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Council Makes Changes to Parking Ordinance

After months of discussion, the City Council on December 21, 2021, approved changes to the parking ordinance which will finally prohibit some large and heavy vehicles from parking overnight on City streets. People will also now be prohibited from sleeping in their cars overnight.

The ordinance had been debated several times by the Council’s Public Safety Subcommittee, which consists of Mayor Anne-Marie Mastraccio, Councilor Ayn Hanselmann and Councilor Jonathan Martell. As the Council prepared for a final vote last week, Mayor Mastraccio said the Subcommittee could not reach consensus on what changes should be made, but she agreed to go along with the wishes of Councilors Hanselmann and Martell rather than hold it up any further, as she felt it included some necessary amendments.

The Council voted 5-1 to approve the changes to the ordinance, with Councilor Martell voting in opposition, saying the ordinance still needs more work (although he voiced no objection to it moving forward at the last Subcommittee meeting on December 14.)

The subsection of the City Ordinance related to Unlawful Parking (§245-113), as approved by the Council, now reads:

A. No motor vehicle or combination of vehicles/trailer, in excess of 20 feet in length shall remain parked in controlled or regulated parking areas prohibited in Schedules 5, 6, and 7 for more than 20 minutes on any public way.

B. No commercial vehicle or commercial vehicle and trailer combination, with a GVWR [gross vehicle weight rating] of 10,000 lbs. or greater, shall be allowed to overnight park on any public way or city owned or controlled property.

C. No motor vehicle or vehicle and trailer combination parked on any public way or city owned or controlled property, for a time period greater than 4 consecutive hours, shall be used as a sleeping location for any person.

D. Overnight parking shall be defined as any 4 hour or greater, consecutive time frame between the hours of 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM of the following day.

E. Motor vehicle shall be defined as any self-propelled vehicle.

F. The Chief of Police or designee may allow exemptions to any prohibition listed in 245-113

Deputy Mayor Maura Herlihy said she also wished the Subcommittee had gone further, and that trailers and other equipment should be restricted to parking in front of the owner’s property. Councilor Luke Lanigan agreed, saying trailers parked in the street are more dangerous than cars because they don’t have normal bumpers.

Police Chief Craig Andersen said the changes were a compromise that didn’t address everything he wanted to accomplish. He said if there are continued complaints about parking by summer, the Ordinance can be revisited. The new language about sleeping will prohibit people from living in their vehicles in a City-owned parking lot, which the Police Department had no way to deal with before, while still allowing people to take a nap if they are overtired and unsafe to drive.

The subsection on Impoundment also now includes vehicles in violation of the Unlawful Parking subsection. Previously, vehicles in violation could only be ticketed, but not towed.

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