Greater City Providence

ProJo: ‘Shadow parking’ now a problem on former Route 195 land

“If people can access the parcel, they’re parking on it,” [Route 195 Redevelopment District Commission Chairman Colin] Kane told the commission Monday night at its regular meeting. “I’m guilty myself.”

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.


  • The comments section on the Projo is a-buzz with people who are not pissed off that people are leaving their cars in the space, but rather that the city or the state would try to keep them out. Why free parking is really a hard idea to explain to people, isn’t it? I wonder what can be done to better get the word out about why this matters.

  • Yes, “it is State land, so I should be able to park there.”

    So is the State House lawn. So is the prison yard at the ACI. So is Matunuck Beach. Let’s park at those places too.

  • Then there’s this from Patrick Anderson at PBN:

  • A WPRI report indicated that most of the “shadow parking” was happening down along Point Street (though they referred to Waterman Street in the article). Most of the 195 land is surrounded by slabs of granite that keep cars from entering.

    But it appears RIDOT has purpose built a driveway right here:

    RIDOT could just drop a slab of granite there and crisis averted. While they’re at it, they could build a sidewalk along Benefit Street from Point Street to Pike Street so people can access the waterfront without a car.

  • In lieu of a trolley system or something similar, and with half the parking pay stations broken, you can’t begrudge people for taking a free spot. Personally I prefer to walk or take the bus, but it’s not always an option. Point being: I think it’s more productive to focus on long-term solutions. And in the meantime, what harm is done by a few dozen cars on the grass?

  • The harm is obvious. If and when the magical 195 Commission decides to do something there, the hue and cry over the perceived removal of entitled parking will not only cause delays in development, but will probably cause whatever it is to have more parking that it possibly needs in order to accommodate people who have been parking their illegally all along. That’s the harm, and if you don’t think that could be a realistic outcome, then just google Cluck! for the grief she’s been going through trying to redevelop an old gas station and the appeal to a higher court by a local church who thinks they have the right to illegally park on land not theirs.

  • Yes, the fact that people feel entitled to free, on-site parking in a densely populated city is a big problem, made worse when ‘the parking lobby’ is vindicated by the courts as in the case of Cluck’s neighbors. All I’m saying is that it’s not really the fault of people with cars…most people will take the path of least resistance. I mean ‘what’s the harm’ in a relative sense, because the real problem is that the lack of mass transit infrastructure and the ease with which developers break promises and ignore zoning laws which are anemic to begin with.

  • Other than the recent downtown zoning change, which outlawed surface parking lots as a permitted use, everywhere else the zoning is destructive in its promotion of cars and parking. Where the zoning is anemic is how it imposes suburban like densities, height limits, minimum lot sizes and coverage more characteristic of the suburbs. If Providence was rebuilt from scratch by the current zoning book, it would look more like East Providence or Cranston. As long as even temporary parking is allowed or permitted, there will be no reason or incentive to improve mass transit.

  • This is a bit off topic, but I know of a hispanic family who invested their entire savings into buying and rehabbing a turn-of-the-century tenement on Eddy St. The house looks a lot like the Coffee Exchange building and with a similar lot size; and their plan was to turn the ground floor into a cafe. But, because of that neighborhood’s zoning laws, which require a minimum of 4 parking spaces for such a business (I could be wrong on the numbers), they were not able to follow through on their plans. So, no coffee shop! Meanwhile, there are 2 liquor stores and a check-cashing spot in the vicinity, and the neighborhood remains plagued by drugs, crime, and johns.

    A consequence of being locked into the worst planning decisions of the past!

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