Greater City Providence
Street parking on Providence's West Side.

Overnight parking ban repeal information

Street parking on Providence's West Side.

More information about the repeal of the overnight parking ban and institution of overnight parking permits for residents.

The City Council Finance Committee is meeting this evening at 5:30pm to consider the Administration’s plan for overturing 82-year old overnight parking ban.

A Powerpoint presentation given by the Traffic Engineering Department to the City Council Finance Committee is available here for download. That page also has a comment form to submit your comments on the plan directly to the city.

Finally, below is the Administration’s Fact Sheet on the program:

Creating a Framework for Overnight Resident Permit Parking

Lifting the ban on overnight parking and ushering in a modern, efficient program for City residents

As one of America’s densest metropolitan areas, Providence is a growing, thriving place. Overnight resident permit parking will make Providence a more livable city.

A program establishing overnight resident permit parking that is modern, efficient, and enforceable will benefit our City’s residents.

Estimated Timeline

Oct/Nov 2011 Nov/Dec 2011 Dec 2011/Jan 2012 Jan-Mar 2012
Administration and Council work together to pass framework Administration led community education and input period: neighborhood meetings, online engagement Program finalized, implementation begins Official launch of the program

  • Providence’s ban on overnight parking was established in 1929, when the automobile was in its adolescence. 80+ years later, it is time to repeal the outdated ban and bring more rationality to resident parking in our City.
  • The new overnight parking policy will ease the hunt for affordable housing. For many resident car-owners, housing costs often exclude a legal place to park. In the same way, landlords sometimes have difficulty finding tenants when parking is not provided.
  • In many of the City’s neighborhoods yards are paved for parking and residents have lost their ability to have backyard interactions with their neighbors. The overnight resident parking program will allow homeowners to keep their green space, making our neighborhoods more livable.
  • In our City’s neighborhoods where overnight resident permit parking has been a reality for several years, the presence of parked cars has had a traffic-calming effect.
  • The City of Providence is in a unique situation – we have an opportunity to start a permit program from the ground up. This has given us the ability to identify modern technologies and business practices that will benefit our City for years to come.
  • New fee amounts to $8/month ($100/year), a reasonable amount compared to fees charged at private lots or the cost of more than 4 parking tickets.
  • City residents will have the ability to enroll online, by phone or in-person.
  • Permits will be license plate-based and digital. There will be no need to mail stickers or paper permits to residents.
  • Permits are non-transferable and will expire one year from date of purchase. Persons with handicap plates are exempt from annual permit fee.
  • Residency can be established with utility bill, deed, tax bill, or rent receipt. Applicants must also prove that their vehicle is registered in Rhode Island. If a fraudulent address or registration is determined, the permit will be voided.
  • In order to qualify for a permit all outstanding parking tickets and vehicle taxes must be paid.
  • There will be a two-permit limit per household and residents of dorms and apartment buildings with six or more units are not eligible. In addition, commercial vehicles are not eligible.
  • Signs will be posted at the City’s borders, on major streets, and on the borders of permit districts to define zones. Permit districts will mirror the City’s police districts.
  • There is a street opt-out provision included in the City ordinance that establishes the program. If 75% of the residents on a given street with vehicles registered in Rhode Island
  • sign a petition, the street will not be included in the program.
  • The parking ban will remain on all arterial streets like Smith, Broad and Eddy.
  • The City will use digital permit technology for enforcement; the same technology is currently in use for scofflaw enforcement.
  • The program will improve parking compliance as active, consistent enforcement will be a priority.

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.


  • Why are they stupidly requiring the cars be registered in Rhode Island and not get more specific and require it to be Providence? What’s the rationale behind that?

  • I for one have drive a car registered to my business, which is in East Providence, so it would really help me out.

  • Jim, I’m not sure why you keep pounding away at the registered in PVD thing (not even sure what that means…that the registrant’s lives in PVD, I’m guessing).

  • If your car is registered to at a Providence address, then Providence gets to collect the car tax on it. If it is registered in another community, that community collects the car tax while the car is parked on a Providence street.

