City Councilor Michelle Wu Talks Traffic, Parking Problems In Boston

michelle wu

City Councilor Michelle Wu introduced her new parking ordnance Wednesday. (Screenshot from stream)

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Boston City Councilor At-Large Michelle Wu knows you're mad at her.

That kind of thing tends to happen when you propose tacking a $25 fee onto something that is currently free—in this case, Boston resident parking permits.

The charge is part of an ordnance Wu introduced at Wednesday's city council meeting that is meant to address the way resident parking is handled in the city for the first time since the 1980s.

Wu knows the fee isn't popular, but she also knows there's a problem with parking in the city's neighborhoods, and it's that problem that her proposal to begin charging for the parking permit stickers seeks to solve.

"There are strong, strong feelings about parking in every neighborhood in Boston, but what we know is that the current resident parking system isn't working for the majority of residents," Wu told WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal. "In a lot of neighborhoods, there are way more permits given out than there are spots available on the street, because there's no cap on the number of permits and no charge whatsoever, and so you have residents every single night trying to get home, trying to get to their families and instead circling the block, sometimes for an hour or more."

The proposal features a $25 fee for the first car, with an extra $25 tacked on for each additional car—$50 for the second, $75 for the third, etc., as well as an exemption for seniors and low-income families. A visitor's parking pass will also be available, costing $10 and lasting 72 hours.

The councilor is hoping that the fee will change the way people think about parking availability.

"Even at a very small charge, cities that have moved from having completely free storage on public streets saw a difference in terms of how people think about how to use these spaces," she said.

Wu also wants to find out just how many spaces there are in Boston through a "parking census" in order to come up with a cap on the number of permits given out. The city is working on coming up with that number.

She said she knows it's hard to ask people to pay for something they already get for free, but she wants Bostonians to think more long-term.

"What I'm proposing is that we need to think of it not just in the individual short-term cost benefit, but a larger, city-wide, societal long-term cost benefit," she said. "We know that the circling from a parking system that's broken is making our traffic even worse. We're already the worst in the country, and this is contributing significantly to that."

Regal and Wu also discussed the traffic problem as it relates to climate change, the importance of making alternative transportation reliable and affordable, balancing the city's transportation infrastructure, and more.

Listen to the full interview with Wu below.

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WBZ NewsRadio's Karyn Regal (@Karynregal) reports

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