Greater City Providence

We STILL can’t get overnight parking done

Parking Sign

I can’t believe I’m writing about this, still. Last month word on the street was that overnight parking was part of the Mayor’s budget and the whole Council was on board, now…

Well, allowing overnight parking is in the budget (in the budget because it is a revenue generator through permits), but there is a small ordinance amendment needed at the Council level. Now, all of a sudden, the Finance Committee isn’t so sure this is a good idea.

People, we’re the only major city that bans overnight parking, and by overnight, I mean 2am to 5am, THREE HOURS! What in Maude’s name does the Finance Committee think is going to happen if residents are allowed to park their cars on the streets for 3 hours in the middle of the night?

As with all the nonsense in our fair city, there is a Facebook Group that is rallying troops to lobby the Council on this issue and there is a Citizen Speak petition which you can sign.

If you need me I’ll be paving my yard just in case.

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • They’ve suddenly realize that if they approve overnight parking, everyone will see they’ve torn down all those buildings for parking lots that no one needs anymore..

  • Honestly, if they can’t get this very small thing done, how, in the name of all that is holy, can they get this city back on track?

  • As I stroll around the neighborhood early in the morning on the empty streets I admire the cars parked on the front lawns of my neighbors and think thank god they aren’t parked on the street as that would be a true eyesore.

    I urge you to support the providence tradition of fully paving residential lots and parking on front lawns. Anything else is an abandonment of the parking ideals the we the citizens of Providence hold so dear.

  • I’d actually move it from the city level out to the state. Instead of a staffed ‘parking office’, have the DMV issue different ‘overnight’ registration renewal stickers; make them cost more, and kick the difference back to Providence.

    Are you sure the overnight parking is a ‘revenue generator’ if it needs a separate city office and the staffing to go with it? AT least pushing it up to the DMV would eliminate the overhead and open the overnight parking options up for residents of far corners of the state to park here (perhaps if they drink too much or are visiting relatives/friends).

  • It seems to me the easy solution is to institute an alternate side of the street system for overnight (2 am to 5 am) parking. If it’s an odd numbered day park on the odd numbered side of the street. Even day, even side. It always keeps one side open to create greater width for emergency vehicles and allows for street sweeping or other maintenance. Variations can be instituted for streets that only allow parking on one side on a case-by-case basis.

    No permitting, no overhead, just some education and a modification in enforcement.

  • If there’s parking on both sides of the street during the day, why should all of a sudden emergency vehicles be impeded by parking on both side of the street at night?

  • I tend to agree with you, but once in a while folks park directly across from each other and use their full distance from the curb allotment. When I’ve complained about the lack of overnight parking before (just to other residents, not to the actual City), Emergency vehicles are generally the first response. We live on a narrow street and with the conditions above in place, have had firetrucks lay on the horn until someone comes out to move a car during the day. If that really is a concern of the city, I think my solution addresses the problem and allows a schedule for overnight sweeping.

    If it’s not a concern or the fire isn’t at my house I agree, go for the full two-sided parking.

  • I’ll have to admit that I’m of two minds on the overnight parking issue. I hate to see the paved-over lawns, but I’m also not a fan of streets lined with parked cars. I lived in Boston for a few years, and biking past all of those parked cars could be a little hairy. These days, I always ride my bike outside of the “door zone” so I won’t get hit by someone carelessly flinging open their door. When (if) we get overnight parking, all the streets will be lined with cars and the cyclists will have to be further out into the street to avoid the door zone. I think that on balance, it will be worth it to start eliminating the paved-over yard phenomenon, but there will be a trade-off.

  • If we allow parking on both sides of the street at 1:59am then it can’t be a problem at 2:01am. If emergency vehicle access is a problem, it is a problem all day every day and changing the geometry of the street to solve it should be investigated.

    “Emergency Vehicles” is simply an argument that people who don’t want overnight parking use to justify their position.

  • carfreepvd, the current ban is from 2am to 5am, there are not many people out on their bikes at that time, and most of the doors aren’t opening, they’re closed for the night. Our existing condition is that cars can and do park on the street during waking hours. Lifting the 3 hour ban will do nothing to further imperil cyclists.