    I don’t know what the DMV says about in-state registration changes. Do you have to update the address on your registration within a certain time period of moving, like you are supposed to get a Rhode Island drivers license within a certain amount of time after moving to the state?

  • Out of state – “Within 30 days of moving to Rhode Island you must obtain a new title and registration for your vehicle.”

    In state – Maximum 10 days to change address with DMV following moving within state.

  • So Providence is not saying you need to be registered in town, but the DMV seems to be saying you do.

  • There are LOTS of cars registered out of the city so they can not pay the crazy high providence tax and insurance. When I sold my dad’s house I had to legally transfer my residency to Providence and my Tax & insurance both increased by 3 or 4 times. It was huge. I think the cars should be registered in the city. If I’m getting screwed on taxes I sure as hell want to make sure every one else is too. I’m petty.

  • FYI, I got an error email to my address after having sent a comment via the link above.

    Be sure to check your emails for error message if you are also sending comments regarding overnight parking. There will be a link included in the error email to “Whitelist” your email for sending clearance.

  • Are you FUCKING kidding me? They are whitelisting people’s comments?

    Dear Providence, it is 2011. Your email system is 20 years out of date!

  • Message 1:
    Your message to was blocked as spam by Total Control.

    Please follow these instructions to deliver the message:

    1) Click on this link to whitelist your email address:

    2) Resend your message to

    This is a one time challenge — all of your future email to will be delivered!

    Thank you!

    Total Control: Hosted Email Threat Protection —

    Message 2:
    Thank you for verifying your email address with City of Providence.

    While you need to resend your original message, all your future
    emails to will be successfully delivered.

    Thank you!

  • This happened to me several months ago when sending an email to another City Hall office. It may simply be a standard procedure.

  • It should not be standard operating procedure for the 21st century. Putting the onus of spam control on the citizen is simply wrong (and stupid and technologically obsolete) and creates a barrier for communication between residents and the city.

  • All @providenceri addresses require the whitelist procedure. It is a service provided by an outside vendor to the City.

    This is especially frustrating because we do work with the City and our corporate email server modifies the “from” address with a unique numerical identifier prefix, which does not appear to the user on either end, each time a message is sent.. We can whitelist one address, and on attempting to resend, it’s coming from some place else. We are literally unable to send an email to anyone in the City and have to fall back on our personal emails. Gross.

    It makes more sense to me to require vehicles to be registered in town. Will there be any modification to the existing street parking to set aside spaces for registered vehicles? Such as resident parking only areas?

  • Andrew, I’m harping away on that because the city seems to not care about collecting taxes on cars parked on their streets. This is just another way for the city to screw the residents and continue to be stupid about making money for themselves. If the city needs the cost of the permit to be $100 to fill their budget gaps, they sure as hell better be requiring people to have their cars registered in the city so that they can collect even more money to fill those budget gaps.

    If your car is registered at your business which is in another town, too bad. If they’re going to have a registration requirement, it needs to be within the city. Period. No question. Anything else is just a waste of time.

    I am guessing, however, that the reason it’s RI in general and not specifically Providence is because it’s just easier for them to scan the plates and see that they’re RI license plates. It’s taking the easy way out and screwing the city of potential tax dollars.

    So yes, I have a serious problem with that because I’m following the laws of the DMV (which never actually checks to make sure that you’ve changed the registration of your car), and I’m getting screwed for it. Why should other people who are not be allowed to park on the street that Providence pays for when they’re not paying proper taxes to the city?

  • Plus, Andy did not actually send an email, it was converted from a webform and transformed into an email, but Andy himself did not open his email client and compose a message to So that whitelist message is completely meaningless to him.

    I assume Andy is web savvy enough that when he got that whitelist message he connected it to the webform he submitted (obviously, since we’re talking about it now), but someone who is not as savvy could get that message and say, “what, I never sent an email to, what is this?” Ignore it, then their message would never get through.

