Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The annual return of the street sweepers to Somerville

It's not quite as romantic as the swallows' annual return to San Juan Capistrano, unless you're the person who counts the money generated by ticket fines on street cleaning day; however, April 1 is upon us and some of us will be moving our cars to the even side of the street before the sweepers come around on Thursday morning, preceded by the inevitable ticketers.

If my last year's experience proves consistent, there will be no grace period or warnings for those who forget to move their vehicles because it's the first week; instead there will be a bright orange envelope secured to your windshield wiper and flapping in the breeze for sending in your hard-earned (if you still have a job) $50 to the Traffic and Parking Office.

Boston.com does provide help for those of us who haven't memorized this year's list of first and third Thursdays and second and fourth Fridays yet. Go to bostonsweeper.boston.com and enter your city and street name to receive e-mail notification the day before the sweeper comes around.

My goal, as always, is to get it right every time, but there are a lot of first and third Thursdays and second and fourth Fridays to come before the end of December and the thought is rather discouraging. I really believe that one's first street cleaning violation of the year should be waived in common courtesy to residents who have more on our minds than whether tomorrow will be the first or second Thursday or the third Friday or whether it will be Thursday or Friday at all. Unfortunately, this year's budget cuts make it likely that parking ticket revenues will be grasped at harder than ever.

If you're frustated with Somerville's ticketing policies (and who that drives a car here isn't?), don't forget that you can hop over to the Somerville Parking Problems Google group to kvetch with others in the same boat. I think we should start keeping a running total over there of the fees we've paid as a constituency. I'm sure it will horrify us and make the parking commissioner dance with glee.

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