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Environment laws limit parking spaces

By Joanna Stone

Recent regulations may further increase the already great shortage of parking spaces at MIT.

"The biggest problem is that people feel they have to commute because there isn't adequate public transportation," said Lydia S. Snover, senior planning officer for Institute research.

And while the number of commuters is on the rise, the number of available spaces may be frozen. Currently, there are a total of about 5000 spaces to serve the MIT community of over 16,000. And the 1974 Environmental Protection Agency Clean Air Act restricts the Institute to provid

ing parking to only one-in-three commuters.

And this past Monday, Cambridge City Council passed an ordinance forcing the city to comply with the Clean Air Act. However, in a compromise, the ordinance exempts existing employee parking lots.

"We were hoping to get a total exemption for employee parking lots," said Sarah J. Eusden, assistant for government and community relations in the president's office. Instead, the cur

rent ordinance exempts operating employee parking and gives "special consideration" to future employee parking.

Eusden said that all MIT parking would be deemed "employee parking" and that under the new ordinance, when MIT needs additional parking, it must apply to the Internal Park Control Committee for permits.

The total number of additional spaces to be granted in the future has been set at 500 for the entire city, plus whatever spaces are made available as permits expire. For example, about 450 spaces are opening because the temporary parking at Lechmere is closing.

"In the worst-case scenario [the parking situation] would worsen significantly in the future, because there wouldn't be anymore parking spaces to apply for," Eusden said.

A more comprehensive State Implementation Plan is currently in the works that will address the issue of "special considerations" for employee parking. MIT is hoping to help work on SIP.

"We'd like to turn parking allocations into a positive thing," Eusden said. She said she would like to see organizations such

as MIT rewarded with parking spaces for effective traffic mitigation plans.

For example, things like T-pass programs, changing employee shifts, and car and van pooling would help lessen traffic and alleviate pollution, Eusden said.

"We think traffic mitigation is a good thing and want to be part of it," she said, adding that there would be no better way to encourage such efforts than through a positive rather than punitive allocation process.

Although currently many students and employees wanting parking spaces are denied them, Snover insists that MIT's parking situation is a comparatively good one.

"We're more generous than any place around in an urban environment," Snover said. She noted that MIT does not charge for parking and only charges a $10 administrative fee for the sticker. "Whereas at Harvard they pay a lot of money to park at far-away places," she added.