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Starts & Stops

Michelle Wu wants Boston to consider charging for residential parking permits

City Councilor Michelle Wu wants Boston to consider charging for residential parking permits, to reduce congestion and to fund transportation initiatives.
Globe staff/File 2005
City Councilor Michelle Wu wants Boston to consider charging for residential parking permits, to reduce congestion and to fund transportation initiatives.

Fresh off a vote to increase parking-related fines, the Boston City Council will next delve into the thornier issue of residential parking permits.

The council has scheduled a hearing for June 28 to consider possible changes to the permits, which are required to park on many neighborhood streets. The hearing, requested by Councilor Michelle Wu, would include discussion of “the potential to charge a fee for parking stickers,” which are currently free, according to the agenda for the meeting.

Wu said there are too many cars for too few parking spaces in some neighborhoods. Moreover, charging for residential permits would help fund other initiatives to reduce Boston’s notorious traffic congestion. The hearing, she added, will help determine how many parking spaces are available on city streets.

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“My proposal, broadly, is that we need to talk about how we’re giving away a very precious public resource for free,” she said.

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Wu suggested permits could be priced differently by neighborhood. Alternatively, she said, the city could introduce a wait list for parking permits that become available as people move away or stop driving.

The city has more than 98,000 active parking stickers, and some 350 addresses have five or more cars registered for residential parking.

Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline all charge fees for parking permits, ranging from $25 to $40. Wu believes charging for the Boston permits could lead to fewer cars on city streets, while raising money for additional transportation projects.

The latter was the reason behind the council’s vote Wednesday to raise fines for parking violations. The revenue will fund initiatives such as street paving, bicycle infrastructure, traffic light systems, and a transit director to oversee new bus lanes and work with the state-run MBTA. The funds would also help pay for new staff to enforce parking rules.

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The new parking fines include $40 for overstaying a parking meter, up from $25; $55 for double-parking in busy parts of the city, which had been $45; and $60 for violating residential parking rules, compared with $40 previously.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh originally proposed the parking fine increase, pushed for its passage, and is expected to sign off soon. His staff Friday said they are not currently exploring limits or fees for the residential permit system but noted the city has considered other initiatives like boosting parking meter rates based on demand.

Adam Vaccaro can be reached at adam.vaccaro@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamtvaccaro.