Tweet prompts look at potentially shutting off parking meters around State House
Two Providence City Council members sponsor resolution to disable meters or stop enforcement when legislators in session
The State House appears in the distance from this parking meter on Gaspee Street in Providence. (Photo by Kevin G. Andrade)
PROVIDENCE — Two members of the Providence City Council want to disable parking meters around the State House when the General Assembly is in session to better promote public participation and engagement with the political process
A resolution by Providence City Council Majority Whip and Ward 6 City Councilor Miguel Sanchez and Senior Deputy Majority Leader and Ward 1 City Councilor John Gonçalves requests that either the city’s parking enforcement officers and traffic engineer disable parking meters or not police the meters when the General Assembly is in session.
The two chambers of the General Assembly — the Rhode Island House of Representatives and Senate — are in session January through July. The chambers generally meet on their respective floors at 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
The resolution went before the City Council during its 6 p.m. meeting Thursday at City Hall.
The resolution passed.
“I just think it’s an unnecessary barrier for civic engagement,” Sanchez said. “Any time we offer free parking, I think that would increase civic engagement.”
Sanchez said he was moved to introduce the resolution after seeing a tweet two weeks ago by Clean Water Action Rhode Island Director Jed Thorp.
“Hot take: all parking meters near the State House should be free after 3pm Jan-June.” Thorp tweeted. “Folks shouldn’t need to pay to come participate in the democratic process.”
Hot take: all parking meters near the State House should be free after 3pm Jan-June. Folks shouldn’t need to pay to come participate in the democratic process.
— Jed Thorp (@JedThorp) April 19, 2023
Thorp’s tweet was retweeted 17 times, quote tweeted once, garnered 139 likes, nine replies, and was viewed 5,894 times as of May 4.
Thorp had questioned not only efficacy of meters in collecting revenue, but whether Providence parking enforcement officials even monitored the State House meters.
“Not to mention, the City hardly ever checks,” he tweeted. “(I can confirm…I’ve rolled those dice more than once.) It couldn’t cost the city that much, and would be worth the lost revenue.”
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