Parking Rules! A Guide to On-Street Parking

Posted on June 17, 2010


Parking on-street in Somerville and Cambridge can be challenging, to say the least. I’ve collected my fare share of tickets in both cities, but there are some things you can do to avoid the dreaded $20, $30 or (gasp!) $50 ticket (street-cleaing tickets in Somerville are now $50). Or even worse – the tow! (Cambridge tows religiously for street cleaning.)

First, get a resident parking sticker. Whether you live in Somerville or Cambridge, a resident sticker is well worth it! Somerville resident stickers cost $15 each and are good for one year, re-setting depending on where you live (my parking sticker is up for renewal every March). For an explanation of Somerville’s resident parking rules read here. Cambridge permits cost $8. For an explanation of Cambridge’s resident parking rules read here. Cambridge resident stickers renew January 1 every year.

To obtain a Somerville permit, go to:

Somerville Office of Traffic and Parking
133 Holland Street
Somerville, MA 02144

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM, Thursday 9:00 AM – 7:00 PM, Friday 9:00 AM – Noon

To obtain a Cambridge permit, go to:

Traffic, Parking & Transportation, City of Cambridge
344 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02139

Monday  8:30 AM – 8:00 PM, Tuesday – Thursday   8:30 AM – 5:00 PM, Friday 8:30 – Noon

Second, get a guest permit. In Somerville they cost $5 each, and you can get up to two per household. It’s a no-brainer. (Don’t let a guest use these for days on end however – the parking people keep track and you’ll get a ticket. For other special permits that the city allows (including a fun $1 one-day permit if you’re having a party and have lots of out-of-town guests driving in) click here. In Cambridge, you receive one guest permit complementary with your resident parking sticker. They do not issue additional guest permits. If you don’t have a car but would like a quest permit, click here (it’s $8 also).

Third, sign up for street-sweeping email alerts. These emails have saved me from the dreaded $50 Somerville street-cleaning tickets many times. I have friends who live in Cambridge and who have been towed for street-cleaning. It’s not fun. Or cheap.

Fourth, in Somerville sign up for snow emergency email alerts. I think this is a very useful reminder service provided by the city. During snow emergencies in Somerville you can only park on the odd-numbered side of the street. And then you have to move your car within a certain amount of time after the snow emergency is over. Sound confusing? Sign up for the alerts and they explain it all.

If, after all this, you still get a ticket, you can always pay your parking ticket online. Somerville’s online bill pay service is here and Cambridge’s is here. In Somerville there’s a $3 service charge for paying parking tickets online so I usually mail them in. In Cambridge, it’s free. Go figure.

One other thought on parking in Somerville, learned the hard way (unfortunately more than once). In Somerville (and perhaps Cambridge as well, but I haven’t been ticketed there yet) you cannot park within 20 feet of an intersection. On residential streets with many side streets, this can get pretty tough. I’ve never seen a parking person measure the 20 feet and my anecdotal evidence is that they don’t ticket as long as you are outside of 10 feet from an intersection. (I called once to complain about a ticket and was told that the rule is there so that fire trucks can turn down these narrow side street in case of emergencies.) But the tricky part is that there’s no sign or painted curb to explain the law. You just have to know. Unfortunately, most of us get a ticket and then learn the rule.

Posted in: City Info