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City looks to more than double fines for parking in the way of street sweepers - but would also stop towing cars that block them

Mayor Walsh wants to expand a pilot program in Charlestown in which the city increased the fine for curbside parking on street-sweeping days from $40 to $90 and in exchange stopped towing cars whose owners left them there anyway.

Walsh is asking the City Council to make the changes permanent and to give the Boston Transportation Department the power to expand the program, which began last summer, to other neighborhoods.

When he first introduced the idea, Walsh said the higher fines would spur people to get their cars out of the way, leading to cleaner streets. At the same time, he noted that ending towing would mean no more $120 towing fees.

The council considers the request at its regular meeting tomorrow at noon in its fifth-floor chambers in City Hall. If the council follows its regular procedure, it will take no immediate action but instead assign the measure to a committee for a public hearing.

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Comments

And they really get a read on whether people in move their cars.
In Beacon Hill I think there are a lot of car owners who are oblivious to tickets. To get 24 hour off street parking in the area is generally over $350 so twice a month x $90 is still a bit cheaper and you don't need to get on a waiting list.

Some claim that street cleaning is a scam, but it is pretty awful the amount of trash that accumulates under cars that never move on the North Slope of Beacon Hill.

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Read too fast. I guess I will go with Marty is a car guy.

Any report on the success in Charlestown?

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I've noticed about the same level of street-sweeping violations in Charlestown since the pilot went into effect.

Pros: Less hassle and cost for those who forget to move; higher percentage of fees/fines to the City; anecdotally, it does not seem to encourage more violations
Cons: Street not swept where cars are left

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I think for $100 a pop the city should be able to afford to pay someone to clean under parked cars with a Roomba, broom, blower, or baby mop. Towing cars away is a waste when all you need is ten minutes of manual labor.

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This is a dumb idea. Any sane person would rather pay $90 and not have to go retrieve their car than pay $160(120+40) and have to go to the tow lot. How does leaving the cars in the way of the street sweepers create cleaner streets? That makes no sense. Either Marty is an idiot or he thinks we are.

I'm guessing what this is really about is the city getting more money and having to do less work. Of course if drivers are held less accountable for their actions then Marty "I'm a car guy" Walsh is a fan of it.

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But you are assuming that this is rational behavior. I would say that most violators simply forgot and the added hassle wasn't making them "remember" at a higher rate. Of course, the City should have the stats on whether there were more, less or the same violations under the pilot.

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Any sane person would rather pay $90 and not have to go retrieve their car than pay $160(120+40) and have to go to the tow lot.

Any sane person would rather pay nothing and have their car out of the way and have clean streets.

Cyclists think all car owner are idiots. And they're wrong.

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What do cyclists have to do with any of this?

I swear, this site's comment sections have a bike-related version of Godwin's Law. Can we call it Gaffin's Law?

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breathes in

hahahahahahaha

ahem.

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$90 is nothing to some people, but is still a month's food budget to some others.

Towing is actually more of an equalizer. If paying a $90 fine is a minor annoyance, having to go to a filthy tow lot to retrieve your Beamer and then go over it for damage is significant deterrent.

Though, although towing is more egalitarian in relative terms, compared to a $90 fine, towing is even harder on the poor in absolute terms (expense, missing work).

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If $90 is a month's food budget, then what is a $40 parking ticket + $200+ to get your car out of the tow lot?

I am 100% in favor of any plan that takes money away from towing companies, who are the greatest parasites of our time. If we want to make sure we don't accidentally make it more attractive to just leave your car parked somewhere, then make the street cleaning fine $300, I don't care--I'd rather it go to the city than to the guy running the quasi-legal impound lot because his uncle is district sergeant.

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Are there neighborhoods where they are using private tow companies for the street sweeper towing? In mine they are using BTD tow trucks.

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in Southie and Allston/Brighton, at least.

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I've only seen private towing in the north end

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Tow the cars so you can clean the goddamned streets, Marty.

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Yes, let's make it less expensive and more convenient for people to not move their cars. That'll teach them.

Or maybe, and I know i'm talking crazy talk now, you could make the street sweeping restrictions apply year round. That way when it snows, you can use the time in which the streets will be clear of cars to do a proper plow of them to the curb. But hey, I suppose that's just too logical now.

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This is all about making it easier for his contractor buddies to illegally park around job sites with abandon.

Fines are nothing to guys with commercial plates. But having your truck or van yanked from a site is a big deal.

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Park them outside and walk/take public transit in. There are far too many cars in Boston. Doing this would make plenty of room for street cleaners...and pedestrian walkways, bicycle lanes and lots of fresh air.

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Good luck with that?

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How would people get to the hospitals? Sure, many patients could use public transit, but unless you've been with someone very ill, I can tell you taking them to Mass General on the T would be an added hardship they shouldn't have to deal with.

What you'd like to see and what is realistic is two different things.

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There are commercial car services like Uber, Boston taxis and livery cars. It can be done. It's a wild idea I know.

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This isn't Venice.

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I hear some time from now we may have concerns with rising water levels. Cars then will need to be amphibious.

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Still faster/more reliable than the Green Line.

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^

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Have you been to Venice in the hot summer and their rainy season?

I mean, I love Venice, don't get me wrong. But it's not all elegance and mystery. Just like any city. It's lovely and romantic, yet still has its stinky times.

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What about those of us that live in the city but commute to suburbs with no commuter rail access?

