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Will the New Parking Rules Make People Think Twice About Dining in Somerville?

It looks like meters in at least parts of Davis and Magoun Squares will be adjusted so that you have to feed them until 10:00 PM on Saturday nights (and 8:00 PM Monday through Friday), and all the permit-free streets will become permit parking only.

For those who drive into Somerville for dinner, will this make you hesitate before going? 10:00 on Saturday nights seems ridiculous to me (Boston is only 8:00) and losing all those permit-free streets is going to make the parking situation even tighter in some areas. What does everyone think?

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  1. Here's an item about the parking change from Wicked Local - http://tinyurl.com/p5lmnc

    From a chow perspective, I think this has terrible potential downstream effects as predicted by a number of food and drink purveyors in Davis in the article.

    But then, Cambridge parking pretty much sucks too and people still go there.

    The easy answer is make friends with Somerville residents and borrow their visitor's permit.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Bob Dobalina

      That blows. It will hurt anyone driving to have dinner at a local business.

    2. that just blows. Seriously - I *do* think twice about parking before I choose a destination. This is a major reason that I avoid Cambridge. And to be clear, it's not just about paying for parking, it's equally, if not more, about lack of availability with permit only restrictions. The first thing I think when wanting to go to Cambridge is, "oh christ, I'm going to drive around and around and around to find anything...and I can't really relax as I have to worry about getting up to feed the meter...and oh crap, do I even have any change? oh screw it"

      Then I'll go downtown (by T) or to Somerville or the north shore or ANY place else that, if I drive, lets me park *easily* and cheaply.

      I had no idea they were changing these rules. looks like Somerville is on the way out for me too =(

      4 Replies
      1. re: lisa13

        have to agree here. have not been to cambridge in years because of painful parking issues. why bother? too bad about somerville, it wasnt that easy to park anyway, but now?...

        1. re: lisa13

          lisa, there are a bunch of good places in the Central Square area, and there is a cheap garage on Green St. Believe me, I *hate* paying for parking; you can confirm this with Mrs. Alcachofa. But the Green St lot is so cheap, even I don't mind paying.

          1. re: Alcachofa

            The green st garage is dirt cheap in the evening. The lot on prospect near whole foods is free outside of biz hours, as is the po-po lot behind the post office.

        2. I stopped going to Downtown Liquors after getting a ticket for an 8p meter that had no signage on it - the parking is crowded but free at Fresh Pond for Cambridge Wine and Spirits - my new regular spot.

          1. This will absolutely discourage lots of people from eating in Somerville, since easy parking has been a real incentive to chose a place in Somerville over a similar place in Cambridge or Boston.

            1. Not just in Davis Square (or Magoun, I guess altho I never think of that as a dining destination) I worry about places like Highland Kitchen which aren't close to a T station and rely on street parking for patrons after 6.

              I've already sent my feelings to my Alderman, the two Aldermen at Large, and Alderman Bob Trane, who sits on the Parking commission. Don't know if it will help but neither will bitching on the internetz.

              4 Replies
              1. re: yumyum

                Note that Highland Kitchen has reserved spots in the lot out back.

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  It's also pretty easy to take the bus there.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    Depends where you're coming from.

                    Yeah, this will probably keep me from heading to Somerville, but it's easy enough to park in Boston this time of year, so no big loss.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      It's easy to take the bus in that the 90 and the 88 stop at the restaurant, and if you time it right from Davis, Lechmere or Sullivan, it is easy. If you don't, though, waiting a half hour for the next bus? Not so easy.

                2. I already avoid Somerville. This will make it even worse.

                  1 Reply
                  1. I don't have a car, so it doesn't affect me directly. I only avoid restaurants that I can't get to via the T.

                    I do worry about places that are not within an easy walk of a subway station, like Pescatore or Highland Kitchen (yeah, I know the latter has a lot and is bus-aceessible. But the lot is small and not everyone wants to time their visit to coincide with a bus that runs on the half hour at night).

                    I think it's a terrible idea for the city's businesses.

                    1. the new parking rules will definitely effect the dining in the davis area . its bad enough to park in that area. i know the city needs more money but there taking more money away from the restaurants .

                      1. In February, several of us left Martsa on Elm's and returned to our cars to find we all had $20 tickets. If the times were posted anywhere, they certainly were not visible, especially in the dark lot. Furthermore, the meters were not dug out. It does have a chilling effect .....

                        1. the parking commision should study the monetary diff between tickets ,the business taxes that will be lost if the rest. are forced out of business because of the above reason etc.......

