Newton’s Winter Parking Ban Stays, for Now

Newton’s winter parking ban goes into effect on Dec. 1, and although the City Council rejected a plan to drop the ban for a trial run, officials are looking into possibly dropping the ban in years to come.

There was discussion of a trial run without the parking ban for the next two winters followed by a ballot question about dropping the ban permanently in 2025. But on Oct. 16, the City Council voted against it, 17-7.

“I’ve heard about what a ‘broad tool’ this is, and that it’s too broad,” Councilor Andrea Kelley, who proposed the trial run without the ban, said. “There’s no broader tool than bluntly refusing to let people park on the street for four solid months for maybe two nights of a storm.”

Councilor Julia Malakie noted that the city was about to potentially implement a zoning overhaul of its village centers with no new parking space requirements, making parking in Newton already unpredictable for the next couple of years.

“I don’t want to see Newton have space-saver wars and people cruising the street looking to find a place at night or not having a place for their visitors to park,” Malakie said. “So I won’t be supporting the trial.”

Councilor Christopher J. Markiewicz, who has served on the Public Safety Committee and the Traffic Council, cautioned that parking regulation is extremely complex in Newton and said dropping the ban would require a lot more planning.

“There are over 100 different parking rules,” Markiewicz said. “Our police officers aren’t really there to enforce parking rules. WE have seven patrol cars out in the city at night in Newton—a city of 90,000 people, 18 square miles—and if you drive across Newton you know it can take 45 minutes.

After the vote, Councilor Joshua Krintzman said he had a proposal—to be discussed at a later meeting—to suspend the parking ban for a trial run starting this December, once the Council has had time to work through issues raised by other councilors during the Oct. 16 discussion.

Newton’s winter parking ordinance bans parking on any street used by the public for more than an hour between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. from Dec. 1 to March 1.