    Even if we were to accept that a whitelist protocol is necessary, it tells you to resend your message, Andy did not send a message, he filled out a webform, did he save his comment to his hard drive so that he can resend it? I doubt it. Does everyone read that entire message carefully and understand they need to resend their message, not just click the whitelisting link? I doubt it.

    If I can run this website with a combination of a spam filter and captcha (themselves less than ideal I admit), and block 99.5% of my spam while allowing 99.5% of legitimate posts through with no human intervention, than I think the city can find a solution as well.

    PS: Andy’s message was blocked by this site’s spam control because it looked too spammy.

  • The Whitelist thing is some seriously 1997 spam control. Totally ridiculous (especially on a web form!). Every crappy free web email app has top notch Spam control at this point. The city is entirely out of touch with modern technology. I wonder what we pay the vendor for this fantastic service? I wonder if they can bundle it with a plate scanning truck and get that permit fee up to $200.

  • Thanks Jef, I hadn’t realized the origin message was from a webform. That is pretty lame.

  • Jim, that makes sense. If there were a city registration requirement, it seems that enforcement would be easy: no permit is issued unless your vehicle is registered in the city. When the plates are scanned, a database is queried to to find that plate, and if the plate doesn’t have a parking permit, or the address is not a city address, ticket.

    The problem could be jurisdictional: the city collects taxes based on an address collected by the state. If the state has little interest in enforcing this law, what can the city do? The city needs the revenue from the parking permits, so its in its best interest to make it as easy as possible for car owners to get the permit.

    I still don’t get the huffiness over the price. $8 a month? Please. That’s 4 rides on RIPTA. 4 rides!

  • @Andrew – I cant believe the *lack* of outrage over the price. I’m still wondering what makes a spot in Providence worth 400% of what a spot in Chicago costs.

  • @Liam, there’s isn’t an outrage over the price because this program doesn’t change anything for most people. I can’t park on the street now, and when I don’t buy a permit I still can’t park on the street.

  • @Andrew: I don’t think the problem is jurisdictional. The address is collected by the state, but you could live in Providence and have your car registered elsewhere. While the city might need the money from the permits, it’s just as easy to register your car in the city. That’s instantly a crapload more money for the city than a $100 permit. And the city needs that kind of money more than the $100 permit. If you live in the city and have a permit to park on the city streets, you damn well better be a Providence taxpayer. Otherwise, the city is losing out on revenue they should be getting anyway.

    While it’s nearly impossible to actually enforce the state’s law about making sure your car is registered to where you live, it’s pretty easy to make sure that a car registering for a permit is registered in Providence.

    And with regards to the price of the permit… not only is it 400% of what Chicago costs, but it’s also 400% of what it currently costs in the areas that have permit parking. That’s where the outrage should come in. You have these people paying $25 for an overnight parking permit in various parts of the city. All of a sudden, and just because the city decided the pilot was a success (probably in part because it was only $25), they’re jacking up the price 400%.

  • @Jim, but that’s exactly what I mean by “jurisdictional” (maybe not the right term in this case): what benefit does the state get from ensuring that residents keep their address current? Cities rely on information gathered by the state to tax vehicles of its residents. There just isn’t an incentive to enforce the law. Certainly, the city could require a PVD address on the vehicle reg to get the parking permit…but I don’t think this program will take off, because parking in the city is “fine” with out it.

    On the cost: aren’t we constantly talking about how the automobile lifestyle of this country is in part subsidized by artificially low costs? One of those artificially low costs is vehicle-related municipal taxes and fees. What do you think your car tax bill would look like without Federal dollars that come to the city (through the state) to support our streets, roads? Furthermore, I don’t think its good to compare Providence taxes and fees to Chicago’s. Maybe another sizeable city?

    Again, the price is great. It should be more. Or better yet, the money should go to a capital improvement fund for bicycle or other public transportation infrastructure…though the whole point of the permit is to plug budget holes.

  • The RI-ACLU does not like the plate scanning part of this proposal.

