It’s a general consensus among City officials that parking and traffic are among the greatest challenges facing Chelsea.
But the best way to help ease clogged streets and ensure residents aren’t endlessly circling their block to find an open parking spot are open to debate.
The latest proposal is an ordinance introduced by City Council President DamaliVidot and District 1 Councillor Robert Bishop seeking a change in the City’s off-street parking requirements.
Under the proposal, the residents of any development or housing that is granted relief by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) from the City’s parking requirements won’t be eligible to participate in the residential permit parking sticker program. Already, in Everett, City officials at their ZBA have been requiring new developments or expanded housing units in triple deckers to not participate in their parking sticker program. That tool has proven quite successful over past several months.
The Chelsea proposal will head to the Planning Board for a recommendation before coming back for a public hearing before the City Council.
“This will require any developer that comes into the city to put their money where their mouth is by asking tenants not to participate in the City parking program,” said Vidot.
Bishop said it is unfair that larger developments come into the city and ask for and are granted well below the 1.5 parking spaces per unit required by the City.
“There are too many units and not enough parking,” said Bishop. “Where do you think all those cars go? They go all over the streets, that’s where they go.
“There is very little parking even in areas where there was once parking. This is something we should have done years ago.”
District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero said that while developers promote the use of Ubers, Lyfts, and public transportation, the fact is that more development brings more cars into the city.
“There are more cars being registered in our city, our streets can’t support all the cars,” Recupero said.
If developers want to build in Chelsea, Recupero said they should do like they do in Boston and provide parking underneath the units.
Several councillors said there are still some questions about the proposal made by Vidot and Bishop.
Councillor-At-Large Roy Avellaneda asked what would happen with condominiums, where there are owners as opposed to tenants. He also questioned what would happen if developers did provide required parking.
“If they meet the conditions and there are 15 spots for 10 units, would we still allow the parking sticker?” he asked.
Avellaneda said he is supportive of working out more details for a parking plan, and also noted that many of the biggest parking issues come not from the larger developments, but from smaller conversions where parking relief is granted for buildings increasing from one to two or two to three families.
District 3 Councillor Joe Perlatonda said there needs to be a closer look at the overall parking program for the city.
He said the current program, which limits resident sticker parking to 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. is unfair to residents.
“Unless we change the parking program to 24/7, these people are still going to be parking in our streets, and I’m sick of it,” said Perlatonda.