With the Town Diner folks fixin' to serve up some tasty vittles in the Newton Centre T station, time to think about the parking on Braeland. With the exception of a few spaces on the Langley end, the parking is free and long-term. This does nothing to promote turnover and provides no money for the City. It does provide a relatively few spaces for commuters, which might ease demand for spaces in the neighborhood.
The diner is coming. Diner-driven demand for parking is coming. Competing demand for the Braeland parking is coming. The question is which parkers should be higher-priority: diners or T riders.
There are four options:
- Leave it as long-term, free parking, consigning it to T riders
- Leave it as long-term, but make it metered parking
- Leave it free, but make it short-term, making it more available for diner customers and other Newton Centre patrons
- Make it metered, short-term parking, maximizing turnover
There is no good reason for the parking to be free. Even if commuters are a higher priority, there is no reason that we should be subsidizing free parking for a relatively small fraction of T parkers (or other long-term parkers). Price the spaces for 85% occupancy (one or two open spaces on the stretch), and the city will have secured revenue without discouraging T use.
But, given the nature of Newton Centre and the need for parking to support local businesses, providing parking to commuters is not the best use of city-controlled spots. Better to add the Braeland spots to the inventory of spaces available for short-term use. And, use meters to create turnover. That will be good for the new diner and good for the other businesses that will be both competing for the spaces and also benefiting from the use of spaces by diners who then walk around the village.
How should the city use the meter revenue? Spend any meter revenue to be generated on Braeland right on Braeland. Narrow the street by a lot, add a bike lane, build a nice wide sidewalk with a wide grass berm, plant some street trees to provide a screen.
What to do about the concern about parking in the neighborhood? Accept that living near a commercial district means parking. Or, use mechanisms to directly limit parking, like residential parking permits. But, leaving free parking on Braeland is a blunt tool to deal with parking in residential areas, and it creates its own set of problems, problems that will be exacerbated by the new demand from the T station diner.