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Amherst Parking Requires Permit
Change Suprises Students

Sharon N. Young Pong -- The Tech
These new parking signs, located by Kresge Auditorium, appeared along Amherst Street late last week.

By Sarah Y. Keightley
Editor in Chief

The Institute has converted about 50 parking spaces along Amherst Street, near Ashdown House and McCormick Hall, to permit-only parking without giving students advanced notice.

However, Chief of Campus Police Anne P. Glavin said, "We are not beginning enforcement until Monday, Dec. 5." The grace period will give students a chance to become familiar with the fact that they cannot park in these spaces, Glavin said.

The parking spaces that are affected are those along Amherst Street, between Massachusetts Avenue and Danforth Street - the short street between McCormick and Green Hall, according to Talitha Fabricius of the Planning Office. MIT has installed "Resident Parking" signs along this area, noting that cars must have the Kresge parking permit.

This move stems from a deal made with the City of Cambridge in March 1993 where MIT offered to build a permanent facility for the Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcohol Rehabilitation shelter in exchange for the ownership of one street and the lease of three other streets and sidewalks around campus.

In particular, Cambridge transferred ownership to MIT of part of Amherst Street and leases for Carleton and Hayward Streets, and a portion of the sidewalks on Vassar Street.

After acquiring these streets, MIT became responsible for the parking on these streets, said Associate Planning Officer Michael K. Owu. Because there is a parking freeze in effect in Cambridge right now, the Planning Office had to request an exemption from the city parking committee so that MIT can officially use the spaces, Owu said.

Because "the campus is zoned as a residential parking area, it is exempted from the parking freeze" as long as the parking spots will be limited to residential parking, Owu said.

"In order to legally use those spaces, we had to get a permit from Cambridge, from this parking committee. The chances of getting residential parking are higher than getting them as commuter spaces," Owu said. Because the spaces are being used by student residents "it made sense to continue to provide that service," Owu said.

Residents of Ashdown and Green Hall are now eligible for the Kresge parking permit, meaning that they will be able to use these Amherst Street spots, Glavin said. However, other students are only eligible for parking spaces in the Westgate lot, she said.

In order to use these spaces, students would have to follow the normal procedure for getting a parking permit, Owu said. Owu said he does not know why the parking spaces will not be open to undergraduates.

Students not informed

Some students were upset because they were not informed about this change in street parking. "No one in our dorm was told that they were doing this the first time I heard about this was when someone noticed the signs," said Thomas H. Burbine, chair of the Ashdown House Executive Committee.

Stephanie L. DeWeese '95 said, there was no hearing, and "no one will tell me why this has been done. Nothing has been mentioned to any students."

The parking division is in the process of sending out notices to residents in Ashdown, McCormick, Green Hall, and Baker House, Glavin said. Residents will be reminded of how to obtain permits in these notices, she said.

Students "should have been informed ahead of time," Owu said. "That was obviously a mistake."

Furthermore, students have raised safety concerns now that they are not allowed to park in front of their dormitories. Many people are upset because they have to park on Memorial Drive, where most cars are stolen or vandalized, Burbine said.

"It seems like they're doing all these things without telling anyone until after the fact, and it's disturbing a lot of [Ashdown] residents," Burbine said. This includes the installations of the card key and the possibility of converting Ashdown into an undergraduate dormitory, he said.

"As a freshman I was followed home, and ever since then I've been apprehensive when walking at night. Now they're forcing me to walk on Memorial Drive which is not well lighted," DeWeese said. It is not right, considering "MIT is always pushing for more safety," she said.

DeWeese called the situation an oxymoron because "you're giving the safe parking spots to the people who come [to MIT] for the day," that is, those who currently have Kresge lot parking permits, while students who park their cars overnight have to use Memorial Drive spaces.

As of yesterday afternoon, the Campus Police has only received three complaints about the situation, Glavin said. Owu said he has only heard one complaint.

Drivers of non-permit cars that are in these spaces on and after Dec. 5 will receive a $10 parking ticket, Glavin said.

Decision stems from federal policy

There is a "long history" which resulted in these parking spaces being converted to permit parking only, Owu said. Originally the federal Clean Air Act of 1973 imposed some regulations on certain cities deemed to be in violation of exceeding air pollution allowances, he said.

"The end result was the current parking freeze ordinance" in Cambridge that was put into affect a few years ago, Owu said. Under the freeze, Cambridge has a limited number of parking spaces and is required to put some restrictions on parking spaces, Owu said. "The idea is to have fewer cars coming in, less pollution," he said.

Cambridge is working with the state to try to control commuting plans and to reduce vehicular miles, said Sarah E. Gallop, assistant for government and community relations.

Also affected by the CASPAR deal are Hayward Street and Carleton Street.

Fabricius said that signs on Carleton and Hayward Streets are currently being put up. Hayward Street will have permit parking at night-time only, and Carleton Street will require an MIT permit. Now the Campus Police are in charge of these streets, she said.