Boston residents could begin paying for parking in the future

BOSTON — Enjoy those free parking spaces while you can.

City Council president Michelle Wu has listed "parking management" as part of her campaign policy platform, and hopes to look at the issue in the upcoming term, according to the Boston Globe.

Wu said her two main goals in discussing a parking fee are to create a revenue source that could be used for transportation improvements, and to encourage people to park off-street, so residents can have spots along the road.

"Everyone agrees there's a problem [with parking availability]," Wu said.

Wu says the resident permit parking program is broken, because it's free and it allows families to obtain permits for multiple vehicles for free.

"There are way too many permits given out compared to there are spots on the street. So you have residents circling for hours sometimes after they get home from work, trying to find a place for their car," Wu said.

Beyond stressing out residents, Wu says that constantly having to circle around the city to find a spot to park wastes gas and increases pollution.

"Now there are a lot of spots off the street behind the home or in an alleyway, or things like that, but because resident parking permits are completely free right now and you can get as many as you need or want, the system is a little unbalanced," Wu said.

The Globe conducted a review of residential parking permits in 2015 found that at least 300 residences have more than five parking permits.

Wu doesn't have a specific fee in mind. Boston suburbs - like Cambridge, Brookline, and Somerville - all have parking permit fees ranging from $25 to $40 a year.

Wu says she thinks there could be a different payment structure per neighborhood, based on demand. She'd also like a discount program for lower-income residents.

Some drivers say paying for a resident permit parking sticker in Boston is fair and should be enforced. Others, on the other hand, believe that the high cost of living is already enough to pay for and that street parking should remain free of charge.

"I don't see anything  wrong with charging $25 dollars a year for that privilege," said Anita Lemaire, a back Bay resident. "You can (only) really park here weeks at a time."