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Which can't happen if a car is parked in the way of the sweeper. On my South End street, many of us actually sweep our steps and the sidewalks on street cleaning days. It is annoying/infuriating to see the lone car that wasn't towed with a pile of debris around it on in the middle of clean sidewalks and gutters.

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Increase the fine AND tow violators. The point is to clean the streets. If the city wants to raise fines for violators, please do, but not at the expense of clean streets.

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You could sweep into a dustpan and turn the dustpan over onto the car

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The next rain will take care of that.

But good to see you're advocating messing up private property (I know, taking up space on public property, yada yada yada).

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Wasn't the plan that all the money goes to the city and not the tow companies and that the extra money would pay for workers to sweep around the parked cars?

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What about a system where each violation costs more?

$90 is nothing to someone with a high paying job.

But if second fine is $150, 3rd fine is $300, 4th fine is $1000 etc well, even the rich start to pay attention.

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Ha! The ultra rich don't pay tickets... or taxes for that matter. I'm not sure if it was posted on universalhub or I read it elsewhere: there's a list of the richest people in Massachusetts who owe a boatload of money in back taxes to the state that they just aren't bother to pay like the rest of us have to and do. It's nauseating.

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A pilot is useless without the data to draw conclusions. We should know what the data said before moving further in this discussion.

The purpose of ticketing/towing isn't revenue, and it's not to force the forgetful (or slacker) to shlep to the Tow lot, it's having cleaner streets.

So, what was the result in Charlestown? Are streets cleaner, or similarly clean, with increased fines instead of towing?

Also, I've seen tow trucks move cars, assuming there is some free space to move them to. So if 100 people park elswhere on Street cleaning day, and one or two people per street forget to move, we could ticket them, clean half the street, tow their cars to the clean part of the street. As long as the fine is enough to pay for the tow truck driver and extra street cleaning work, we get clean streets and nobody has to shelp to the tow lot.

I am all for taking the T, and walking, and I'm definitely for cleaner streets. You can propose more pedestrian friendly policy and less car-centric policy, but the holier-than-thou, anti-car venom from some people is nasty and mean.

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To accomplish thorough snow removal in Montreal, cars are simply moved around the block to a nearby street that has already been cleaned. Tickets are issued, but the owners don't have to travel across town to retrieve their vehicles.

The city gains revenue from the fines, and the towing companies still get to make some profit. Best of all, at the end of the day, the streets are completely cleaned — which is the whole point of the operation!

If Mayor Walsh allows some vehicles to remain in place, preventing the street cleaners from doing their work, why bother cleaning the streets at all? Seems like a big waste of money.

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We should know what the data said before moving further in this discussion.

Hee, hee, hee, haw, haw, haw!

Fact-based policy making from this administration?

That's hilarious.

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Either idea is stupid, because the "street sweepers" don't actually clean anything. They simply don't. A "street sweeper" goes down a street with trash, cigarette butts, etc. in the street, and the street behind it is unchanged. Given that the "street cleaning" doesn't get the streets cleaned whether there are cars present or not, maybe the whole program needs a drastic rethink, rather than fiddling with details that are irrelevant if you're not actually going to clean the streets anyway.

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I don't know where you are, but my street looks much better during street sweeping season. Right now it's pretty gross, and being totally residential it's mostly just leaves and small litter that makes up the mess.

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Agreed.

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On my street, I can't tell the difference between the just-cleaned side and the side that's due for a cleaning the next day. Maybe we're better at picking up litter ourselves.

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I'm in Brighton, and I often see the street sweepers go by in the morning. Many times I have watched a sweeper go by, leaving the exact same litter behind it.

Another point: you're talking about a winter's accumulation, and I can believe that it's pretty gross. Do you think maybe there's a happy medium between sweeping once a year and sweeping once a week? Given the lack of effectiveness, the weekly sweepings seem to cause more pain than benefit to residents, and isn't it all supposed to be about benefit to residents?

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They do a very good job when cars are moved.

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"When he first introduced the idea, Walsh said..."

The idea for a $100 ticket was first introduced in 2010 by Linehan, not Walsh. Linehan wanted it because there's more towing in South Boston than other areas. The council and Menino rejected it.

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The point of towing is not to punish people who forgot to move their cars. Nor is it to act as a deterrent. It's to physically move the cars out of the way so the street sweeper can get through.

Is this really that hard to grasp?

The downtown neighborhoods worked long and hard to get the city to start towing for street sweeping, with an immediate improvement: cleaner streets, fewer rats, less dust and crap blowing around.

Of what benefit is it to anyone to eliminate towing?

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I have a fairly flexible work schedule during the day and see it all the time... Enforcement walks right past a commercial vehicle endangering public safety and they TARGET RESIDENTS.

If more residents were aware of this, I'm sure the outrage will spread. RESIDENTS FIRST and commercial vehicles that willingly and blantently break the law should be ticketed with as much vigor as street cleaning and have higher fines for willfully breaking the law and ENDANGERING THE PUBLIC.

Don't have a car? How would you feel if an emergency vehicle was delayed due to an illegally parked commercial vehicle (that more than likely is from a business that is not located in the city).

EMFORCEMENT WALKED RIGHT PAST AND WAS CAUGHT:
Check out this Illegal Parking at Intersection Of Lathrop Pl & Hanover St
https://goo.gl/XkxvCD

Check out this Abandoned Vehicle at Intersection Of Lewis St & Moon St
https://goo.gl/zFxwpc

Check out this Illegal Parking at 133 Salem St
https://goo.gl/2VesG1

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