Boston city councilor proposes residential parking fees

BOSTON — Parking spots in Boston, already tough to find, could be getting more expensive.

Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu's office tells Boston 25 News that Wu wants to update the city's resident permit system, which was last reformed decades ago when the city's population was at a historic low.

"Our streets are incredibly crowded, worst traffic in the country and this circling for spots is a large part of that congestion," Wu told Boston 25 News in a statement.

Residential parking permits are currently free, and there is no cap on how many the city gives out despite the limited number of available spaces. Wu's office says the number of permits issued in Boston has increased by 25% in the last 10 years.

Wu is proposing a $25 charge for each non-transferable permit. Seniors and low-income residents receiving means-tested benefits would be exempt from the fee. Also exempt would be home health care aides who are visiting patients, Boston Public Schools staff visiting students and other groups as needed.

The current system, according to Wu's office, perpetuates systemic inequities by giving an advantage to neighborhoods with resources and time since establishing resident parking zones requires citizens to self-organize and collect signatures from at least 51% of adults who live on the affected streets.

A transportation watchdog with the Pioneer Institute told the Boston Herald that the proposal could work for clearing up curb space, but a better approach would be to use technology to find out where parking is plentiful and where it's more limited, and issue parking fees accordingly to free up space.

Cambridge and Somerville already have annual fees for parking.

Wu also called for changes to the residential permit system last year.

Her ordinance will be introduced at Wednesday's City Council meeting. A hearing will be scheduled after that.