UC Berkeley parking squeeze tightens

| April 25, 2013

Nothing may epitomize parking issues in Berkeley, CA better than the single star given the city’s parking enforcement on popular online review site Yelp. The score beats out a similar page for Los Angeles (1.5 stars) but equals the same for the nation’s capital, which also received one star out of a possible five. “Is it possible to give no stars???” asked a reviewer on Berkeley’s page.

Shops on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley, CA

You may detect a distinct lack of parking in this shot of Telegraph Avenue. Expect even less from now on. Via virtualsugar, licensed under Creative Commons.

The frustration fueling the reviews may heat up with the news that the UC Berkeley parking system will lose 650 spaces (roughly 10 percent of its total inventory of 6,000 spaces) by September, just in time to coincide with the start of the academic year. The loss will push drivers—faculty, staff, and students alike—to compete for parking in the surrounding residential and business district, with parking violations likely to see an uptick. (That may be good news for the city’s ledger, which noted a $900,000 drop in parking ticket revenue between 2009 and 2011, despite increased parking fines.)

The parking squeeze has already begun. Last month the university shut down two parking structures: one at its western border of Oxford Street will close permanently, while another along its southern border of Bancroft Way will be closed until 2015.  To offset the elimination of the combined 420 spaces, the school has rented 50 parking spaces at a nearby office building and added stacked parking to another site. Local business groups worry the effort won’t be enough to relieve the pressure that the lost spaces puts on city and private parking lots, as well as on-street parking.

No Parking You Will Be Towed Immediately sign

In Berkeley, California, love is free but parking is not. The city is about to lose several hundred precious parking spots. Via myparkingpermit.com.

Their concerns may grow. In August, a third closure along Bancroft Way will remove an additional 230 spaces. Like the Oxford Street parking structure that went down in March, the third will be replaced by a new building that serves the university; an aquatic center will be built at the cleared site.

The closures leave a parking shortfall of approximately 150 spaces for the roughly 5,500 faculty and staff who commute by car to the university. Seamus Wilmot, UC Berkeley parking director, told the Contra Costa Times that the school has no immediate plans to create more parking around the campus. Instead, the university is looking to further promote mass transit, with drivers encouraged to consider Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) or Alameda-Contra Costa Transit (AC Transit) for their commutes to campus.

Berkeley councilman Jesse Arreguin, whose district encompasses the area where the closures are taking place, told reporter Doug Oakley that “the university isn’t doing enough to get its faculty and staff out of their cars.” City staff isn’t necessarily doing a better job, he continued.

“The reality is there is still going to be a significant number of people who choose to drive,” Arreguin said. Convincing them of the value of public transit won’t be easy.

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Category: Enforcement, Municipal

About the Author ()

Cielo Lutino is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn, NY. She has written for such publications as the L Magazine and Portland Monthly, and her literary nonfiction has appeared in journals such as the Los Angeles Review and Cold Mountain Review.

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