Watertown Man’s Petition Seeks to End Town’s Winter Parking Ban

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Charlie Breitrose

A street empty of cars due to Watertown's winter parking ban.

Charlie Breitrose

A street empty of cars due to Watertown’s winter parking ban.

A Watertown man has started an online petition seeking to end, or at least alter, the town’s winter parking ban. 

Baylor Bennett put the petition on Change.org asking the Town Council and officials in charge of parking to end the ban that lasts from after Thanksgiving to the end of March.

“No matter what the weather conditions there is no overnight street parking in the City of Watertown from late November to the first of April. This rule forces property owners and landlords to accommodate all vehicles on their property for four months out of the year,” Bennett wrote in the petition.

He argues that bigger communities of Cambridge and Somerville do not have a permanent ban, and only ban people from parking on one side of the street during snow storms.

In the past, Watertown Public Works officials argued the ban is needed to make sure snow and ice can be removed from Watertown’s streets to allow fire trucks and other emergency vehicles to get through. Residents who do not have off-street parking must park in municipal lots, or find some other place to park during the winter months.

Bennett writes that not only would the end of the ban make it easier on those who have cars, but it would mean less space would need to be devoted to parking on Watertown properties.

The petition can be found here.

19 thoughts on “Watertown Man’s Petition Seeks to End Town’s Winter Parking Ban

    • My street is like this it’s still not great, it’s not even wide enough for one side parking, in some of the denser neighborhoods maybe some new one way streets with one side parking would be nice.

      • Hello

        This ban has been in effect for decades, when communication was limited. I’d like to see one side of street parking allowed when snow is not in the forecast. For example when snow is being forcasted to begin at a certain time all cars need to park elsewhere as it is now. you can be notified via i phone android or robo call from town emergency notification system to your home. Or simply check out watertown cable channel or simply watch the weather forcast. This is a no brainer. It sucks when a family member or friend cannot spend a night due to parking ban.


  1. Perhaps it could be modified to respond to changing conditions but like many other things, you don’t appreciate it until it’s gone. I drive through many nearby cities and towns in the winter and Watertown does the best snow removal hands down. The winter parking ban makes that happen. It’s sometimes an inconvenience for my family too but we also enjoy the ban because it often means much less weaving in and out on our and other smaller streets in town.

  2. If we want to be like Cambridge and Somerville, then we should also to go to a resident parking permit system, as they have. There are not enough parking spaces in the east end. We are also clogged with business people using the minimum parking, that we do have. Developers, and folks on the wide streets don’t have to worry about the parking crisis we already have on the small streets.

    When you eliminate the parking ban, all the “guests” at the apartments that we have overbuilt, will also be taking resident parking spaces. The current parking ban forces attention to the limited parking available, and helps keep a lid on development, and all the illegal apartments in town.

    The east end streets could not tolerate parking on one side, during a storm. The streets are too narrow. It would be extremely difficult and dangerous to get out of the driveways, with inadequate snow removal for the entire street. People still leave cars on the street during a storm, creating a mess. Can’t wait until people leave cars on both sides of the street, during a storm.

    The house across the street has four cars. We have nine parking spaces available on the street. If we allow on-street parking on one side during the winter, it will become like Boston, with fighting over the space someone shoveled.

    If we remove the overnight parking ban, we will need stricter enforcement of the two-hour parking limit during the day, as folks will want to leave their cars, to claim their parking space.

    Are we ready for all the unintended consequences this change will bring?

  3. Other town do fine with “snow emergency” bans, even significantly denser cities, like Somerville seem to make do with this, personally I’d prefer if there was more focus on daily enforcement of meters, and the “2 hour” rule than hurting residents with the overnight “winter ban” this winter we’ve needed plows two or three times, no real need for a winter long parking ban.

  4. I am opposed. Over the past 30 years I’ve lived in W’town, Belmont, and Arlington. Arl and Bel, which (mostly) prohibit overnight parking year-round, definitely have a nicer feel with fewer cars clogging the streets. Any policy that discourages people from owning more cares and making streets feel like Somerville is a plus.

  5. Because of the winter off street parking, landlords have to find a space on the property. Which is usually in the front yard directly in front of the house. Which has worked for over 15 years. But this year Watertown zoning has reactivated the ordinance that does not allow cars to park on the property’s front yard. Watertown is now given out $100 citations for violating an ordinance that has not been enforced in years. I am not sure which way to go with this. I will appeal the fine. But I really want the ordinance to go dorment or be taken off the zoning ordenance. Any suggestions?

  6. i would rather it stay the same on the winter ban street where i live is one side parking only people who come to visit have no place to park due to the businesses parking all day long i thought there was a 2 hour limit on parking in watertown.

  7. I enjoy the parking ban for snow removal reasons as well as eliminating long term parkers. However, I would like to see some driveway related zoning requirements eased as a concession.

