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Report: South side of Concord hit hardest during parking bans

  • A map shows where the majority of parking ban tickets and towings have occurred in Concord during this winter season. A star shows a spot where a vehicle was towed; a green dot shows a ticket citation with an address, a blue dot shows a ticket citation with no address. Courtesy of the city of Concord

  • A close-up view of portion of a map shows where the majority of parking ban tickets and violations have occurred in Concord this winter. Courtesy of the city of Concord

  • A close-up view of portion of a map shows where the majority of parking ban tickets and violations have occurred in Concord this winter. Courtesy of the city of Concord

  • A close-up view of portion of a map that shows where the majority of parking ban tickets and violations have occurred in Concord this winter. Courtesy of the city of Concord

  • A map shows where some parking ban tickets and violations occur in Penacook. Courtesy of the city of Concord



Monitor staff
Monday, January 22, 2018

Members of Concord’s Parking Committee got an idea of who, exactly, is getting hit during the city’s winter parking bans.

Well, maybe not exactly who – but when General Services director Chip Chesley put up a map covered with dots and stars (showing where a vehicle was ticketed and where a vehicle was towed, respectively), it was pretty clear to see which neighborhoods most often fall prey to parking enforcement.

The majority of the dots appeared to be clustered on the south side of downtown, according to an analysis by the Monitor. A majority of tickets appear on South State Street, which had at least 30 tickets; South Main Street, with about 18 tickets; Perley Street, with about 18 tickets; and Warren Street, with about 24 tickets. A blue area, where most of the points fell, showed the region General Services tackles first when plowing.

But there were a fair amount of points across the map covering covered the immediate downtown area. A bigger map showed a relatively unmarked North State Street and Fisherville Road, until it hit a cluster of streets in Penacook.

For those in attendance, it was clear the problem was anything but citywide.

“It’s a neighborhood issue,” Chesley said.

And the group seemed to agree on why those areas might be hurt more.

“If you walk some of these neighborhoods, it’s real tight in there,” Mayor Jim Bouley said. “It’s not a big mystery, if you say, ‘Why does X street have tows’; it’s because the landlord doesn’t provide enough parking. It’s not that hard.”

The city has had seven parking bans this winter season, according to Concord’s parking supervisor, David Florence. Four were winter maintenance parking bans, which affect only a certain area of downtown; the other three were citywide. During that time, 245 tickets, each costing $100, have been issued, and 97 cars have been towed. Of those vehicles towed, about 48 percent were registered to a municipality outside Concord, Florence said.

Last year, the city issued 300 tickets in relation to a winter parking ban, for a total revenue of at least $30,000, about 11 percent of the $274,205 generated by parking violations last fiscal year, according to city data. That figure does not include late fees.

But a concrete solution on how to fix the problem and reach more residents about an impending parking ban was elusive to the committee

Chesley touted the city’s methods of trying to reach residents via text and email alerts they can opt into, as well as sending out alerts on social media and to media outlets. He said the city’s alert system has about 1,800 subscribers, but the most effective single medium method appears to be Facebook; notices of parking bans get seen by about 3,100 people, he said.

Chesley also said the city has been sending out notices with water meter bills and sending postcards to residences within the affected area. He also pointed out that those water bills may directly go to landlords who own a property, who may not communicate effectively with their residents.

And Deputy City Manager of Development Matt Walsh said the problem affects a relatively small proportion of the city’s population. The city issues about eight citations and tows per 1,000 residents, according to city data. Concord’s 2010 population was 42,695, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

“It’s unfortunate,” Walsh said. “But a certain amount of this has to be about personal responsibility.”

“It should be as routine as when you move into town and have to pick up purple trash bags, or we won’t pick up your trash,” Walsh continued, comparing the city’s pay-as-you-throw garbage removal to the city’s parking ban alert system.

Committee chair and at-large Councilor Mark Coen suggested the city could reinstate an overnight parking ban during the winter season, calling it “the purest way” to get rid of the problem. But he quickly noted that solution would “exacerbate 20 other problems.”

But Bouley suggested reaching out to the affected individuals to find out why, exactly, they got towed before taking any other steps. He pointed to Merrimack Street, which had 12 tickets, as a place that would have a lot of vehicles, but maybe not enough space.

“We know there’s a 24-room boarding house there, right?” he said. “Those people come with cars. ... We should be taking incremental steps before we swing the pendulum to banning parking all the time.”

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)