Legislation would allow overnight parking

Posted 3/15/23

Councilwoman Aniece Germain plans to unveil legislation at the March 27 City Council meeting that would allow on street parking between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Under city code any street parking …

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Legislation would allow overnight parking


Councilwoman Aniece Germain plans to unveil legislation at the March 27 City Council meeting that would allow on street parking between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Under city code any street parking exceeding two hours between the hours of 1 and 7 a.m. is illegal. Fines for violations of this law can be dismissed by a judge at their discretion or, if not dismissed, can be assessed at no less than $20 and no more than $39.

“Why aren’t we doing anything about this overnight parking situation,” asked Councilwoman Aniece Germain when she started receiving letters from residents of her ward with no place to park overnight. “That’s when I realized it's my ward that is being more affected by it. It’s really not a big issue for anyone else, even when there are some parking tickets issued in Ward 1 or Ward 2, it’s really in Ward 2 that people are being most affected.”

With Ward 2 more densely populated than other wards, parking can be harder to find for residents. Police Chief Col. Winquist said that the majority of tickets written for parking on the street during these hours are the direct result of people calling the police to report their neighbors for violating the parking ordinances.

“I don’t know what the solution is,” Col. Winquist said. “I’m not the deciding factor, but I’ve given my opinion on why I think that public safety-wise it’s better for no cars on the street at that time. It’s easier for us to patrol, identify suspicious vehicles and when parking bans do happy we already spend so much time knocking on doors (because of cars parked on the road) that I do think that there would be more people on the street when that happens.”

Germain said that the injustice for residents without enough parking is too blatant to close your eyes. Councilwoman Germain originally docketed legislation last October, but due to concerns of the council it was asked that it be tabled. Knowing that tabling the legislation would stop any further discussion for months, Germain chose to withdraw the legislation with the hope of working on it and resubmitting it sooner.

“What is happening on our streets between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m.,” Germain asked. “Tell me. Why are those the hours it’s dangerous to have a car on the street? It’s not. It’s really not.”

More people, more cars

With the pandemic we had a change in the way people live, Germain explained as she discussed her plans for the new legislation in a Saturday interview. She said in many cases are more people are living in residences than there were before, and that these people need to be able to park their cars nearby and safely.

“I think we’re stuck in a status quo,” Germain explained. “This is how it was 20 years ago, 30 years ago. People think it has to stay the same, but it shouldn’t. By not allowing permits, or what I’m proposing is really just to regulate parking, we are leaving people with no choice to park. People are being made to keep their cars running. They have to keep the car running and warm so that the police won’t ticket them for just parking in front of their home.”

When asked about the legislation, Chief of Staff Anthony Moretti doesn’t see the need to change the current ordinance.

“There are a slew of, particularly, public works concerns,” Moretti said. “You get the majority of your snow storms at night when it’s colder temperatures. We’re plowing roads and it’s going to be more apt to have people leaving their cars on the street. You can say no they can’t be, and in an ideal world they would be off the road, and I don’t know where they’re gonna put their cars cuz they’re used to doing what they’re doing. There will be more cars on the road. Street sweeping, the same thing”

Germain’s legislation would allow parking on one side of public roads overnight, barring one way streets or those that are too narrow to accommodate such parking safely. It would also change the range of applicable fines by increasing the minimum fine, when not dismissed, from $20 to $50 while raising the maximum fine applicable to $60.

Germain’s hope is that by increasing the fines applicable to using the new parking scheme people would be more careful about parking illegally and accruing even greater fines. In order to use the new parking created by the legislation, residents of Cranston will have to apply for a permit. Permits, according to the newly written ordinances, would allow one parking permit to be applied for by owners of single-family and multi-family homes that house four adults with valid drivers licenses. It would also allow owners of homes with no on property parking to apply for one permit per unit in the home. 

Creating new parking is more costly than one might expect, according to Col. Winquist. He said that in order to safely create parking, companies would need to be hired to perform surveys on streets in Cranston to figure out which could safely provide parking without blocking traffic or parking spots while also taking concerns for emergency vehicles into account.

Germain said she plans to address these concerns by having language in her bill that specifies that parking shall not be allowed on one-way streets or those too narrow for passage as well as wording to keep new parking from being in the way of driveways while parked.

“I’ve had so many people write me,” Germain explained. “This woman has her son who can’t afford to live at college, he must drive there. She and her husband work. Her mother is living there to take care of her special needs daughter. That’s four cars, and she does not have parking for four cars. Those four people live in that house. There is a genuine need for this.”

With all of Rhode Island facing issues with having enough affordable housing stories like this have only become more common. More adults living in a home, in a state where public transport can turn a ten minute drive into a two hour trip,  has become common and not having a car is often not an option.

“Do I want to see it that we can reduce the number of cars on the road,” Germain asked. “Of course I do. Over time. But right now these people need help, they need a place to park their cars so they do not leave them running overnight. So they do not have to worry about paying tickets they can’t afford.”

parking, overnight


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