  8. I am a landlord/resident and don’t have any issue with the parking ban. It can certainly be a hassle and I did pay a sizable amount of money to add driveway space on my property however the trade off of less crowded streets and A+ snow removal is certainly a trade off I’m willing to deal with for the inconvenience of the ban.

  9. I am against removing the ban. I do not want Watertown to look like Somerville or Cambridge (Really? You like that?), nor do I want resident only parking. I have lived in Somerville. Parking there is a nightmare even without a ban. There are two many cars in too small a space. That is the real problem.
    Property owners should provide the means to get cars off the road; if they can’t then we should have less cars. This town is changing I know. Our government and planning dept are doing their best to turn it into Somerville/Cambridge. I will fight that for as long as I can.

  10. I would not want to see the parking ban removed. I drive through Cambridge every day. After storms the roads are a nightmare often times difficult for two way driving. Once the parking ban comes off in the Spring MOST of my neughbors park in the street every single night resulting in lack of curbside space to put out trash and recycling and no parking for guests. I doubt they would comply with a snow parking ban and likely would not be towed resulting in poor snow removal on the street. I have no desire for this city to mirror Cambridge and Somerville!

  11. The ban makes navigating the streets much easier in the winter. As an example, look at Spruce Street when there is NO ban. It becomes severely congested and could impede passage of emergency vehicles. If parking is allowed on one side of the street in the winter, that means only half of the street will be cleared of snow. It can be hard enough to get rid of the snow from the driveway without having to also deal with half the street.

    • Joe, you are correct, but “could impede” should be “does impede”. I speak from experience. Your Fire Department ladder trucks’ first priority is rescue. You can’t rescue anyone from 3 streets away, blaring on an air horn while waiting for car owners to come out and move their cars. Backing out of the street is not always an option and is very time consuming also. None of it is good.

  12. I moved back to Watertown in 1977, purchased a house with a detached two car garage; had four children, and fortunately each owned a motor vehicle but not all at the same time; generally, we had four motor vehicles. I never thought that the winter parking ban was a hardship; rather, viewed it as a exercise in catastrophy prevention. I vigorously support the parking ban as is. When driving through other municipalities adjacent to Watertown, I cringe at the thought of emergency vehicles, especially fire trucks accompanied by ambulances, being jammed up on streets that were laid out in the early 1900’s. I would rather see thousands of individuals INCONVIENCED rather than one life LOST because of the parking ban. If an individual is really miffed because of the parking ban, first thing is, they were aware of the ban before they moved to Watertown, and if they were not, shame on them. Secondly, they can MOVE to another city/town where they will not be so INCONVENIENCED. What I will not accept is families life endangered because someone feels INCONVENIENCED.

  13. You must be a Cambridge resident to get a permit to park on the streets. Many of folks living in Watertown DO NOT register their vehicles in Watertown. The town loses the excise tax monies and the State does not get the insurance. The continued building of multiple units has caused many of the parking situations. The town has changed the requirement of two parking spaces per unit to one and a half spaces. How many of you know someone driving half of a car? On my narrow street I have seen times where fire apparatus cannot come down the street due to cars parked on the street. Put the solving of this problem back to Town (City) Hall.

    • “How many of you know someone driving half of a car?”. Have you ever heard the word “average”? If one unit has 2 cars and another unit has only 1 car, then the average is “one and a half”. Not every unit will have 2 cars and in fact, not every unit will have a car. The “one and a half spaces” per unit requirement makes sense. The last thing we need in Watertown is to encourage more cars; we have enough traffic problems as it is.

  14. The overnight parking ban ordinance, which exists all year, is enforced only during the winter months and should remain in place. Most streets in Watertown are too narrow to allow for cars to be parked on the street (even on only one side) in the winter. Snow removal would be hampered by cars parked on the street and it would be impossible for emergency vehicles to travel streets narrowed not only by the snow, but by cars parked on the street, as well.
    The town makes overnight parking available for all residents at the High School parking lot, the Middle School parking lot, Cunniff School parking lot, Hosmer School parking lot, Lowell School parking lot, the lot at Victory Field, the lot behind the School Administration Building (rear of 30 Common St.), Coolidge Square Municipal lot (Wells Ave.), Watertown Square Municipal lot (behind CVS, Spring St. or Church St.), Watertown Public Library parking lot, Boylston @ Mt. Auburn St., town owned lot, and Watertown Police Department, 552 Main St. front lot.
    The Watertown Department of Public Works does an outstanding job of keeping our streets safe and clear of snow and ice and would not be able to continue to do so if they had to work around cars parked on the street.
    As a life-long Watertown resident and as a property owner for over thirty years, I have experienced many changes in Watertown, but I believe this suggested change would have only negative effects.
    The overnight winter parking ban should remain in place.

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