Medford to Re-Examine Winter Parking Ban
City councilors agreed the four-month ban is not working as it should.
At the urging of residents, the Medford City Council resolved Tuesday night to have the city re-examine its winter parking ban that many believe isn't working.
Councilor Breanna Lungo-Koehn brought up the topic, which had been shelved after last Tuesday's abbreviated meeting.
"It's time to make a change," she said on the winter parking ban, which presently runs from Dec. 1 to April 1 on city streets.
Each night during these four months, cars can only be parked on odd or even sides of streets from 12 to 7 a.m. For example, because 2012 is an even number, cars this winter are only to be parked on even sides.
The ban used to be six months long and was eventually reduced to four.
Lungo-Koehn said "thickly-settled" areas are of particular concern for residents who have difficulty finding parking spots late at night in some neighborhoods.
She asked a change be made on a trial basis, including better utilizing the city's reverse 911 system to alert residents during snow emergencies.
Lungo-Koehn called the city's current system "unacceptable" based on the number of phone calls and e-mails she gets on the topic year after year.
One resident, Valerie Harris of Poole Street, expressed vehement opposition to the winter parking ban and asked it only be in effect during actual snow emergencies. She said the parking ban impacts Medford home values.
"Who wants to buy a house and have to fight for parking four months out of the year?" she asked.
Harris finds it ridiculous that she pays property and excise taxes but can be ticketed for parking in front of her own home on a 60-degree night between December and April.
She also questioned the usefulness of the parking ban when it is sometimes not enforced during snow emergencies because of a lack of police manpower.
"I would much rather see my tax dollars pay for police patrols as a crime deterrent than having our officers sitting on a street writing tickets," Harris said.
Lungo-Koehn moved the council lift the winter parking ban Feb. 1 and come up with a new plan for enforcement, but she was reminded by Council President Robert Maiocco that the city's Traffic Commission would first need to consider any changes.
"The city council doesn't have this under our jurisdiction," Councilor Paul Camuso said.
Councilor Robert Penta asked that a report come back to the council from police regarding what parts of the city are getting tickets related to the winter parking ban and what parts are not.
Some councilors discussed the need for awareness than in some parts of town where there are more two- or three-family homes there's going to be a need for more parking spaces.
Additionally, commercial vehicles sometimes take up on-street spaces and councilors asked for greater code enforcement in those instances.
The council eventually moved unanimously the send the issue to the Traffic Commission for further discussion.