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American-Born Black Focus Group Feedback

2/3/22 Summary of Comments

  • Parking is either available at an expensive rate or hard to find at a cheap rate.
  • Daily life is harder and more stressful when parking is so difficult to find, especially for people with children or caring for an elderly relative. People are planning trips around where and when they can park. This means that some people feel they have to return home earlier than they want to and cannot leave the house after they get home. 
  • Having only one visitor pass per household is not enough.
  • Parking in big apartment buildings is not being used by the residents because it costs too much, so those residents are parking on the street in resident permit parking areas instead. It is not fair when people with driveways don’t use them and park on the street in resident permit spaces. People without garage or driveway parking would like to be able to park in nearby garages and driveways.
  • People in affordable housing units should not have to pay for parking with their unit.
  • Residents should not have to pay for meters.
  • Cars that are used exclusively for carsharing (such as Turo) should not get resident parking stickers.
  • Need to be clear on website and other communications what changes the City plans to make with parking, why we have done what we have, and what the City does to encourage people not to drive and compete for parking.
  • Need to give everybody, including the Black community, a voice in finding middle ground on parking and transportation issues. Even if we don't all agree, we have to have the conversation.
  • The amount of space on our streets that different people get should be fair (drivers, bikers, pedestrians).
  • Snow clearance should happen on roads, parking spaces, and sidewalks, as well as bike lanes.
  • Parking in places where the bike lane is located on the right side of the parking in the street is stressful and difficult and weird (like Cambridge Street).
  • Cambridge is a bicycle-oriented city, and that would be fine, good for the environment, but if bikers are getting more space, they should follow the rules. They should wear helmets and get tickets when they break traffic laws.
  • Western Ave with the bike lane next to the sidewalk is a good design. Makes it easier to drive because bikes are separate from cars.
  • It feels dangerous to be a bike rider when Uber and Lyft pull over on the side of the road.
  • Living in Kendall and taking the train to work is easy and not stressful. It also helps when the employer pays for the T Pass.
  • All this development in Cambridge has made it overcrowded. The feeling in the City has changed, there is less community here now. 

Questions Asked

  1. What is the outcome of this meeting? What is the City doing to look at all the parking and transportation issues all at once? 
    Answer: Please visit this webpage for a description and timeline of the parking study. 
  2. Are you going to take meters off the main streets and put them on the side streets where we have resident permit parking? Why are you doing this?
    Answer: When we remove meters from main streets, we try to add a limited number of metered spaces on the side streets. We do this to help address the parking needs of the businesses on the main street. We typically install only a few meters on each side street in the spaces closest to the businesses, to reduce the impacts to local residents.

Focus group quotes include:

  • I live in Kendall Square area. Parking of course is crazy around here. We do have parking where I live but it's just really expensive. We either park at meter parking or permit parking. So right now because of the weather we just park right there next to the Galleria because it's cheap. 
  • After digging and looking on the website and I'm like holy crap, the City has this whole carshare program. And Kendall Square where it's totally congested have businesses negotiating with their employees to say, instead of you driving in, because we have limited parking, what about buses or we'll give you Bluebikes passes, which are great. But there isn't any visibility from us as Cantabrigians to understand, ok what is the City looking at as a whole? What are the issues being brought up, how is the City doing this, and what's the timeline? What are some of the outcomes? What are the targets? Usually CDD does development projects and I can go on the website and dig and go and see. Oh what are you building? That whole little sub-city of Cambridge is being built over there in Lechmere. You can go on the website and see that. But when it comes to parking and transportation in Cambridge, there really isn't anything. You know, you see resolutions, the whole Mass Ave thing, they had whole thing on the last City meeting. So what I'm looking for is more of a cohesive conversation. Whether it's community meetings, or something where we can see that the City is really listening, paying attention, and is looking to put a plan in place. Not a plan 3 years out, but a plan. Looking at the Charter, you're getting a new City Manager. How do we address parking permits? And I think it's a great, if you're going to take away parking spaces or residential parking, we should be subsidized or not having to pay at a meter or something. It's commercial building up and around for 5, 6 years, it's money-making for Cambridge tax bases but now the city's crowded and what do we do? I will speak up, but what's the end result? How do we do this in a cohesive manner so that we can see progress and we have a voice, a part of it? We're not going to all agree, definitely, but how do we reach middle ground so that we can all live cohesively in the City?
