The City of Newton imposed an overnight parking ban starting Dec. 1 and lasting through March 31, 2022, according to the city’s website. About 75 percent of residents responding to a Nov. 18 newsletter update from Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller disapproved of the ban, according to a subsequent update.
Tawney Wray, one disapproving resident, said that she worried that people will not have access to safe spots to park their cars.
“I understand the necessity of the street being plowed, you know, but there’s also the necessity of people being able to safely park their car some place where they don’t have to worry about it, worry about getting towed, or getting a ticket,” Wray said. “So, some kind of modification has to happen.”
The ban prohibits parking for more than one hour on any public street in Newton from 2:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m, according to the website. Violators can face $25 fines.
Newton City Council President Susan Albright said that the City Council has the authority to change the ordinance and that she and Councilor-at-Large Andrea Kelley have met with the chief of police to discuss creating a permit program for residents without access to a driveway.
Albright said she hopes to form a citizens’ group dedicated to discussing the options to best modify the ban.
“The goal would be to have a working group to propose what makes sense and then docket that with the City Council, you know, sometime … during this winter,” she said.
Although these modifications would not apply to this year’s ban, Albright said, the group would work to propose permanent changes for future years.
Modifications to the ban could alleviate the burden placed on residents living in multifamily homes, condos, and apartments without access to a driveway or garage.
“The north side in particular is the older side of Newton, and we have lots of small lots that predated zoning, … and they built houses without driveways and without garages,” Albright said. “So those people are very burdened. They have no place to put their cars. … What are we doing to these people? Why are we being so mean to them?”
Newton resident Larry Rosenberg said that he has never found the ban necessary. He said the city, instead, could eliminate the ban as a whole and only prohibit parking on public streets when it declares a snow emergency.
“A lot of people don’t have enough room and end up having to ask their neighbors if they can pull in their driveway, you know, just for the overnight,” he said. “It doesn’t cause any problems. You can park during the day, and you can park at night. Why not park all night?”
Another resident said she is in favor of the ban, as she wants to keep Newton a private, quiet town. She also said parked cars on snowy streets are dangerous.
“I think it’s great because we pay so much for taxes, and you know, I like it,” she said. “And also for when it snows, they need the streets free to plow.”
Residents who need a place to park their cars can receive free municipal parking lot stickers from the Newton Police Department. Residents can also receive limited parking permits on a first-come, first-serve basis from the police department, Fuller said in her email.
Wray said that Fuller should ensure that everyone is aware of these options.
“Not everybody has access to a laptop or a cell phone,” Wray said. “So with her updates, not everybody’s been informed, but the bottom line is they need to do something about having access to parking.”
Featured Image by Victor Stefanescu / Heights Editor