    ACLU Raises Privacy Concerns Over Providence License Plate Scanning Plan

    The RI ACLU has urged the Providence City Council to reject a proposal by Mayor Angel Taveras to authorize a private company to use car-mounted license-plate scanners to enforce overnight parking laws. The proposal, part of the Mayor’s plan for a permanent overnight parking permit program, would authorize a private vendor to use specially-equipped vehicles to automatically scan license plates, checking them against a registration database and flagging those cars parked overnight without a permit.

    In a letter sent Thursday to the City Council, the ACLU said that the scanners were “unnecessary” and raised “significant privacy and other concerns.” The letter stated: “The use of car-mounted license plate scanners, particular when an officer or traffic-enforcement official is easily capable of looking for a sticker in a window, represents another step towards increased focus on surveillance and recording the movements of individuals.”

    The letter questioned whether “any significant discussions of controls” had occurred to protect the private motor vehicle information that the company would have access to, or to limit retention, storage or dissemination of the images captured by the scanners. The letter also called it “inappropriate for a private company to receive a portion of the revenues gained from overnight parking penalties, as it provides an incentive to encourage parking violations instead of minimizing their occurrence.”

    The Mayor has touted the proposal as a way to raise money, but the ACLU pointed out that when Providence instituted red light camera ticketing, the City lost almost one million dollars in the first two years of the program, with much of the revenue going directly to the company maintaining the equipment. The ACLU concluded: “The urge to use the newest technology is tempting, but automated licensed plate readers simply place too much data mining power in the hands of private vendors and those who breach their systems.”

    I had not heard that the city lost money on the red light cameras. Did we lose $1 million as in $1 million came out of the budget and went to the private vendor, or $1 million of the revenue raised went to the vendor?

    It should also be noted, the City has been scanning plates to find cars that have multiple violations in order to boot them for some time now. The scanning would not be something new that came about as a result of the permit program.

  • It’s probably good that the ACLU is all over this. If they’re going to scan plates (seems like a good idea), I don’t see why the city’s parking enforcement can’t do the scanning. At least they’re accountable to the citizenry.

    Also, I was under the impression that the vender was being paid from the fee ($18 of each permit) not the fees gathered from ticketing…

  • feels very much like a program set up to fail, so that the city can say “hey, we tried, but you people decided you didn’t want it.” so disappointing.

  • Unfortunately, we live in an auto-centric world and many people actually need their cars. They cannot afford to move from where they are and they cannot afford to quit their jobs elsewhere (often in places not served by public transportation) to get jobs closer to home. Many people have spouses that work in the opposite direction, in places also not served by public transportation. While it would be great to have better public transportation (and I agree that any revenue that comes from motor vehicles should go directly towards infrastructure and public transportation), it needs to be affordable for people to own vehicles as well. If you think our motor vehicle taxes are too low, then I’m done here. I pay lots of money to the federal government as well. If they reduced taxes and then reduced payments to the states for transportation, our state taxes would just increase (either that or RIPTA would just lose all funding, which would most likely be the case in RI).

    As for the vendor, I think they get both a cut of the permit and a cut of the fines from ticketing. That’s a big reason why I wonder why we even need to pay a vendor. We have the people. We have the cars. If a vendor says that they just need 2 cars to scan the whole city in a night, why can’t we have 2 parking enforcement cars scan the whole city at night? The money would be entirely for Providence rather than some vendor.

    I’m with Jen… it sounds like they don’t want it to succeed… except that everything I’ve seen on Twitter and Facebook from Matt Jerzyk, who apparently works for the city, says that they’re depending on this to fill budget holes (which is a terrible, terrible reason for doing this).

  • Here’s what I wrote last month on Councilman David Salvatore’s Facebook wall when he asked, “Quick Poll: Should parking tickets be used as a revenue generator?”

    This was about parking enforcement in general, not just overnight.

    Perhaps the question should be: “*Are parking tickets being used as a revenue generator?”

