Despite a proposal to shorten the current Newton overnight parking ban, the city’s Public Safety and Transportation Committee voted against any alterations to the ban at its meeting on Wednesday night.
“There are a lot of narrow streets right now and increased darkness this time of year,” Ward 4 Councilor Chris Markiewicz said. “In this larger project, I think those things need to be taken into account.”
Ward 3 Councilor-at-Large Andrea Kelley and Ward 2 Councilor-at-Large Susan Albright docketed the item for discussion, proposing shortening the ban from Dec. 1 through March 31 to last only through the months of January and February.
Multiple Newton residents were present at the meeting with Zoom profile pictures reading “Repeal Parking Ban.” Kelley said amending the ban would allow Newton residents more parking convenience without causing as great a disruption as removing the ban altogether would.
“I think all of us have been seeing letters from people asking us to, if not lift the ban, at least shorten it for reasons of their practicality,” Kelley said.
Newton Highlands Neighborhood Area Council President Jeremy Freudberg also expressed concern about the ban’s inconvenience.
“There’s a desire this winter to help people, and for a lot of people, the parking ban is a burden,” Freudberg said.
But shortening the ban may not be fully effective, according to Freudberg.
“I do think four to two months isn’t going to make much of a difference there,” Freudberg said.
Ward 3 Councilor Julia Malakie said she opposed amending the ban, especially given its original length and the increase in multi-family housing in Newton.
“The ban started out as full year, and I think going down to two months really guts the effect of it,” Malakie said. “We’re looking at a future with possibly many more units and no increase in curb space.”
Newton resident Terry Sauro shared her opposition to overturning the current ban, as well as her disappointment at the lack of a council conclusion after previous conversations on the issue.
“It just doesn’t seem correct that you can do this after it was discussed and voted upon,” Sauro said. “The streets need to be cleaned, especially during snow emergencies.”
Ward 7 Councilor-at-Large Becky Grossman shared her frustration with the Newton administration’s hesitance to gather data and find a parking solution.
“I’m pretty shocked to hear that feedback from the administration about a lack of willingness to work with us,” Grossman said. “I think that they should be willing to invest some time and resources on trying to come up with creative solutions.”
Most council members voted against the proposal, with only Bowman and Kelley in favor. Ward 5 Councilor-at-Large Andreae Downs abstained.