golf Course.
You seem to be suggesting that car-sharing spots do not serve the public. Who do you think is sharing cars?
"As I wrote in my earlier posts on this, many companies and non-profits have special parking arrangements with the city, be it for loading zones, cab stands, duck boats, dropping/picking up clients, and so on."
This is different, because these are organization which are paying for space based upon the locations of their storefronts and buildings. Zipcar doesn't have a major storefront that needs parking like this, it does not have a single location.
"They pay for them, in rent, fees"
They pay to control them, and then they pass those costs onto their customer base.
"This is just a reasonable way of sharing a public resource."
No one is sharing anything. People are paying a private company to rent cars for an allotted time. It's just like the first come first serve model that metered cars had before, only now it's a private company collecting the rent.
"Just because you are not part of the public demographic being served at that moment does not mean it's not still public-- after all, nothing is preventing your from renting a Zip Car, going to a concert, or having a friendly visit to ambulatory care."
It is a private enterprise that people are able to pay money for a service. The private enterprise sets the price, rather than the city which is truly represented by public servants.
"I don't play golf, but I am not slighted by the existence of the public Franklin Park Golf Course."
A private company does not control or extract rent from people going to the Franlin Golf course. It is managed by the city. These spots are managed by a private profit driven company.
"You seem to be suggesting that car-sharing spots do not serve the public. Who do you think is sharing cars?"
They are managed by a private company and serve their clientele, rather a city managing the spot and serving.
The public resource being
The public resource being shared is the curb. I did not mean the Zip Cars are the public resource, and I think that was clear.
The city of Boston is trying to share public property-- a part of the street-- amongst multiple constituents. I'm a constituent, ITOA patrons are, residents who have flowers delivered are, party trolley patrons are, people with handicap plates are, and so on, and the city is trying to manage the reasonable use of the curb for everyone. They are not selling the curb to Zip Car to build an Iron Curtain around it and form an evil curb monopoly. The city is renting a fraction of a public space to Zip Car, just as it rents a fraction of a public space to the Duck Boats. Zip Car will then offer a service to the public and, like the Duck Boats, pass along the cost of the rental to their clients. Not to you, but to their clients.
The Duck Boats are also managed by a private company, as are the following:
Charter bus companies, which ALSO have multiple curbside locations for their use in the city.
Taxis and other liveries, which ALSO have multiple curbside locations for their use in the city.
Funeral homes are "managed by a private company and serve their clientele;" understandably, they get special traffic and parking privileges all over the city.
Ambulance companies are also "managed by a private company and serve their clientele;" understandably, they get special traffic and parking privileges all over the city.
Any company that delivers anything, from Fedex to Cappy's Pizza, uses exclusive delivery/commercial spaces all over the city.
CLERGY get to park in restricted locations. If you want to find a questionable use of public land, there you go.
The Franklin Park course-- the Devine Course-- is leased by a private company and has been for years. The last I knew, it was a company owned by a guy named Bill Flynn who had been local PGA star and occasionally had a beer at Doyle's, but that was some years ago. A different private company may lease it now. If you pay a green fee or tee fee or whatever the hell they call it, that company gets the money and then pays rent to the city. Like Zip Car.
If the City of Boston ever wants to start their own car share program and take back all the spots, more power to them. But they haven't yet, just as they have not started a taxi service. Do you want to get rid of the cab stands just because taxis are privately owned? The city does not limit ambulance privileges to only the EMS; most of the ambulances serving Boston hospitals are privately owned but they are not forced to find a meter. I'm sure you're not arguing that they should not be given specific, limited privileges. These taxis and ambulances are fulfilling a public need, filling gaps that the city of Boston isn't. Same with Zip Car.
Why not market rate?
That's not a completely insane giveaway price, but it is well below market.
For the spaces on Cambridge street where they took out the meters, that's a net loss of revenue: meters were $1.25 per hour, 8AM to 8PM, 5 days per week, minus a couple of holidays; that's $3,780 per year.
A reserved space in the under common garage is $6,000 per year. The Charles Street garage is $4,500 per year.
Maybe they will up it after the pilot, nut...
I would be curious to know exactly how much the meters generated, though-- I would be very very surprised if they actually earned $1.25/12hours a day. Between vacancies (especially after 6PM on a weekday) and people simply exceeding the time limit, my guess is it would be quite a bit less.
Cambridge probably has an idea of how much those particular meters earned; I can't imagine they wouldn't use that information when they negotiated the lease.
That info would be interesting
I would argue that $1.25 per hour for the whole period is not far off -- the spaces don't sit empty for long, and, the periods the spaces are empty are probably balanced out by the rounding up ... since the meters take only quarters, if you want to park for 2 hours and there are, say, 8 minutes left on the meter when you pull in, you still need to put in 10 quarters.
Not quite. people are complaining that a space that used to be shared on a first-come, first-served basis with required turnover, is now permanently allocated to a single entity.
Which may or may not have been in the overall public interest, and it may have been a good decision, but we don't know because of the completely non-transparent decision making process.
If I wanted to start Anon
If I wanted to start Anon (Not Verified)'s Sketchy Short-Term Car Rental Service, would my business get equal access to this program? Or is it only for Zipcar and Enterprise Car Share?