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Parking Freezes

Boston's parking freezes reduce air pollution caused by cars by capping the number of off-street parking spaces in a given area.

The Air Pollution Control Commission oversees the Downtown, East Boston, and South Boston Parking Freezes.

Annual renewal

All parking freeze permits and exemption certifications must be renewed annually by July 1 each year. The APCC sends information to permit holders starting 30 days from the renewal date.

To renew, mail your payment following the instructions in your invoice. Then, complete and submit the Google renewal form. If required, complete and submit a parking and electric vehicle usage report.

To learn more, contact our staff at APCC@boston.gov.

Downtown Boston Parking Freeze

The City created the Downtown Boston Parking Freeze in 1976 under rules set by:

  • the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, and
  • the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR 52.1135).

The freeze limits the availability of commercial parking spaces in Downtown Boston.

REGULATIONS

The City approved the regulations for the Downtown Boston Parking Freeze in 1978. They were most recently amended in September 2020. The regulations include a map of the freeze area.

The Downtown freeze applies only to commercial spaces open to the general public. Spaces reserved for the use of a building's employees, customers, and guests are exempt from the cap on commercial spaces, but need to be permitted by the Commission. Residential spaces are excluded.

Downtown Boston regulations

NUMBER OF SPACES

In the Downtown Boston freeze area, the City allows a maximum of 35,556 public parking spaces in commercial parking facilities. As of January 5, 2022, there are 4,327 spaces in the parking freeze bank.

The Commission can allocate these to parking facilities. The actual number of facilities and spaces changes as old parking lots close and new ones open. We welcome and encourage informal inquiries from owners and developers.

South Boston Parking Freeze

The City created the South Boston parking freeze area in 1993 under rules set by the state Department of Environmental Protection (310 CMR 7.33). The freeze area was one of the air quality mitigation measures taken during the Central Artery/Tunnel project.

regulations

The Commission adopted regulations for the freeze in 1994. After the City inventoried existing parking spaces, we began issuing permits in 2004. The City most recently amended the regulations in September 2020. 

The regulations include a definition of the freeze area. The regulations divide South Boston into three zones:

  • the Piers Zone
  • the Industrial/Commercial Zone, and
  • the Residential Zone.

South Boston regulations

NUMBER OF SPACES

The freeze allows a maximum of 30,342 off-street parking spaces in South Boston. Residential parking spaces are largely — though not completely — excluded from the freeze. As of December 16, 2021, there are 1,166 spaces in the parking freeze bank.

The Commission can allocate these to new parking facilities. The actual number of facilities and spaces changes as old parking lots close and new ones open. We welcome and encourage informal inquiries from owners and developers. 

SET-ASIDE PROVISION

The provision of the South Boston parking freeze that most recently came into effect is the 20-percent set-aside. Section III (3) of the regulations has more specific information.

At first, parking lot operators in the Piers Zone had to reserve 10 percent of their spaces for drivers after 9:30 a.m. This rose to 20 percent after the opening of the MBTA’s Silver Line in December 2004. The set-aside provision does not affect the Industrial/Commercial Zone or the Residential Zone.

East Boston Parking Freeze

The City created the freeze area in 1989 under rules set by the state Department of Environmental Protection (310 CMR 7.31).

The East Boston parking freeze limits the availability of:

  • park-and-fly parking spaces, and
  • rental car parking spaces.
REGULATIONS

The City adopted regulations for the East Boston freeze in 1992. The freeze works in conjunction with the Massport/Logan Airport parking freeze (310 CMR 7.30). The Massport freeze caps the number of commercial and employee parking spaces at Logan Airport. The Commission most recently updated the regulations in September 2020.

East Boston regulations

NUMBER OF SPACES

There are currently two active permits for park-and-fly parking lots with a total of 702 spaces. There are three active permits for rental car parking lots with a total of 2,856 spaces. 

There are no spaces in the East Boston parking freeze bank. We are not accepting applications for new East Boston permits.

Commission policies

Electric vehicle readiness policy

Electric vehicles (EVs) are cars or other vehicles that run completely, or in part, on electricity. They produce less pollution from the tailpipe, and can often save people money.

The Commission has adopted the Electric Vehicle Readiness Policy developed by the Boston Transportation Department. The policy helps ensure EV drivers have access to safe and convenient places to charge in Boston. This effort is part of Boston’s commitment to making Boston carbon neutral.

ARE YOU Interested in going electric?

Check out Recharge Boston, our EV resource program. You can:

  • learn more about EVs
  • download how-to guides for installation, and
  • learn about grants and incentives.

Do you have an EV? You can find a public charging station on this interactive map:

Electric Vehicle map

Bike Parking Guidelines

The Commission has adopted the 2020 Bike Parking Guidelines, published by the Boston Transportation Department. These guidelines aim to ensure the provision of adequate, secure, and convenient bike parking for residents, workers, students, and visitors in Boston.

Bikes provide a clean and active option for commuters and other travelers across the City. Go Boston 2030, the City's long-term transportation plan, set an aspirational goal to quadruple bike ridership. To support this goal, people must have confidence that their journey will end with a safe and convenient place to park their bike. That's true whether at their residence, place of employment, or other everyday destination. By adopting these guidelines, the Commission is supporting bike ridership growth and cleaner air.

are you interested in commuting by bike?

Boston Bikes has shared guidance on how to choose a bike, ride, park and fix your bike, plan a route, and get accessories:

Boston By Bike Guide

MAXIMUM PARKING RATIOS

The Commission has adopted the maximum parking ratio guidelines released by the Boston Transportation Department in October 2021. The new guidelines set maximum parking spaces allowed for new developments over 50,000 square feet. The new ratios are site-specific, based on proximity to amenities like subway stations and grocery stores. These guidelines will help us reduce emissions and create more walkable neighborhoods.

Maximum Parking Ratios

DO YOU LIVE OR WORK IN A LARGE BUILDING?

Large developments over 50,000 square feet are required to complete a Transportation Access Plan Agreement (TAPA). The TAPA specifies commitments that reduce a development’s transportation impacts. These include transit subsidies, parking cash-out, or car share programs. You may view all completed TAPAs executed from the 1980s to the present day in our online database:

List of all known, executed TAPAs 

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