The Peabody City Council took a welcome step into the modern age recently by abandoning its all-winter parking ban and adopting a more resident-friendly approach.
This winter, residents can park their cars on the street unless there is a snow emergency. It means an end to the inconvenience of finding an off-street parking space every night of the winter, even when there’s not a snowflake in sight. The new policy is particularly helpful to downtown residents, for whom finding off-street parking can be a major hassle.
It will also help police, who won’t have to spend their time ticketing parked cars all winter long when there’s no logical reason they can’t be parked on the street.
The system is similar to the one used in Salem and Beverly. The city will notify residents by using the latest technology — flashing blue lights on city streets, emails, low-power radio station 1640 AM, Nixle (a home telephone program), cable TV and social media. Violators will face a $50 fine plus towing charges.
The system seems to work well in Beverly and Salem. With the first winter snowfall, there are usually a few instances of towing, but people catch on quickly after that. In Salem in 2011, snow piles from repeated storms posed a safety threat by the time February rolled around, but the city responded quickly, restricting parking to just one side of the street until mid-March to make more room for snowplows. It’s the only time the city has had to do that, and by all accounts it worked.
In Peabody, this new policy is particularly appropriate, as the city has set a goal of trying to encourage more people to live in the downtown area — a key to reinvigorating the area.
As the technology has made notifying the public easier, more communities will probably move to such a system. Danvers is one of the holdouts for a full winter ban on the North Shore but has been hearing from residents upset about having to juggle cars and find off-street parking when there is no emergency.
For sure, snowplow drivers would prefer to have completely empty streets every night, just to make sure there’s no impediment when the snow does fall. We applaud the Peabody City Council, however, for balancing the interests of all residents in coming up with a policy that should ease the burden on residents without compromising safety.