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Photo courtesy of the City of Somerville, Mass.
Photo courtesy of the City of Somerville, Mass.

Last chance to weigh in on proposed new rules; final report expected this summer

(Somerville Wire) – Since last summer, the City has been studying possible changes to its rules governing parking and other curb use. The study will be coming to an end soon, as the final report is scheduled to be released sometime this summer. But it’s not too late for residents, business owners, and other road-users to weigh in on the proposals.

The Citywide Parking & Curb Use Study is “an effort to comprehensively understand the parking system in Somerville and make recommendations that will guide the City in bringing its parking policies in alignment with its city goals, community values, and future needs,” according to Parking Department and Mobility Division staff who are leading the effort.

The City is seeking recommendations that will “enhance mobility and access, improve the equity, safety, dependability, and sustainability of our transportation system, reduce our reliance on automobiles, allow for growth with less parking, and satisfy parking demand to the extent feasible and practical.”

The project team held a series of virtual meetings and an online survey over the past year to gain insights from community members. They also compiled and analyzed data regarding parking usage, curb cuts, crosswalks, bus stops, loading zones, and other curb-based activities.

In June, the project team held a virtual meeting to share key findings from data analysis and potential policy and operations recommendations.

Last Wednesday, July 27, City staff held a virtual meeting with members of the Somerville business community to discuss the study recommendations.

Now the City is seeking final feedback on its findings.

The current survey asks about priorities for how to use curb space, ranking different uses such as parking, travel lanes, loading, and green space. There are separate questions for residential and commercial or mixed-use neighborhoods.

Another portion of the survey focuses on revising the resident permit program “to reduce the number of vehicles in Somerville and the demand for on-street parking.” Potential strategies to achieve this include switching to a zone-based system that would only allow permit holders to park in their particular zone of the city, to ask residents with off-street parking to pay more for an on-street parking permit, or to tie the permit fees to income level.

Provide your feedback by filling out the online survey, and read the detailed Curb Study to learn more about current usage and policies.

Photo courtesy of the City of Somerville, Mass.

Linda Pinkow is a reporter for the Somerville Wire. She is also a development consultant for the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

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