  • I heard that one of the suggestions that has come up, is take meters off the main streets and put them on the side streets where we have our permit parking. That is absolutely ludicrous. What's going to happen is you're going to be parking so far from your house just to get into permit parking. That's not going to work. People want to try to park as close to their house as possible for a number of reasons. If that is something on the chopping board, I totally disagree with that. I think the side streets have the permit parking because you're close to your house. I don’t want to park on Cambridge Street and walk all the way down to my house.
  • I wasn't aware of them taking the meters off the main street and putting them people on side street, but people on the side street already don't have much parking.
  • Other people [residents] that work in Cambridge. So when they come and there's no parking spots. I don't know how to regulate that because they do have a Cambridge permit parking pass.
  • When I get an order through Door Dash, Uber Eats, Grub Hub, there's nowhere to park. One time I got out of the car to pick up an order, it was literally five steps, and the meter maid said if you park here, I'm giving you a ticket. I said, "I just have a pick up an order, it's already ready." And She goes, "I don't care." And you know, they're kinda rude. I go "ok, whatever" but I'm like, there is a way to say it, you know? So I had to go all the way back around. I have 5 stars, I don’t want to mess that up. 
  • This conversation is good because we're able to get voices from the Black community, but we don't always get our voices out there.
  • One thing that's going on in my community, there is a wonderful gentleman who has his own business. It's Turo carsharing. And I'm not telling on him because I want him to have his own small business, 'cause I got mine and I want to see everybody grow. He has like 15 automobiles. The issue is he must have a resident sticker for each car cause he parks them along Brookline and Putnam Ave. he's taking up spaces for residents and visitors.  I feel like if the City wants him to have his own business, they should possibly help him find a parking garage that he could put his own cars in so he's not taking up space from the residents. Because I'm illegally parking all the time, I am. I park where it says, "Don't park here" and I end up getting ticket because I'm not going around the corner. [Turo] is really cool, I feel bad. He can't do anything about it and he wants to protect his business, but that's a lot of spots. Imagine street cleaning, imagine snow removal. He's got to find spots for them, which is cool, but then that's spots that other people could have. He needs a garage. He needs something where he can wash his cars, fix 'em. Because he's great at what he does. I'm not even mad at him. I'm disappointed in the City for giving him all those permits to do what he's doing.
  • I live next door to an apartment building and across from another apartment building which both have underground parking. What happens is, the people don't want to pay for that parking. I don't blame them, because it's expensive. So what they do is, they go get a resident sticker, so what they do is they park outside. So now, the people who live there that don't have that ability can't even park outside. I can't find parking and it's just not fair to me or whoever's in the community.
  • If the space didn't cost, maybe the people wouldn't park on the street and they would utilize their space. That's another added expense. Everything's going up--food, this and that--so they want to cut corners where they can, so they'd rather not pay for the parking. You shouldn't have to pay for a parking spot under your unit. That just doesn't make sense to me. When my son rented his unit in East Cambridge, he had to pay to park his bike in the garage they had a little spot ($25/month).
  • Parking should come with your apartment. Why don't you offer the parking to me? I would love to buy a parking spot, you know? Where I could not get snowed in.
  • Why is the City not giving that owner a grant every single month to make sure you are allowing the residents to park inside the building? I don’t even know why they're charging them. Because they've already built the garage.
  • And it's empty! Can I just tell you guys that? Most of it is empty! Parking goes to the lab next door and then downstairs, there's 2 or 3 cars. And then guess what, if you want to park closer to the elevators VIP, they charge you like $500, which is stupid, just two steps closer to the elevator.
  • They give subsidies so people who are paying market rate are paying more for parking and some people who have subsidies are paying less. But paying less doesn’t mean they have that extra money. They are still paying 30% of their income. So that's just another added expense.
  • What the City needs to do is say if you are going to build something here, then you must allow the residents here who have middle income or regular income (well we're paying almost full rent basically) parking to go with it. I have a daughter and my husband and I want to park our bikes. We don't want to pay extra $2-300 to park our bikes downstairs and then park our cars $300!
