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Street Parking: Can You Handle It?

With the big snow scare this Wednesday putting most of the area on “snow emergency” status, it seems like a good time to talk a bit about the street parking situation in Cambridge and Somerville. Obviously, most of us would love to have a designated off-street spot of our very own, but the reality is, we live in a densely-built area, where parking is a perk, not a given. Just how important it is in your selection of a home is a decision only you can make, but here’s a little info to help you in your thinking…

The Basics: Cambridge and Somerville car owners may purchase residential parking stickers (currently $8 for Cambridge and $15 for Somerville) which entitle you to park in any resident spot in your city. If you live in Cambridge you get one visitor pass for free with your sticker, and in Somerville, you can buy up to two visitor passes for $5 each. These passes must be used in the vicinity of your home and are subject to other usage restrictions.

Availability of street parking varies by neighborhood, and is affected by neighboring businesses, schools, yoga studios — anything that draws a crowd. Generally, you’ll have an easier time on side streets than on say, Mass Ave, where most parking is metered and/or limited to two hours. And this can be an issue even if you do score a home with an off-street spot, assuming you’ll occasionally/frequently have visitors who come by car.

Advanced Topics: Seasonal street cleaning and snow emergencies are infrequent inconveniences, but still worth keeping in mind. Street cleaning happens once a month from April through December, and generally only affects one side of the street at a time. Snow emergencies in Cambridge affect only major through streets, but in Somerville cars are required to be moved from the even numbered side of ALL streets in the city. Alternative parking is available in both towns in these situations.

For more detail on the local parking situation (including fines and towing policies), visit the parking & traffic sites for Cambridge and Somerville. And when evaluating homes, my best advice is to drive by at different times of day and days of the week to get a sense of parking availability.


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