Dan McGowan tweeted the other day about a proposed Emergency Snow Parking Ban ordinance sponsored by City Councilors Correira and Taylor:
Mandatory parking bans in Providence? https://t.co/vp5dUljRbb
— Dan McGowan (@DanMcGowan) March 5, 2019
Here’s is the text of the proposed ordinance:
If, as a result of severe weather, the accumulation of snow and ice on the public ways of the City is expected to be four inches or more, causing or resulting in the parking of vehicles in a position or manner that may impede or prevent public works snow removal vehicles from properly clearing all city roads curb to curb, the director of public works shall implement a parking ban to begin two hours before expected snowfall and end four hours after snowfall has ended.
I’m not really sure what problem this proposal is trying to solve. As far as I can tell, the City has done a pretty good job of accurately implementing parking bans. Generally crews are out pre-treating roadways, a parking ban goes into effect as late as possible, and when the DPW feels they have a good handle on removal, the ban ends as soon as possible.
I feel this proposal is short-sighted for a number of reasons.
Who can accurately predict exactly when 2-hours before the start of at least 4-inches of snow is? “ZOMG! we’re all going to be buried alive!!!” forecasts that turn into a whole lot of nothing are not uncommon.
Do we really need a ban 2-hours before it even starts snowing? Why? Plows don’t plow until there is snow to plow, and often, plowing does not start until a while after snowfall begins. If we’re expecting a long duration snowfall, it does not make sense to be out plowing repeatedly when more snow is coming and streets just need to be plowed again. There is a need at times to keep up with accumulations, but that does not happen 2-hours before it even starts snowing.
I know a lot of business owners, especially restauranteurs, who in previous years have been angry about the City’s early call on parking bans. A ban goes into effect at 5pm, and the “ZOMG!” snowfall never materializes, or doesn’t materialize until much later, and the restaurants are out a night of business for nothing. To my knowledge, business owners have been pleased with the City implementing parking bans later recently, this ordinance would undue all that.
And what about 4-hours after? How many times do we get 4-inches of snow that turns to rain and we wake up to basically nothing on the streets and sidewalks? By ordinance the streets would need to remain closed to parking for 4-hours. Why take away flexibility and discression; what problem is this ordinance trying to solve?
Then there is the question of, do we even need a blanket snow parking ban policy at all? In Boston snow emergencies only apply to major arteries. Those major routes (think North Main Street, Hope Street, Broad Street, Charles Street, etc. in Providence) get a parking ban, while residential streets with permit parking allowed don’t.
Those residential streets get plowed, but not curb-to-curb, and people have to dig out their own cars. This does lead to the notorious spot-saving in Boston, but the city is cracking down on that.
We have residential on-street parking in Providence, which is a good thing because it allows us to build less off-street parking and pave less land for parking in our neighborhoods. However, if we force people off the streets during snow storms, that encourages people to maintain off-street spots.
I fail to see what problem this ordinance solves, if anything, we should be banning off-street parking less, not codifying to ban it more.