I ask you to VOTE NO to a doubling of the fine for parking over two hours in Brookline.

I ask you to VOTE NO to putting a resident parking plan in place that excludes, and makes second class citizens out of, our town’s merchant residents.

Currently there is a two-hour parking restriction applied to all cars parked on the public streets of the Town of Brookline.

The Town of Brookline intends to initiate a “resident parking plan” this year giving the 37,000 (approx) registered cars of Brookline the right to buy a 25 dollar sticker allowing them to park on the street all day.

The Town of Brookline wants to increase the fine for parking for over 2 hours from 15 to 30 dollars concurrent with this plan going into effect.

The merchant residents of Brookline respectfully request to be included in this “resident” plan.

On the one hand Brookline town officials have said they predict little impact, if any, from the potential for 37,000 cars to receive this new privilege. They characterize concerns about space availability as “fear based” and unrealistic.

However, when merchant residents of the town asked to be included in the permit program (but offered to pay 1200% more for the permits than homeowners to contribute money to the town) we have been told that there is not conceivably enough space to even consider issuing 300 merchant resident stickers as an initial trial; that this number would “overwhelm” the streets.

So how can it be that the homeowner’s 37,000 cars are going to have almost zero impact on the streets, yet issuing merchants 300 resident stickers is going to overload the streets? Even if only 10 percent of residents take advantage of the program that is still 3,700 cars! If it won’t work for only 300 merchant residents then how can the plan possibly accommodate even a small fraction of the homeowner residents who will be eligible?

The point we want to make to the town is that we ALREADY park on the neighborhood streets adjacent to commercial areas, our cars DO NOT overwhelm the streets, and for the most part have been allowed to co-exist peacefully enough with homeowner residents over the years by way of police discretion and us budgeting seriously for tickets into our business plans; a hidden tax if you will, for doing business in Brookline. Not perfect, but it has been the status quo and at least has been applied equally to ALL residents of the town.

Now that the town is going to change that status quo. Brookline proposes to officially “de-criminalize” homeowner resident parking, remove police discretion, and ticket at this doubled rate aggressively enough to “drive out” the Red Sox parkers, the day commuters, and the Longwood medical area spillover cars.

The merchant residents of Brookline know that our cars are going to be “caught in the crossfire” as an unintended consequence of this drive to push out non-taxpayers from our streets. We respectfully request to be recognized as the residents of Brookline which we are and afforded the same rights and protections as other residents of our Town as we seek the common goal of controlling the use of our streets by non- taxpayers, such as commuters.

Our cars are already on the streets. We do not need the Town to “find” or identify in any other way, designated merchant resident parking in some complicated program different in every commercial area. Instead we need to legitimize what already is happening and is working, and the positive consequence is it will raise money for the town along the way through the significant permit fees, bringing the town revenue from our cars that does not require valuable police resources to write out lots of individual tickets for. We will pay up front each year for our permits all at once.

With the merchant residents and the homeowner residents all happy, the police can be free to aggressively enforce the 2 hour limit to drive the Red Sox parkers and commuters off our streets.

Our question for town officials is simple:

  • If there is enough space on the streets for a program to serve 37,000 homeowner resident car owners, then an additional few hundred merchant resident car owners is a drop in the bucket, and we, as merchant residents, request equal treatment as the taxpayers we are.
  • If there is not enough space for the even a fraction of the 37,000 homeowners the program is proposed to serve, then the problem is MUCH bigger than just the merchant issue, and the town has to go back to the drawing board on the whole plan. So which is it? Is the plan sound in which case the Town can just include us, or is the plan flawed overall?

If you go ahead with the plan, please remember that businesses pay auto excise tax, property excise tax on our store fixtures, and property tax, all at a higher rate than residences. We feel that the streets of Brookline should not be regulated with a two-tier system that institutionalizes the concept of merchant residents as second-class citizens of this town.

The latest statements from the Transportation Board offer the commitment to help merchants of Coolidge corner better utilize 10-hour meters along the Beacon Street median.

While that might be a good spot solution for help in the Coolidge Corner area it does not address the issue town-wide in a simple, and easily administered manner. It will just come up over and over again for every specific situation, such as mine at Clear Flour Bakery. It also seems odd, given that the Transportation Board has in general strongly recommended against any solution that does not address parking issues town wide. Mr. Friend has specifically said he does not want to get into the business of figuring out how to separately regulate every corner and every street on a case by case basis.

What is needed is to recognize merchant taxpaying residents as having rights to the public streets of Brookline along with homeowner taxpaying residents.

Until such time as the Transportation Board proposes permit program regulation that recognizes the rights and needs of resident merchants, along with those of resident homeowners, to hold permits, we ask that the Board of Selectman DO NOT approve the plan or the attendant fine increase currently before them.

– Abram Faber, Clear Flour Bakery