  • I agree wholeheartedly that parking not being allowed to park on the street overnight in Providence is rediculous. The cars crammed into yards increases visual and runoff pollution. That being said, a street is a valuable asset of the city’s. By removing the parking ban, Providence’s crazy drivers would park anywhere and everywhere. The city is also in the midst of a fiscal crisis. Overnight onstreet parking should be offered as a service to residents and visitors and a revenue generator for the city. $10 a night, $50 a week, $100 a month, $500 for the year. You have to be a resident (pay Providence car tax) to get the year pass. Even side of the street on even calendar days, odd side on odd calendar days. You could only park on designated streets (so that thoroughfares are left open for emergency vehicles and snow removal). Problem solved!

  • Funny, I got a parking ticket at this sign once even though I was parked behind the arrow and the rest of the sign isn’t legible. Dumb.
    Some city departments aren’t underfunded, they just have lazy-morons running the show.

  • Jeff, I disagree: Sure the current ban is only from 2AM to 5AM, but if the ban is removed, you can be certain that more cars will be parked on the streets at all times. It’s not like people are parking their cars on the streets right now, moving them to an off-street space at 1:59 and then putting them back on the street again at 5:01. In a post-ban world, people will get home from work, park their cars on the street, and leave them there until the morning – probably 10-15 hours at a stretch.
    On balance, I think that lifting the ban will be a good thing, but not 100% good. Then again, I don’t have a car (oh, have I mentioned that? 😉

  • Really, we won’t know what happens, until it happens, though we’ve been running pilots in 2 neighborhoods for decades now (well, a few years actually), and those neighborhoods have not devolved into chaos, nor have the other cities that allow overnight parking.

    Certainly people are not moving their cars now for those 3 hours, people have parking somewhere. Many of those people will keep parking where they park now. I don’t envision a magical depaving of yards across the city. The cost of depaving, coupled with the loss of rent from advertising an apartment with off-street perking vs. an apartment without will probably keep most landlords with their yards happily paved.

    People who are paying for off-street parking might like the option of the reduced cost of a permit, though they may not see the savings vs. the hassle of finding off-street parking appealing. People who currently have to stack their parking will probably welcome the option to park in the street and not have to shuffle cars in the AM.

    Also, a big problem on the West Side is the paved lot. Many houses on Federal Hill don’t have a yard to pave, so houses mysteriously catch fire or fall down somehow and the now blank parcel gets paved. There is no option to parking off-street, so this rule creates a condition where this is a necessary action.

    I think the off-street parking will benefit future development, someone who buys a triple-decker will not have to immediately pave the yard to be attractive to tenants for example, and we will move toward a culture where off-street parking is not the end all and be all of a housing unit’s attractiveness to buyers.

    I do not own a car either, and am considering, if I can swing it financially, buying a home (condo, what-have-you) soon. As a non-car owner, in this city, I would still be loathe to buy a unit without off-street parking as the resale of said propery would be hurt. If our culture changes, then that concern lessens. Though a unit without off-street parking will always command less income, the same holds even in New York and Boston and other large transit oriented cities, no parking is not the deal breaker in those cities that it is here though.

  • If it were up to me, we would just pave Johnston and everyone would park there.

  • The most legitimate argument I’ve heard against overnight parking is that it will make it easier to own and operate a car in Providence. It will eliminate the inconveniences of finding off-street parking. That said, I still think the impact will only be a handful of cars. People who wanna drive do it no matter what. The answer to enticing people out of car-ownership is providing quality transit and encouraging mixed-use development. Most people have off-street parking anyway, and for security and convenience, they prefer parking in their driveway. We are not talking about very many cars. The street is already paved, the space is there. Let’s stop turning yards and houses into lots. People who are fortunate enough to have a single-family home with a 2-car driveway don’t want it because the problem doesn’t apply to them.

  • Yeah, buying a property that doesn’t have off-street parking is a concern for re-sale. I hate it that we have to consider things like that when looking to buy a home. It means that homes end up with stuff that the owners don’t really need. Like granite.

    I think paving Johnston is the only real solution for this.

