Six Zones Of Nonsense, The Time has Come To Re-Boot
By William Legault
Long ago, in a day when the numbers of college students and the amount of registered motor vehicles were a lot less than they are today, somebody came up with a brilliant idea to solve what was then a very local problem.
Residents in the immediate vicinity of what was then Salem State College were having trouble with students parking in front of their homes and businesses. At the time the parking available for the students was less than what was needed and much of it was not what the students considered close enough to campus. Their solution was to park on the streets close to the main campus and shorten their own walks. Gee, that sounds familiar.
The solution was the resident parking program which created a zone where only residents with the properly purchased windshield decal could park. In order to obtain this sticker you had to prove legal residence within the zone. Problem solved.
It wasn’t long however, before residents on streets close to the zone noticed that the students were now parking on their streets. Complaints ensued and the zone was expanded. Soon thereafter residents of other neighborhoods decided that this program was just what they also needed. So more zones were created, and then expanded in response to those on nearby streets who witnessed the parking being squeezed onto their streets.
There are those today who are asking for further expansions.
Now, all of these years later, this solution has grown into an insatiable beast who threatens to devour the entire city. The beast is not only voracious in appetite, but has also bred greedy off-spring who have figured out that there is a small profit to be made in retail by renting or selling the guest passes which can be purchased for a dollar by anyone who has obtained the ten-dollar resident parking pass.
It is time for this entire program to be consigned to the scrap bin as it no longer makes sense. Yesterdays solution has proved itself inadequate for todays problem. The enforcement is scattershot at best for both budgetary and man-hour reasons. The police have better things to do than look for parking stickers, and the parking department just does not have the manpower, or to be honest, the needed expertise.
If you live live on a main street, or a state highway you don’t qualify as a resident parker as it is only for side streets. If you live on Derby Street or Essex Street, you cannot park on Daniels Street or Hardy Street. Unless of course, you live on the corner, in which case you can get a sticker for your car. That is the only exemption. Except, of course if you happen to live in a house next door to the house on the corner, in which case maybe you can get one. Did you follow that? I’m not sure that I do.
Crombie Street is a great example of the cited exemption not being an exemption at all. Those that live in the building on the corner of Crombie and Essex Streets do not qualify, because there are too many residents there. It doesn’t help that Crombie is a street with split parking designations. The first eight spots are metered for four hours. The rest of the street is resident parking which provides less spots than there are legal resident parkers. Federal Street and Hawthorne Boulevard are other examples of the Salem resident parking puzzle. The Boulevard is the Gordian Knot of Salem Parking with metered parking, business parking, resident parking, and designated hours for non-resident parking.
A couple of years ago Ward Two Councillor Heather Famico attempted to address this through the council but it was shot down over the objections of some of the more experienced councillors. There was a vigorous defense mounted of its details, history and accomplishments.
Its primary accomplishment has been to pit streets and neighborhoods against each other, which has resulted in six convoluted colored zones which make little sense to anybody with a lick of sense. It is our own Da Vinci Code. Take a look at Zone C, it is actually six separate zones that do to connect at any point (see the link below). Why would one side street off of Bridge have resident parking, but not the following one, while the street afterwards does?
Another accomplishment is it prohibits residents who pay taxes on their homes and motor vehicles from parking in front of their own properties if they don’t live there. If that sounds odd ask a friend who owns a rental property somewhere while living elsewhere in the city.
This program is a vestige of the old-school and needs to pass into memory. Re-boot the whole thing to reflect the modern world that we live in.