Sunday, January 6, 2013

More Parking discussions, Sat 1/12 and Tues 1/15

The Transportation Committee meeting on December 11 at the Fire Station on Hollis Street was very well attended, thanks in part to the efforts of Ken Bukowski. We had about 30 people there: residents, property owners, and business owners. Many points of view were expressed, and quite a bit of concern about changes, as well as frustration about the current situation.

This issue is not an easy or obvious one to solve. Emotions run high when it comes to parking. Some expressed the "right" to park for free in front of homes or businesses. Some pointed fingers at other property owners who have not handled parking needs correctly. Some said that we do not want to be like Oakland or Berkeley where parking is too hard or too expensive. Others said that permit parking will be the future, sooner or later. Some said there are too many empty parking garages, perhaps because of the fees charged there. Some say that the public doesn't respect private parking for customers, disregarding signs. Although many say that these problems already exist, there was real fear that any changes will make them worse, not better.

I recognize that parking management is very complex. I do not believe that Emeryville has a parking shortage. I think that we have a parking management problem, and that we should try to make sure that each street has spaces for the users who have priority for that area. If you are allowed to park for free all day long in front of your house or business, then it will be very hard to prevent anyone else from doing so as well, or worse, instead of you.

On Saturday, January 12 at 10:00 am, Ken Bukowski is hosting a community meeting at the Ralph Hawley School site at Doyle St. and 61st St. to have the opportunity to talk more about parking issues in Emeryville. I am grateful that he is allowing me to address the gathering for 10 minutes. Please consider attending and sharing your point of view as well. His flyers talk about a parking plan in a limited part of town that the City Council is considering implementing, and will be discussing on Tuesday, January 15, City Hall, 7:15 pm. The plan has been waiting on the shelf for 3 years. It is a sensible plan with a phased approach and monitoring in place to see how changes that are put in place impact availability. It does not include paid parking in the first year or two, only later in the plan. The initial changes include limited time parking, with the painting of green curbs on certain blocks. Later in the plan there is also the possibility of residential parking permits and business/employee parking permits, if there is a need to support these uses.

I know that we all need to do our part to reduce reliance on cars, not only in Emeryville, but in the region, in the state and the world. It is a hard change to make for many of us. We have already committed to these changes with our state laws, such as SB375. Regulating on-street parking is one way to change people's behavior. Free parking actually costs all of us a lot of money in the long run.

Please consider joining me on Saturday morning, or on Tuesday evening. I welcome your comments.