The Newton City Council recently voted to allow parking meters to have a range of rates.Here’s some answers to common questions as provided by the city’s planning department.
What are the current rates?
Right now, everywhere in Newton the rates are 50 cents for long-term spaces and 75 cents for short-term spaces.
What will the rates be in the future?
The Newton Planning Department has been given the authority to set parking meter rates up to $3.75 per hour. However, any increases will be done gradually and modestly, with input from businesses and with a lot of advance notice. To repeat, increases will be done gradually and modestly.
Why allow higher rates?
The reason for having parking meters is not to collect revenue. Rather, parking meters are in Newton’s commercial areas to encourage turnover in the most convenient spots so customers can find a place to park. Lower rates at meters a greater distance away encourage longer-term parkers to park there, opening up spaces at the “front door” for customers staying for a shorter time. Thus, the plan is to increase rates some places but have lower rates in more remote parking areas.
The ultimate goal is to have approximately 1 out of 10 spaces available at peak parking times in high trafficked areas so customers can find a space. The goal is to eliminate people driving around in circles (with the associated emissions, congestion and aggravation) to find a space!
Where will there be higher rates?
The areas of Newton where we have heard the most concerns about parking crunches are in Newton Centre, West Newton and Newton Corner. Sometimes Newtonville, Newton Highlands and Washington Street in front of Newton Wellesley Hospital are mentioned as not having enough availability. Each of these villages are quite different and will have individual approaches to parking meter rates. A lot of attention will be given to protecting residential neighborhoods abutting villages from excessive spill-over.
When will there be higher rates?
We do not expect to implement higher rates soon. We need to plan, listen, and engage, village by village. It’s probably more than a year away before any rates will increase.
We need to buy and install new meters and kiosks before moving forward. We have approximately 1,100 meters in Newton. They are old. A substantial number, close to 340 of them, are damaged. We will be installing new ones (pending City Council approval) in the next two years. The new “Smart Technology” meters will allow us to track usage and help us set the rates appropriately.
Will there be changes in the number of short-term and longer-term meters?
Village by village, lot by lot, street by street, we will continue to adjust the number and location of short and long-term meters, a process that also involves the Traffic Council. Commuters and employees need spaces where they can stay for a longer period and typically are willing to walk farther, especially if the cost per hour is more modest than the metered spaces right in the heart of a village. The rates at the longer-term meters will be lower than the short-term meters, just as they are now.
Do we have enough parking spaces?
Maybe. Each village is different. For each village, we will inventory supply, measure demand, understand the needs of businesses and customers, develop parking availability goals, improve signage so drivers know about parking options, make sure it is safe to walk from more remote locations, and gradually implement variable parking rates.
Have some ideas for us?
Reach out to our Director of Transportation Planning, Nicole Freedman, at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments, questions, and concerns.