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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.

Have questions? Contact us:

Air Pollution Control Commission
1 City Hall Square, Room 709
Boston, MA 02201

Proposed regulation changes

The Commission voted on September 16, 2020, to amend the procedures and criteria for the issuance of permits for the Downtown, South Boston, and East Boston Parking Freezes.

View current regulations, approved revisions, and redline changes.

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 parking freeze in 1978. They were amended in March 2006. 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 freeze area, the City allows a maximum of 35,556 public parking spaces in commercial parking facilities. As of December 31, 2013, there are no spaces in the parking freeze bank. The actual number of facilities and spaces changes as old parking facilities close and new ones open. We welcome and encourages 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 amended the regulations in March 2006. 

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 30,389 off-street parking spaces in South Boston. Residential parking spaces are largely — though not completely — excluded from the freeze. 

As of March 17, 2020, there are 1,834 spaces in the parking freeze bank. The City 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.

PERMIT RENEWALS

The Air Pollution Control Commission sends information to existing permit holders each year about renewals. You can check online to see if your permit is about to expire. If you have any questions, contact us at 617-635-3850 or APCC@boston.gov.

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.

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.

APCC Policies

Electric vehicle readiness policy

Electric vehicles 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 electric vehicle 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 electric vehicle resource program. You can:

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

Do you have an electric vehicle? 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 the City of 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—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