Where Did All the Parking Go?

The city-owned Winthrop Square Parking Garage, at 240 Devonshire Street, recently closed due to serious structural problems. Built in the 1960s, this Boston garage accommodated 550 cars at discounted rates from the much higher priced private facilities.

This now further exacerbates the commuter parking problem, already destabilized by the continuing loss of surface parking spaces due to the heated development activities in the Seaport area. Employers may soon start to hear the complaints, as workers begin to personally absorb these increased costs.

The “dirty secret” is that the only reason the Financial District’s parking freeze has worked for so long was that there was a large surplus of low-cost parking nearby.  The same goes for the Seaport’s parking freeze.  As more buildings eat up the surface lots, fewer spaces will remain – as demand increases substantially.

Commercial parking freezes are an ineffective means of providing cleaner air, especially when they are targeted exclusively at a particular municipality.  An unintentional result of a parking freeze is its negative effect on economic development, limiting the ability of new businesses to create jobs, existing businesses to expand, and leading, in many cases, to shifting growth to areas without such restrictions.

Maybe now is the time to rethink this outdated method of controlling auto emissions.


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