After Newton City Council rejected a petition to suspend the overnight winter parking ban, residents across Newton expressed varying opinions on what the city’s next steps should look like.
“We need a long-term solution,” Nonantum resident Ronda Morra said.
The current ban forbids overnight parking on all Newton streets from Dec. 1 to March 31, punishable by a $25 fine, according to the city’s website.
“It shall be unlawful for any vehicle, other than one acting in an emergency, to be parked on any street, way, highway, road, parkway, or private way for a period of time longer than one hour between the hours of 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.,” the city’s website reads.
Newton residents organized a petition calling for the repeal of the overnight parking ban, and as of Sept. 26, it amassed 5,480 verified signatures—480 above the amount necessary to put the petition on the City Council docket, according to the council.
The Public Safety & Transportation Committee struck down amendments to the ban on Oct. 4 and the full council upheld the rejection Oct. 16. On Nov. 8, the committee rejected another proposal to amend the dates of the parking ban in a 1–5 vote.
In the Nov. 8 meeting, Ward 3 Councilor Julia Malakie said she has seen a favorable reaction toward the ban from many Newton residents.
“I’ve got plenty of people in my ward who welcomed the ban,” Malakie said. “We’ve gotten letters from people who say even though they have to juggle cars, they think it’s worth it.”
During the same meeting, however, Ward 3 Councilor Andrea Kelley argued that the ban is an unnecessary complication for Newton residents.
“Many residents are inconvenienced by this kind of overshell approach to what is a few-days-a-year safety,” Kelley said.
After the petition repeatedly failed to pass at the city council level, organizers of the petition are continuing to collect additional signatures in order to become eligible for a binding ballot initiative in 2025, according to their newsletter.
“We intend to engage in further dialogue with the many Councilors who stated that they are still interested in providing some amount of relief for this winter,” the newsletter reads.
Morra said she worries that the parking ban puts a strain on the lack of available parking for renters and residents of multifamily homes, especially in areas like Nonantum.
“I feel really bad for the people particularly in Nonantum, because there’s a lot of renters and they don’t have driveways,” Morra said. “This particular street relies on that kind of parking, so I’m more for lifting the ban than I am against it.”
Morra also said she believes the overnight parking ban disproportionately affects denser areas of the city, a point she said should be considered in decisions surrounding the ban’s continuation.
“Nonantum particularly, I mean, I think this is more of a blue-collar section of Newton, that’s why we could afford to live here,” Morra said. “I think that they need to come up with a long-term parking solution.”
Morra voiced concerns that the city council’s current plans to increase multifamily housing under the proposed Village Center Overlay District don’t take parking into account.
“If you’re going to keep building, especially going away from the single-family homes …
they need to come up with … a long-term parking solution,” Morra said. “I mean, I would hate to see over time this place become as bad as Southie where, you know, you have to guard your parking spots.”
Lifelong Nonantum resident Barbara Morris said she has never had an issue with the parking ban because she parks in her driveway or garage during the winter months.
“I think Dec. 1 through April is good,” Morris said. “I’ve lived in the city all my life and I just go by the rules, so it’s no problem.”
According to Chestnut Hill resident Joel Eichler, lifting the parking ban would cause issues around Boston College because students would take advantage of street parking and increase traffic in the area.
“It’s inconsiderate that [BC] takes your tuition, but they don’t give you space,” Eichler said. “On the other hand, I feel that we’re affected a lot by BC. I have empathy for [students], and I also feel like it’s a more complicated picture as a homeowner.”
Though Eichler parks his own car in a driveway, he said parking is still an issue for his home when he receives visitors.
“My wife and I are psychologists and we have patients that need the spaces in our driveway,” Eichler said. “I totally understand the problem and it’s very disappointing.”
Some residents are in favor of the parking ban, such as Chestnut Hill resident Cheng Ma, who said restricting overnight parking increases safety in the area surrounding her home.
“Not having parking overnight would be great,” Ma said. “It’s a very nice community, and we need to make sure it’s safe for us and safe for our kids.”
Ma also expressed frustration with people frequently parking on her street, and said the ban helps to limit the amount of cars in front of her house.
“There’s always a lot of cars, you never know who’s going to park here,” Ma said.