Boston's stories of justice, hope and resilience

The Scope

Boston's stories of justice, hope and resilience

The Scope

Boston's stories of justice, hope and resilience

The Scope

City Council weighs in on parking meter benefit districts

Representatives also heard Councilor Erin Murphy’s request for information on issues with Boston Public School summer programs.
Photo: Brett Wharton (Unsplash)

On Nov. 1, Boston’s City Council met for their last weekly meeting before the Nov. 7th municipal election. The agenda for the session was light, featuring the approval of the mayor’s appointees, passed resolutions from the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee, and amended the city’s language on forms to be more gender inclusive. 

This week did present some issues of interest to Bostonians. First, Councilor Ricardo Arroyo asked the council to consider creating Parking Benefit Districts, which would allow business districts or main street organizations to collect funds from parking meters and use them for the improvement of their area. Second, Councilor Erin Murphy raised resolutions to request information about concerns with the Boston Public School District summer school and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility non-compliance. 

Parking Benefit Districts 

Arroyo asked the city council to set a hearing to establish parking meter benefit districts. According to the councilor, the districts would “create specific geographic areas from which parking revenue is collected and reinvested back into that specific area or district for transportation related improvements.” Massachusetts law currently allows for parking benefit districts. However, they have not yet been established in Boston. 

Councilor Liz Braedon thanked Arroyo for raising the issue and encouraged the discussion to “maintain, revitalize and keep main streets vital” in her district, which covers Allston-Brighton. Braedon also hinted that the parking districts could be a way to increase parking space by preventing people from parking along the main streets all day. Councilor Gabriela Coletta supported the idea and applauded her colleagues for leading the initiative. 

“I want to commend [Arroyo] for his creativity in looking for solutions in trying to solve for the perennial issue of parking in the city,” Coletta said. The councilor also highlighted her own work on auditing parking regulations, improving parking enforcement in Boston and digitizing the regulations surrounding the issue. She said the parking benefit districts would be a compliment to her work. 

The hearing was referred to the Committee on City Services and Innovation Technology.

Violations of the Boston Public School District

Councilor Erin Murphy brought forth orders to request information on staffing shortage incidents during summer school terms held at Boston Public Schools institutions. requested information about ADA compliance at an English high school in Boston. Murphy first raised the issue Aug. 30 and has been refiling the same request since then. The councilor continues to state that her questions about the incidents have not been addressed. 

Murphy’s information request follows her own inquiry into the school district, which she claims found a lack of social workers or support for staff going into the new school year. 

The second request for information stems from students needing wheelchair access when they get off the bus at the English High School in Jamaica Plain. Before the start of the school year, Murphy visited the school and staff assured her that ramps would be installed on the campus. No progress has been made on that assurance, so Murphy is once again requesting clarity on the issue, citing the school’s need to comply with ADA regulations. 

Murphy emphasized the importance of the issue by reminding the council that students from the school attended the city’s Civic Engagement Day and the council’s meeting on ADA regulations on Oct. 17, voicing their concerns about not having ramps. 

“When we bring our special education students on such an important day, civic education day, […] and they speak up and then we fail them and we don’t follow through,” Murphy said. “That’s concerning to me.” 

Ultimately, the rules were suspended and the order to request the information was passed.

Boston’s City Council meets every Wednesday. Meetings are open to the public and are streamed for free online.

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