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City to eliminate towing for street sweeping in Charlestown, but to more than double the fines

The mayor's office announced today that Charlestown will be used as a pilot for a new street-cleaning program in which cars will no longer be towed if they block street sweepers - but will instead get ticketed with fines that will be increased from the current $40 to $90.

The new system goes into effect July 1.

In announcing the idea earlier this year, Mayor Walsh predicted the pilot would eventually lead to cleaner streets because after you get $90 tickets three or four weeks in a row, "I think you're going to move your car." Walsh said this would still be cheaper than the $120 towing fee residents would previously pay - and would eliminate legally parked cars towed away by over-eager tow drivers.

If the program results in cleaner streets, it will be rolled out citywide.

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Comments

Currently, one must pay $40 (ticket) + $120 towing fee + $ XX (daily storage fee, 1 day min) + deal with the hassle of getting to the tow lot to retrieve your car.

In the future, one must only pay $90 (ticket).

Only an imbecile would think you will incent better behavior by reducing the price of a violation. So either Walsh is stupid, or he thinks I'm stupid.

That said, although I expect this change to result in dirtier streets, I'm in favor. All of the money will now go to the City, which can use it to offset the reduced efficacy of the street sweepers. There is no reason to enrich the tow companies.

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There is no reason to enrich the tow companies.
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In my neighborhood, on street sweeping days, I haven't noticed any tow trucks other than BTD. I am not sure if they are using private tow also or not.

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In Charlestown, the only tow trucks I've seen are operated by Cityside Towing. I know that the BTD tow trucks exist, but I haven't seen them in Charlestown.

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South End is Todisco. A bunch of trucks and a "spotter" car are out there religiously on street cleaning days. Really shows the dicotomy between the effeciency of public and private services.

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The whole point is cleaner streets. A large number of people don't move their cars now, and when that happens you can see the difference between the street that got swept, and where the car (that was not towed) prevented sweeping. Will this new law get more people to move their cars???

I have to believe most of the time it's general forgetfulness on the parker's side, who either didn't read the sign, or parked days ago and forgot towing was coming up.

Street parkers - what's your view. Do you really not move your car and live with the $40 fine and the assumption they'll never actually tow you? Is the risk of a $90 fine enough to get you motivated to be more attentive to street sweeping?

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I've lived in Charlestown for 9 years now and usually once a season I get towed for screwing up the street cleaning side (on the side streets it's every other week). As someone who doesn't drive to work I park my car on a side street Sunday and don't touch it until Saturday. By that point it's accrued a couple days storage fee.

I'm optimistic that people will not use this as an incentive to not adhere to street cleaning.

Essentially the city will have the plate information of those not moving their cars - maybe they could impose an increase in ticket amount for repeat offenders.

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K10 - So why own the car? Couldn't a Zipcar or such take care of your weekend needs cheaper than full blown car ownership? Kind of expensive having a vehicle sitting around 5.5 days a week doing not much...

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Send the street sweeper out with a few tow trucks. Hit 'em with a $90 fine (which may be about as high as they can push it - state law speaks to this I believe). Then hit'em with $100 to move their car out of the way but put it back (this probably isn't doable in some narrow side streets -but at least the main roads).

Part of the problem was that they were towing cars to far flung corners of the city without easy transit access PLUS the tow trucks were towing outside the hours or after the street sweeper comes by - technically OK - but really no harm no foul.

This way the city gets clean streets, plus some $$$ plus the tow trucks get their pound of flesh and you the resident don't have to go from Charlestown to West Roxbury to find your car.

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The "incentive" argument is all smoke. At the city council hearing, everyone commented that people who get towed simply forget to move their car, and will still forget to move their car.

On the bright side, the higher ticket will pay for workers to manually use brooms and blowers to clean under cars. That should help.

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Were you here this winter? When it comes to anything transportation related, Walsh is clearly an idiot.

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.

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Towing costs the City money. Eliminating towing, and increasing the extortion charges fines instead makes the City money.

Whether the streets get cleaner because of this or not is a secondary consideration at best.

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ParkWise (google/apple) is a free street parking app for Boston residents by Boston residents.
Never be towed or ticketed again!

Current version supports most of Boston's neighborhoods (Including Sumerville and Cambridge) and we are working hard to add Charlestown by July 1st.

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For someone who lives in a $5 million house, how do you think they value the inconvenience of moving their car from the street into a $25 garage space and then retrieving it and looking for a street space again, versus simply picking up the $90 ticket from their windshield, dropping it in their secretary's inbox with a yellow sticky saying "pay this" on the way into the office, and never needing to think another thought about it?

