Little-known Providence parking policy frustrates drivers

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – It’s a familiar scenario for anyone who drives in Providence.

You park on a city street and pay the meter for two hours. When the meter has almost reached its time limit, you move your car to a new spot in the same area.

It turns out that may violate a little-known – and completely unadvertised – provision in the city’s parking policy, which mandates that drivers must move their car to an entirely new block to avoid paying an overtime parking fine.

According to Lindsay Lague, a spokesperson for Providence Public Safety, which oversees parking enforcement, a block is defined as a section of a street that is intersected by two streets.

The policy is outlined in Section 4 of the city’s parking regulations, but it’s not posted on city signs.

The policy is also not clear on Providence’s Parking FAQ webpage:

If the posted sign limit is two hours, can I go back and “feed” the meter to obtain additional time?

No. The posted sign limits of 30 minutes, 1hr, 2hrs, 3hrs, 4hrs and 10hrs are strictly enforced. The purpose of creating a time limit is to allow other motorists to find parking so that they can patronize local businesses. If you need longer term parking there are over 60 parking lots located throughout the City that charge affordable daily rates.

Larry Zagorsky lives and works downtown. He said he wasn’t aware of the parking policy.

“I guess it’s supposed to be for customers,” said Zagorsky. “What about the employees who work here? I mean, you don’t need the customers if you don’t have an employee to run the business! It doesn’t make sense!”

Jared Finn, a student at Brown University, said he was also unaware of the policy.

“That sort of makes me frustrated to be honest,” he said. “It’s just unfair because there are only so many limited spots.”

In an email to Call 12 for Action, Lague said that “signage for parking is literal. A 2-hour time limit means 2 hours. Drivers should not move to another space to circumvent the law. The city’s new website which will be up soon, will have this information posted on the Parking main page.”

Providence does not track the number of overtime tickets that are issued to drivers who have moved their cars to different parking spaces. Overtime parking violations cost $25.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.