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Pittsfield Traffic Commission Supports 3-Hour Parking Limit on North Street
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
04:55AM / Friday, May 27, 2022
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A three-hour limit may be implemented for parking on North Street.

The Traffic Commission on Monday accepted a petition from North Street business owners requesting that metered on-street parking is limited to three hours.

The owner of Cheveux Hair Clinic David Daunais received signatures from 26 business owners on the petition. Both the proprietors and the city recognize that the spaces are not getting the turnover that was expected when parking meters were implemented in 2017.

Last year's data showed that over 50 percent of parking on North Street lasts three hours and about 75 percent of on-street parking lasts four hours, Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities Ricardo Morales reported.

"There seems to be a limited problem, but yet a problem of people parking all day on North Street, and that's legal if they pay for it but it's not what was intended," Daunais said.

"I've got some articles here from 2016 when they instituted the kiosks, and they said they were hoping that employees of downtown businesses would park in the parking lots and that they would have turnover on North Street, that was the intention, that's why they doubled the price on our street compared to the parking lots and that worked for a while but it just seems like there are people who are willing to pay the $8 a day to have their car sit outside of their business for convenience or whatever but it does impact our customers, they have trouble finding parking spaces, the turnover is not as good because of those who park all day."

This was brought to the commission's meeting last month and was tabled so that information could be gathered on parking trends.

At the April meeting, Commissioner of Public Utilities Ricardo Morales said the parking system is working as intended though there is a higher duration of parking on North Street than the city had anticipated. There are several ways to regulate that including the addition of a time limit and increasing the parking rate.

The three-hour limit was chosen after the owner of the Beacon Theatre expressed that he would prefer it so that people can catch a matinee and lunch without having to move their car.

Daunais has been consulting the commissioner for over a year and they concluded that the goals of the city and the business owners coincide.

"The message here is becoming in line with our own goals, the city's goals, my goals, and those are to provide turnover more attune closer to 80 percent occupancy rate, So what that means is at any given time, no matter what size sample, you measure for a block, you have 20 percent of the spaces available," Morales said.

"So with the unlimited parking low parking rate on North Street, and I say low compared to other places, of $1 an hour that turnover has not happened."

He added that the city is seeing a greater parking duration of five to eight hours.

The petition does not propose a change to the timing or rate and does not affect side streets.

Commission member Brian Andrews asked if there are specific blocks that get a longer turnover and Morales said that is difficult information to obtain because mobile transactions are categorized into only three zones and the city can only make assumptions on where people park from kiosk transactions.

Anecdotally, Morales reported that the longest durations are on either side of the North Street corridor where there are more businesses.  He said the areas could be isolated in terms of study but suggested treating North Street as a whole to keep things clear and uniform.

"I'm speaking for my department in the city, we recognize that this is a petition that was put together by the business owners and we are in favor of that," Morales said.

"Understanding that it follows our goals for turnover."

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