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Murphy's Law and Boston Parking

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Here's the latest installment of Bates By the Numbers, a weekly feature by Boston real estate agent David Bates that drills down into the Hub's housing market to uncover those trends you would not otherwise see. Follow him on Twitter and check out his ebook, Context: Nine Key Condo Markets, 2.0.

I once parallel-parked so tightly that it would not be a gross exaggeration to say there was even an inch of space that separated my car from the cars in front and back of it.

It took maybe two hundred wheel gyrations to get in the space, and it was sure great to secure street parking in one of the city's toughest parking neighborhoods, the North End. But when it was time to leave I honestly couldn't see how I could get out of the space. Passersby saw my situation and empathized: "That guy really screwed you," they called out, mistakenly thinking the car parked in front of me was responsible for my unfortunate predicament. Finally, I called my wife and asked her to pick me up. I could go back later and get the car.

In Boston, if you resist doling out small fortunes for exclusive parking, the daily challenge of finding free or even metered parking is a battle that sometimes you win and sometimes you give up on. Then there are the times you think you have won… only to find a large, orange-colored envelope on your windshield.

As an active real estate agent who rises to that parking challenge on a daily basis, here are some of my thoughts on this important topic.

· The government doesn't want you to know that they have perfected technology that makes parking enforcers invisible to the naked eye.
· Contrary to popular opinion, parking enforcers don't actually need to see the meter; if you have parked overtime, they can smell it.
· The City of Boston gave out 1.3 million tickets last year, about 3,500 a day, more than two every minute.
· If there is only one parking space available and only one car in front of you, that car will take that parking space.
· If the parking space looks too good to be true, it probably is either a hydrant, a handicapped space or reserved.
· Sometimes the only way to find out if your car can fit in a space is to try to park in that space.
· The toughest time to find parking in the city is lunch time.
· If you pay close attention to the signs, you will find more spaces and get fewer tickets.
· The more respect a handwritten, posted sign gets, the more likely it is this is the date you can't park there. The less respect a sign gets…
· The most important sign to pay attention to is the street-cleaning sign.
· Don't try to find parking on Monday morning in Back Bay, or on Wednesday afternoon in the South End; that's when they clean the street.
· Don't try to find parking in South Boston after a snow storm or in Fenway after 5PM.
· Keep a few quarters in your car or purse.
· Being distracted is the biggest reason you get a ticket: Check your ADD at the curb.
· Sometimes, the first 10 minutes of lot parking are free, but the next 10 minutes can cost an arm and a leg. If you need to park in those lots for three hours, it's best to have first secured financing to help pay for the space.
· Paid parking over three hours is the same as parking for 24 hours. You are incredibly cost efficient if you have a 21-hour back-up plan.
· A 2010 study by Colliers International ranked Boston as the third-costliest place to park. Boston ranked behind Honolulu and NYC Midtown, but ahead of Chicago and NYC Downtown.
· Fight the parking powers that be! More than 72,000 parking tickets were thrown out last year in Boston.
· The closer you are to paid lots, the tougher the parking is enforced.
· Don't exaggerate: NStar and National Grid only take up 50 percent of the Back Bay's available parking spaces every summer.
· If it's 2 degrees out, I don't care how many bikes we have in the house, I'm taking the car and looking for parking.
· Developers who build buildings without parking are braver than me.
· If you must have two deeded parking spaces and are seeking housing for under $1 million, you don't need to live downtown.
· The time to check your meter or move your car was five minutes ago.
· Condos with rental parking sell for more than condos with no parking.
· The worse the weather, the more ticket-resistant the car is. (February was the least ticketed month.)
· Conversely, if it's beautiful out, don't even think about letting the meter expire.
· Newbury Street might have more parking enforcers than hair salons and give more tickets than haircuts.
· If you parked illegally, it's a good idea to check your windshield at least twice. That way the ticket you just got won't surprise you later when you're driving.
· Parking is tougher on snow days.
· The city's report, Access Boston 2000-2010 (PDF), noted that Boston has 134,000 off-street parking spaces. Now, if they would just let us know where those parking spaces are located.
· Don't hate the parking players, hate the parking game.
· Don't curse the ticket you got. Give thanks for the ones you didn't get.

If you have any tips or thoughts about parking in the city, let's hear them!
· Our Bates By the Numbers archive [Curbed Boston]