  • Is it an issue that landowners who rent out paking spaces for overnight parking are opponents of changing the rules? When I was renting an apt in PVD we had to pay exyra for a space. The landlords might hate to give up this additional revenue.

    I note all the paving over of yards since I came to Providence in 1966. One consequence is the increased runoff from paved surfaces, one factor that required the massive Bay Commission tunnels to handle the runoff, And, adding to the insult, the Bay Commission doesn’t evev charge anything for the additional runoff..

  • When cars on parked on both sides of my street a fire truck can’t get through. I have seen it first hand in the middle of the day. The truck was blowing its air horn for two minutes until someone came out and moved a car. Backing up was out of the question because it meant backing up an entire city block. If it were the middle of the night, I don’t know how long it would’ve taken.

    I think that every street should be looked at and any streets that are too narrow should have parking limited to 1 side 24 hours a day, and seven days a week. Whether its a fixed side like north side on east-west streets and east side on north-south streets, or alternating sides on odd and even days like someone here proposed is fine with me.

  • Dan: Jeff’s right that if allowing both sides is an issue for emergency vehicles, as we have seen, it should probably be addressed regardless of the time of day. Having alternating sides overnight is still advantageous for sweeping and snow plowing if the maintenance is done correctly.

  • Jef’s right about the both sides of the street. I live on a very narrow street. I recently rented a 30′ RV to go on a trip. I had it parked in front of my house for about an hour the day I left and the day I returned. I managed to get it down my very narrow street that had cars parked on both sides. If I, a non-professional driver, can manage to maneuver such a large vehicle down my street between cars parked directly across from each other, I am sure an emergency vehicle can do the same, as they are trained drivers. The only times I would consider having a one-side ban is during the month of April when street sweeping is taking place (yes, this would force the city to commit to street sweeping in a month), and really divide the city into quadrants and enforce it for 1 week in each quadrant. And during the winter to allow for plowing and sanding/salting of the streets.

    I live in a house that has a driveway and a garage. I can’t really use the garage because it is narrow and it serves as a storage shed. We have 2 cars. If we squeeze tightly, we can possibly fit 4 cars in my driveway (assuming they are smaller cars). I look forward to having on-street parking as I occasionally have overnight visitors. It will be nice to be able to just park in the street. While I technically don’t need it for myself, I would pay for a permit for both of our cars.

    I don’t see this as saying “bring more cars to Providence”. I don’t see it as a cause for more people to drive everywhere (if I was going out and I knew I’d be getting back between 2 and 5, I’d drive anyway, since there is no public transportation).

    I believe it is still an issue for landowners who charge rent for parking spaces. Once upon a time there was a web forum called UrbanPlanet that some of us belonged to. There was a landlord who had that exact issue. But who cares? It’s not a legitimate reason, in my opinion.

    Oh, and a quick aside… I was visiting New Haven the past couple days. A friend of mine lives in a house that has no driveway on a small side street. Next to the house was a small yard (no backyard, just on the side to the street). As I was standing in that yard, a thought crossed my mind… if that was in Providence, I would have been standing on pavement, not grass and there would be no garden, flowers, or tree. It would have been paved over to allow for parking.

    One other quick aside… I lived in a small 2 family house (it was basically a converted 1 family). It had a driveway, but the landlord only allowed 1 apartment access to the driveway. The other apartment parked up on the curb in a grass lot on the side of the house next door (which is where the landlord lived). Yeah, I was that guy that parked on the grass lot. It sucked in the winter because shoveling grass sucks. It probably threw my wheels out of alignment because I had to drive up the curb. Had there been overnight parking, I would have just left my car in the street.

  • In addition to cooking water, you have The Heat Island Effect created by paved over backyards should also be a major concern, with the aggregate effect of raising Providence’s temperature several degrees. Yeah, this isn’t any good. I’m going to write the Finance Committee.

Providence, RI
5:33 am8:10 pm EDT
Feels like: 70°F
Wind: 2mph N
Humidity: 95%
Pressure: 30.08"Hg
UV index: 0
82°F / 61°F
86°F / 63°F
86°F / 66°F