  • Don't give them a grant, these people don't need the money. They're just trying to get more money. How is that really helping us? They charge for everything, they even charge for a pet. Extra 50-100-200 dollars a month. They don't need a grant. These people need empathy, they need to know that people want to live in Cambridge and want their kids to be educated in Cambridge. Not to be ripped off more. That’s why people are leaving. 
  • People should feel, they have to go to the supermarket or have to time leaving their house because they're worried about a parking spot? Nobody should have to live like that.
  • I don't understand. I went to City Hall and I could even park (chuckles). I couldn't  even park to go in the post office. That doesn't even make sense. I can't park to do my City business. I go all the way to East Cambridge near the old courthouse to do my packages b/c it's easier for me to park. And it makes no sense to me to use all that gas to get over there, when I can go to the one in Central Square, but I can't.
  • I park in the garage at work. Whereas in Somerville if you go to Assembly Square, they have the parking where it's after 2.5 or 3 hrs, then you pay after that. Something like that would be helpful versus pt costs too much paying large fees up front or the meters. That would make a big difference.
  • At my school, there is a lot of parking spaces, but because the residents and teachers are coming in, and people are frightened for spaces, especially on snow days like this, there's no parking and I think that's sad. Teachers shouldn't have to worry about being towed.
  • I drive and it's awesome. What would be better is if we got rid of them bike lanes because it's so difficult to navigate around them. If there was more accountability put on bikers. They get all this space in street. They should get pulled over if they don't stop at a red light. The city is so geared just to biking. That's great and eco-friendly, but not all of us can just, like, ride bikes. Some of us have children, have other things you need to do, you need to go farther distances and it's just not a vehicle friendly city. It's hard to park.
  • I wish the City would do a better job making sure they would shovel the sidewalk where you were supposed to enter the street [corners w curb cuts]
  • The amount of parking we have is so limited that the City should be removing snow from the City. They did that in South Boston, the did that in East Boston, they did that in Somerville. Parking is already tight, now with the snow is even tighter.
  • They've figured out that if they don't get it all done on that day, they can now come back another day and do snow removal and get overtime. On Willow St is where the King Open School. Nobody was parked on that side of the street, on the left side near the King Open School. They could not park there because they did not go all the way to the curb. So people were stopping in the middle of the street. You got young kids, so I get it. Parents don't want to just send their kid out. You want to make sure your kid's getting in the school. For the schools we definitely need to get as close to the sidewalk as possible [with snow removal)] I don't care if we take off some of that sidewalk. o that afternoon, what I did was I left my car in front of my house and I just walked down, and basically walked back to the house, which was better for me than to be frustrated. f the bike lanes were cleared out, [parking] should have definitely been cleared out. I don’t care if the guys gotta get out there, girls gotta get out there and use a damn shovel (excuse my language) but make sure it's clear there.
  • I was very saddened yesterday when I was driving to work and I saw four people with strollers with babies in them in the streets walking because the sidewalks weren't clear, but let me tell you what was clear--them bike lanes.
  • I had to walk off in the streets in a few places because the sidewalks weren't shoveled right and I don't want to hurt myself on the way to work because I can't afford to. I wish the City would do a better job making sure they would shovel the sidewalk where you were supposed to enter the street [corners w curb cuts] because I had to go outside onto the street to get to parts that were shoveled to get back onto the sidewalk, which is dangerous.
  • I live on a small street and there are plenty of houses that have their own driveway but people choose to use street parking, and I know that them being a resident they have that ability to get a parking permit. But it's like so frustrating seeing somebody's driveway empty that I can't park in but having to circle the block 5 times to find parking.
  • Having one visitor pass--that limits you to a car full of people or say if there's two different families coming over to visit. Frustrating.
  • With a lot of people working from home with covid, when they would do street cleaning, and I know it's only once a month, if I didn't get home the night before to find a spot because you know everybody snatches up a spot that are able to be snatched up because you're going to have to move in the morning. If I wasn't able to get a secure spot the night before, I would have to circle the block for an hour or an hour and a half to find a spot
  • I feel bad for vendors, businesses along Mass Ave and Cambridge Street because you can't do a quick pull off to the side, run into store, make a purchase. You actually have to really think about where you're driving to, and if you have small children or if you're caring for elderly parent, it really makes it more difficult. I really like the design on Western Ave. I like how bike lanes are incorporated into the sidewalk.