    The City has costs associated with providing on street parking to private automobiles. In order to make space for parked cars, roads are made one or two lanes wider than they need to be to allow for the free flow of traffic. This is a cost that the city and/or RIDOT incurs when building a road (which in Providence is infrequently, but we’ll be building roads on the 195 land soon). When a road is repaired or resurfaced that extra blacktop needs to be replaced too. And when the City plows snow, it plows not only the travel lanes but the parking lanes too.

    The City needs to pay for parking enforcement, if we removed all enforcement, people would park wherever they liked, that is human nature. We can all say that we would be conscientious and not park at fire hydrants or on sidewalks… but someone would and we need enforcement for that.

    If we allowed free parking with no time limits, people would park all day. There would be no turnover, and no parking spaces would free up during the day for retail customers. If that’s what we want, we can do that. But if we want turnover, even if we made parking free, we have to limit the time. Therefore, we need enforcement, enforcement costs money. And what form would enforcement take if not a fine associated with a ticket?

    Even so-called free parking is not free. The vast parking lots in the suburbs require the retailer to acquire land to build the lot, build and maintain the lot just as the city needs to maintain lanes for parking on roads, and assume liability for the parking lot. Those costs are not passed on directly, you don’t have to pay a meter to park, but they are added to the costs of goods and services.

    There are environmental costs to the pavement we lay down to provide storage for automobiles. Last year’s floods would have been much less severe were it not for the amount of paved land in our watersheds and the paved land shedding water directly into our rivers. The various cities and towns and the federal government are now addressing that through mitigation such as buying homes in flood prone areas.

    We need to quantify all those costs and then ask, are we charging enough for parking?

    At least from a market perspective, I think we are not charging enough for parking. If on-street parking costs were so onerous, and all the people who proclaim they will never pay to park on the street didn’t, then the free market would respond to that. The vast number of surface lots and semi-public garages throughout the Downcity area would embrace a populace fleeing the tyranny of on-street parking prices. The fact that barely any lots offer off-street parking for 15 minutes to an hour that would compete with on-street parking indicates to me that there is no demand for that.

    Yes, we’ve built a society over the last half century that is dependent on the private automobile. Regardless of whether one owns a car or not, we all pay for it in capital or degradation to our environment or worse. I submit that the cities that are charging $20/year (or nothing) for parking private vehicles in the public right-of-way are perpetuating the passage of that cost from the primary user onto the rest of us.

    When the cost of our automobile dominated environment is taken in totality, $100/year to park your car on the street does not remotely even begin to cover it.

  • Definitely with you on that one, Jef. I can’t think of anything that is cheap enough to come in at $100 per year in my budget. Maybe the amount I spend on onions, limes, and avocados to make fresh guacamole per year?

  • Restricting parking to reduce crime [WPRI]

    Apparently there is a real problem in Central Falls with parked cars committing crimes overnight.

    Let’s see if Central Falls actually sees a reduction in crime after banning parked cars. They’re also throwing out that fire truck responding nonsense. Again, if a fire truck can’t get down a street at night, then parking should be banned at that location 24 hours a day.

  • Was listening to a podcast this weekend about San Francisco’s experiment with a city-wide parking system. The city would dynamically control the pricing of all parking (on-street, lots, and garages) with a system of sensors that would know when spaces are filled. The sensor thing is not feasible for Providence, but SF’s idea that on-street parking should be THE MOST EXPENSIVE parking spaces did…the idea is that on-street parking is a luxury, and that people should be encouraged to park in lots and garages FIRST.

  • The reduction in crime is theoretical at best. Inconvenience for actual non-criminal people who have it rough enough without new parking hassles or expense is 100% real. Those people are not real to CFs new unelected managers.

  • Is on street parking a luxury? Some don’t see it that way. If anything, I would say garage parking is more of a luxury. Your car is covered (unless on the top floor) and in a managed and, often, monitored space. On the street, your car is exposed to the elements and the general public. The only on street parking that is a luxury is when it’s really close to your destination.

    I do like the idea of sensors and dynamic pricing. And I love the idea of the city regulating all parking, even if they don’t manage the lots and garages.

    But none of this is really related to the overnight parking issue.

Providence, RI
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