All of the downtown neighborhood associations worked very hard some years ago to get the city to start towing on street cleaning days, and our streets became significantly cleaner as a result.

Walsh just never misses a chance to stick it to the neighborhoods that didn't vote for him.

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Absolutely agree. This is a major step backwards and very discouraging after so many community people worked so hard on this issue. In my neighborhood you could get 3-4 $90 tickets before you reached the cost of paying to park your car. Towing is the only way to get people to move their cars. It's not about the cost - it's about the inconvenience.

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I mean, if the neighborhood REALLY wanted to get the cars moved, they would be opposed to this. However, if they think getting to Readville or wherever, they might be more amenable to jacking up the fines. I mean, 90 bucks is 90 bucks. I'll do things to avoid library fines, so if I were in Charlestown, I'd be looking for spots the night before.

If Charlestown didn't want this, it would not be happening.

That said, my personal opinion is that cars should move on sweeping day. I've never lived where there were signs for sweeping, but as a youth, mom used to bug me to occasionally move the car to ensure the gutter was swept.

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and the bright orange stickers similar to those put on cars who have received a Denver Boot. For some, $90 still isn't enough to get off their lazy asses. But, have to scrape of a sticker? That might do it.

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If the program results in cleaner streets, it will be rolled out citywide.

When there is a car blocking the street sweeper, under what possible theory of anything could leaving the car in place with a ticket affixed, result in cleaner streets than physically removing the car so that the street sweeper can get through?

The point of towing isn't to punish the poor slob who forgot to move his car, it's to get the car out of way so the street sweeper can get through.

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Simple solution is keep throwing all the neighborhood garbage under scofflaw parkers. When their cars smell like a dump from sitting on top of bags of rotten rat filled garbage they'll take the hint.

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Streets could end up cleaner without towing because not all vehicles can physically get towed. In Beacon Hill probably only about 25% of ticketed cars are towed. The other 75% of cars are left with dirt and trash under them.

Under the pilot, 100% of those cars will get $90 tickets, and city workers will clean under 100% of those cars. Even if they can only each 50% of the debris and trash, statistically the street will get more clean under the new system than the old system.

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Rich people can brush off a $90 ticket, but picking up a car from a tow lot is a pain in the butt to everyone.

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And poor people who can't afford to un-tow their car right away, and continue to rack up storage fees daily?

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It's not a complete equalizer. To get closer to a complete equalizer, you'd have to fine people on a sliding scale. A $100 fine to some people is like a $100,000 fine to others.

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I hope this becomes city-wide soon. Money may as well go into the city coffers instead of the private towing companies.

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The city's press release states:

"The pilot program is being implemented to determine if a change in the city’s parking enforcement strategy will lead to increased compliance of the street cleaning regulations by motor vehicle owners and ease motorist concerns about the inconvenience of towing to distant tow lots."

How is it logical to think that 'increased compliance' will result by easing concerns, removing inconvenience, and reducing net cost of non-compliance? Those who forget/neglect to move their cars on street cleaning day will continue to do so. Most likely more parkers will fall into that category. They'll get ticketed, and the streets won't get cleaned.

BTW, the city gets a small kick-back from the tow companies for every tow, so the net gain in revenue from this program is smaller than you think. Never was towing taking place for the purpose of enriching the tow companies. It was done to enable the sweepers to do their jobs. Now that doesn't happen. Wow, I've woken up in Bizzaro world.

And in Bizzaro world, Pilot Program = "watch out, coming soon city-wide." Thanks Marty… keep throwing logic out the window.

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Here we go again. The streets will be filthier than ever once again. Do you really think they are going to clean around the cars parked illegally????? Keep up the towing and just increase the fine to $100.00. I still remember the trash before we had the towing for street cleaning. Stop listening to the whiners.

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This makes even less sense than the Mayor's stance on marijuana legalization or his approach to cleaning up after snow storms. When a car isn't moved for street sweeping, the car gets towed and the street gets cleaned. When a car is merely ticketed, the street does not get cleaned. This is not rocket science. Sure, no one wants to pay a $90 ticket, but even under the threat of towing, cars are parked illegally on street-sweeping days. It's a fact of life in the city. If you don't want to risk being towed, (a) be vigilant, or (b) don't park a car on the street. But dirtier streets are not the answer here. And why was this done in Charlestown with NO discussion beforehand? (Oh yeah, because we didn't vote for him ... )

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I haven't checked recently, but isn't there a state law capping parking tickets at $50, except for a few specific offenses like handicapped spaces, bus stops, and hydrants?

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