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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
|Because Neighborhoods Count|
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. . . Almost without exception, the impact on local, on-street parking is the number one concern neighbors raise about any project, whether it be a restaurant expansion or a multi-unit housing development . . .
Cambridge needs parking data as a planning tool
Almost without exception, the impact on local, on-street parking is the number one concern neighbors raise about any project, whether it be a restaurant expansion or a multi-unit housing development. To allay these concerns, residential developers often claim that their project's particular blend of units is unlikely to create much more demand for parking than the one parking space per unit required by zoning. While there is rarely, if ever, any data provided to support them, these claims have a certain logic to the uninitiated: one bedroom units will only have one inhabitant, units close to a bus station will attract residents who don't drive, low-income families are less likely to have multiple cars.
In response to these claims, local residents, who usually understand neighborhood parking and traffic constraints better than anyone else, provide anecdotes about how parking has become tighter and tighter over the years. There may be a little give and take, then the project is built and, by and large, it seems to turn out that the neighbors concerns were well-founded. Overflow parking from the project soaks up limited on-street parking spaces and life becomes a bit more difficult for neighborhood residents.
It is unfortunate that we continue to rely on unsupported parking analyses when approving residential projects. Given that we all must provide proof of residence when getting our parking stickers, it seems reasonable that the City's Department of Traffic, Parking and Transportation should develop data on what type of units, including income and location, are likely to have how many cars. This data could then be used to further honest and productive discussions of a development's probable impact on local parking.
The Cambridge Department of Traffic, Transportation and Parking should develop and make public a database of how many vehicles are registered to what types of housing units throughout the City.