  • I agree I think that is a good idea to have bike lanes in the sidewalk. I've always thought that made the most sense just for drivers and bikers safety. I don't like the bike lanes in the street. It was a big adjustment, it was kinda like strange.
  • I do dread driving with the bikers. And also now I notice now pedestrians coming out in front of cars even when they have a red light. So you have to look out for the walkers, for the bikers, the skateboarders, kids.
  • I'm a driver. Pretty annoying, I mean if you every go down Hampshire street in morning, it's like a bike race. Honestly, there's gotta be at least a hundred bikers in the morning. So that's kinda crazy, but I've also noticed up there on Mass Ave just before MIT, they cut that already congested area down to one lane for a bus lane on one side and a bike lane, so it's crazy. And although I've always had a Cambridge parking pass, not always a space available. So it's ridiculous.
  • I wish bikers would stay off the sidewalk. I've been looking at people on the sidewalk thinking, "What are you crazy? You have a lane right here. Stop doing that." And, I'm with my child or the dog or something like that. And they're not using their bells, zooming by me, which makes me really angry. And I'm all for bikers, I bike, I use Bluebikes sometimes. But I try be careful and be safe and follow the rules.
  • I feel like people who drive cars and bikers don't always go to the same rules. And some people don't always understand the rules. Bikers when they're signaling and some of the bikers do not signal and they forget that we cannot see them. It's kind of crazy. I understand why we're doing it--we're trying to make our environment better, but there's definitely got to be a better way for us to share the roads. As a person who's a pedestrian and a person who's in a car and takes public transportation, I could see the craziness of it all from all the different perspectives. Hopefully we could try to make it better and give everybody space.
  • When I'm biking, I definitely don't feel safe at all, especially with Ubers and Lyft pulling over on Memorial Drive. We need more drop-off/pick-up areas for Ubers and Lyfts. Western Ave is helpful, a bike lane within sidewalk to help everyone else feel more comfortable. We could follow Amsterdam, which has the most amount of bikers in the city, they do it really well. For somebody who's also driving--it's really hard to find parking within Cambridge, when you go out to a restaurant to pick up food or you're going to eat, as a Cambridge resident, to have to also worry about a meter on top of that is a lot. So I feel like there's so many parking spots that are being taken away for so many things. Cambridge residents should be able to park in meters without having to pay. I just feel like taking away a lot of spaces and not accommodating residents should be able to go around the City is very difficult. I feel like there was no thought or intention behind what are we supposed to do.
  • I don't think bikers are bad, but I think, like, they're taking over the City. Not everybody wants a bike. And not everybody wants a car. But now I can't even park. And I can't even get out on the right of my car on Cambridge Street, nor the left, because I might kill somebody on either side, because who knows what side they're biking on. Make them just as accountable as us drivers. The bike riders need to be required to wear helmets because if we hit them, they'll be safe. [Someone said, "Amen."] And they need to have small license plates because they need to be able to get ticketed. ["Amen"].
  • Bikers don’t even stop at the light.
  • I think the bikes definitely need to be held accountable. I pay high insurance for my car and it seems like they get everything that they want out of the city. If the City was spirit animal, the spirit animal would be bicycle.
  • Can they undo what they do with the bicycle stuff? All that taking away parking? Can they possibly reverse that? Could so many hours of the day be for biking and then it turn into parking for the rest of the day? That would be fair. 
  • I don’t mind taking the train. I just get off at Davis and walk to the school that I'm working at. And I'm living right in Kendall Square so the T is literally I walk down street, a few minutes away. Of course you always want it to be reliable and lately there's been something wrong with one of the trains every now and then. So I really can't complain about that. I get the T pass from my job so I don't pay that much for it, and it's better than me having to take a drive with all the cars that are trying to go into work.
  • It's what's expected of Cambridge. It's overcrowded. All these people with all this money. Really it's changed so much. It's like, look at Central Square. I only go to Central Square for the bank and the restaurant. Nothing is ever the same but it doesn't have that community that it used to have. I talk about it like I'm ancient, but the reality is it's not what it was. But it can't get to where it was, 'cause it's all about money. It's not really about community.
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