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: foodperv

                            Oh, but that makes WAY too much sense. ;-)

                            1. I moved to Somerville two years ago after 10+ years in multiple neighborhoods in Boston. Somerville is, comparatively speaking, a piece of cake to park in both with and sans resident stickers. I also would hate to see somerville become a place (like the South End) where residents didn't eat out in their own neighborhoods on the weekends because it was overrun with non-neighborhood folks. I live a block from the Highland and I don't worry about the highland. Good food, better bar, and impeccable service. The somerville elected/appointed officials often are smarter about this stuff, too. Residents and independent businesss (through groups like DARBI) have way more input into decisions. If this idea crashed and burned (for some reason), my guess is it would be revisited. Somerville is a pretty data-driven government.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: RoseWethersfield

                                I agree that the people making the decision are well-meaning. I am sure there is a spreadsheet somewhere that shows how this move will increase turnover, and improve local business while also providing the city with additional revenue. I am also sure that in reality nobody knows what the net impact of the changes will be, and it will be difficult to figure out even after the changes have taken place.

                                My understanding is that one reason for the outcry is that the public was not involved in these decisions. The Somerville Theater, in particular, is a local business that is upset with the proposal.

                                Personally, I don't think the impact will be huge, but I don't think the overall effect will be good. Of course having the red line is huge, but I think another reason the restaurants in Davis do well is because parking is relatively low hassle. It only takes a slight decline in restaurant patronage (or one person drives home drunk because they don't have quarters) to make the whole thing not worth it.

                              2. For me its not about the price of parking, since for my purposes, its still cheaper, quicker, and more reliable than the F'n T. Its about the inconvenience of having to track down quarters and needing to keep going back to the car to feed the meter if I stay longer than 2 hours - which extending the hours just multiplies.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: LStaff

                                  Presumably they'll move to card-pay kiosks like they have in Harvard Square and on Newbury Street. Oh and the lot behind the Druid in Inman Square.

                                  1. re: yumyum

                                    There's a slightly different pilot program right now. Stop by Traffic and Parking to buy a $20 or $50 park card, which is credit-card-sized. Swipe it when you park, and it gives you the max amount of time. Swipe it again when you leave, and it *returns whatever time you haven't used.* No more quarters, either (but don't lose the card).

                                    ObFood: The card has a mild, plastic-y flavor.

                                    ObSrslyFood: Traffic and Parking is located a block or so from Dave's Fresh Pasta, where you can pick up a a sandwich to munch while walking to T&P.

                                    1. re: enhF94

                                      That's actually very cool! Don't suppose they'll make it inter-city so the same card could be used in Somerville, Boston, Cambridge, etc?

                                      1. re: winecafe95

                                        If they could make it interact with the T's CharlieCard, that would be fantastic.

                                2. I do have trouble with rules. Always have. Magoun Square, while smaller than Davis Square in size, does have many great dining/drinking establishments. Olde Magoun's Saloon, L'il Vinny's Italian Restaunrante, The Tavern on the Hill, Charssco Grill, Modesto Brazillian Bakery, all are located in the heart of the square and are consistently overlooked by Somervillle foodies. Not so much L'il Vinny's, does get some great out of town press and consistent word of mouth recommendations.

                                  So the question remains. Why single out these and the Davis Square establishments with a harmfull, inconsistent parking policy?

                                  Is that good? Can I stay?

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Joe Lynch

                                    Yep. There are a few hounds who have talked up the food at Olde Magoun's, and the Brazillian spots are well-chronicaled by another frequent poster, but I've never *never* heard anything about the food at Tavern on the Hill. The dumplings right down the block at Wang's are considered by many to be the best in Boston.

                                    I signed a petition this morning to ask the city to hold a public hearing. For those of you who frequent Davis, there is a petition at the Somerville Theater you can sign as a non-resident. For many of us, it is the shady way this decision was reached that is the problem.

                                    1. re: yumyum

                                      As far as I can tell, On the Hill Tavern isn't really known for its food so much as for its cheap pitchers of Bud. My wife and I went once a few years ago and had decent burgers with fresh-from-the-freezer fries. Nothing really good enough to justify a return trip. I'd recommend that Somerville foodies keep on overlooking it.

                                  2. Folks, parking is already a pretty borderline topic for us, but we recognize that this could have a significant impact on people's dining choices so we'd like to allow some discussion. Still, we're not the right place to get into the politics of the decision or promote campaigns to change it. Posts that are focused on which restaurants are still worth it, good alternative spots to park for certain restaurants, etc, are okay, but please try to keep the focus on restaurants and not politics. Thanks.

                                    1. I parked to go to Vinny's on Sat evening at 5:50PM, meter in effect till 6PM, got a tic from the meter dude, since then I bring quarters just in case.