PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The city of Pittsfield is working to refine snow emergency parking in two steps. The first step is the adoption of a new snow emergency regulations for alternate side parking, and the second is to repeal overnight parking regulations so that residents can park on the street all year long.
On Tuesday, the City Council ordained an alternate side parking petition, which is a traffic law that dictates which side of the street vehicles can be parked on a given day based on even and odd street numbers.
Alternate side parking aims to allow for more efficient seasonal cleanup and for high-density areas that may not have sufficient parking, such as the Morningside and West Side neighborhoods, to be able to park on the street through the winter.
Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon, Councilor at Large Peter White, and Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo introduced alternate side parking in a petition last February. It was then sent to the Traffic Commission, which referred it to Public Utilities Commissioner Ricardo Morales for further review in March.
"The ways that our city has been built out haven't really accommodated the growth in terms of transitional housing and certain densely populated areas," Moon said. "So I think it is incumbent on us to find a solution for people before we start penalizing them for not following the rules that we put in place so this is a way to mitigate that enforcement."
After further discussion in an Ordinances and Rules meeting on Sept. 19, Morales was given more direction with snow emergency regulations so that they can create a system in which residents can park on the street overnight all year, and when a snow emergency is declared, can use alternative side parking in 24-hour shifts.
Caccamo said Morales had numerous discussions with the Ordinance and Rules Committee and was more than willing to engage in all questions and concerns.
"We think this is in a good place, we are addressing a problem," Caccamo said.
Morales explained how his department will be handling enforcement of alternate side parking, saying enforcement is very important to make it work.
Pittsfield residents would be asked to not park on the street, but if they have to, they are required to follow the new model.
Enforcement would be in a case-by-case scenario depending on conditions of the anticipated storm. Starting from either 7 a.m. or 7 p.m., depending on the occurrence of the snow event, enforcement would start.
Morales' department met with the Traffic Division of the Police Department to discuss enforcement and they agreed that for the first few months, an officer would accompany Morales' staff and dispatch from PPD and from the Highway Division would be used before a snow event starts when the parking ban is in effect.
The idea is to start phasing out the use of police, but in the beginning, Morales feels they need to have an enforcement level that reflects the seriousness of this ordinance to assist the Department of Public Utilities staff when alternate side parking in effect.
Morales said communicating these changes to the public is equally important. If the petition was ordained, he said his department would start a campaign to communicate that these changes will be issued on a storm basis and that enforcement will happen before the snow event occurs.
This model is providing means for people to park on the street during winter months, where they didn't have that before, Morales said.
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell said this will come with massive confusion and enforcement problems. He feels that people do not watch council meetings or read the news, so many will slip through the cracks and not be informed about these changes.
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi was also concerned about enforcement and communication. He thinks it will be confusing because snow parking has been the same way for years.
"There's a lot that has to be done to get the word out," he said. "I think it's going to be a nightmare myself, we can't even enforce what we've got now."
The second part of the snow emergency parking changes involved changing the language in the city code that prohibits street parking between December and March.
Caccamo said the Ordinances and Rules Committee felt they needed to repeal this code, allowing residents to park overnight on the street all year long, and talked about referring it to the Traffic Commission.
This petition was accepted by City Council and referred to the Traffic Commission for further discussion.
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