City of Lawrence to revert 15-minute parking meters on Mass. Street back to regular meters

A line of parking meters is pictured in this file photo from May 2007.

The City of Lawrence is planning to revert the yellow meters along Massachusetts Street that only allow visitors to park for a maximum of 15 minutes back to regular two-hour meters.

The idea initially came up at the Lawrence City Commission meeting on July 19, when the commission voted to adopt a long-term version of a program that has temporarily allowed downtown businesses to construct patios and outdoor dining areas, known as “parklets,” in downtown parking stalls. Some retailers have expressed concern about the parking spaces that the parklets take away, and City Manager Craig Owens brought up the idea of reverting the 15-minute meters back to regular meters in the context of that discussion.

The city announced on Friday that it would revert all the 15-minute meters to regular parking in the coming weeks. As part of its meeting Tuesday, the commission will receive a update on the conversion. There are 19 short-term parking stalls along Massachusetts Street, and the city plans to covert them all to two-hour meters over the next 15 to 20 business days, according to a city staff memo.

The 15-minute meters were added in 2010 and were intended to allow for the quick pickup or drop-off of items at Massachusetts Street storefronts. However, the memo states they have been underutilized compared to the two-hour meters that make up the majority of metered parking along Massachusetts Street. Specifically, recent occupancy data shows the 15-minute meters have a peak occupancy of 41.5% around the lunch hour but other survey times average only 30.7% occupancy.

The conversion of the 19 meters will increase two-hour parking spaces on Massachusetts Street by 5.5%. That change will help offset some of the parking spaces that could potentially be lost because of the parklet program. The recently approved regulations allow a certain number of parklets per block, with a limit of 12 parking spaces per city block.

On Massachusetts Street, the program is open on the approximately five blocks ranging from Sixth Street to North Park Street, meaning that if the city were to max out the number of parklets allowed, it would take away approximately 60 spots from Massachusetts Street. Currently there is only one block, the 700 block, that has 12 stalls utilized for parklets.

The city stated in a news release Friday that it will begin converting the 15-minute metered stalls to two-hour meters on Monday, Aug. 15. The release also states the city made the decision to convert all 19 of the current 15-minute parking stalls to two-hour parking stalls because the two-hour parking stalls can also be used for short-term parking needs.

The hourly rate charged for 15-minute and two-hour metered parking stalls is the same at 25 cents per 15 minutes or $1 per hour, according to the news release. The memo states the change is expected to result in a marginal increase in parking meter revenue.

The Lawrence City Commission will convene at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 6 E. Sixth St.


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