>City Plans Effort to End Misuse of Parking Permits

Responding to recent complaints by Cambridge residents, city officials plan to start a new campaign against the illegal use of visitor parking permits.

Prompted by 10 to 15 calls a day from irate Cantabrigians complaining about the illegal use of permits by their neighbors and commuters working in the city, officials said they will start cracking down. The first area that will be hit by this enforcement effort is East Cambridge, officials said, adding that the crackdown will move northward towards Harvard Square.

While 479 visitor passes were revoked last month for misuse, no one has been prosecuted yet under the year-old City Ordinance 1024, which levies a fine of $300 against anyone involved with selling, stealing or altering visitor parking permits.

"We would rather get the person who is selling stolen permits than the person who is buying the permit," said Mary Monago, Resident Parking Supervisor at Cambridge City Hall.

Normally issued only to legal Cambridge residents, the three-dollar permits have been selling for $40 to $75 on the black market to commuting businessmen, Monago said. "Three parking tickets cost $45. An illegal permit pays for itself in three days," said Monago.

Monago also said that several Cambridge citizens have complained that neighbors obtain permits but claim on insurance forms to garage their car elsewhere. Residents who register their car in Massachusetts and principally garage it in Cambridge pay the third highest car insurance premium in the state, after Somerville and Boston, said Monago.

Those who claim to garage their car in Lexington, but actually keep it in Cambridge, pay an average of $200 less in insurance each year than a Cambridge resident with a Cambridge-registered car, Monago said.

Harvard students will not likely be affected by the crackdown, says Robert Burns, Manager of the Harvard Parking Office. Students who live in University-owned housing are ineligible to purchase visitor parking passes.