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Parking Battle Brewing in E’ville

Published On January 23, 2013 | By Rob |

The City Council unanimously approved to implement the first of a series of recommendations from the controversial North Hollis Short term Parking plan at last Tuesday’s council meeting. The five year old, 69 page Wilbur Smith Assoc. parking study recommends a multiple-solution approach to dealing with our escalating parking scarcity, the first of which is adding 141 short term spaces (mapped below) or 2-hour “green zones” expected to be implemented by the end of February. In addition, signage on Hollis will direct drivers to the fifty free 4-hour spaces that the city has subsidized in the Glashaus garage on Hollis and 65th. Part of the reason the vote went through without opposition is the low-risk nature of temporary parking and the relative low-cost of implementing it. The consensus comments of the council seemed to be a “let’s see how this goes”. The next phase of the plan is to evaluate the second recommendation of adding metered spots anticipated in late summer/early fall with implementation if approved to follow in early 2014 or later. Further information on the direction of transit can be found in this stakeholder survey.

Former city council member Ken Bukowski’s EPOA group (Emeryville Property Owners Association) hosted a series of community meetings in an attempt to rally citizens prior to Tuesday’s vote. He himself stood in opposition of the action citing that it was not something the community had initiated and argued that businesses were not in fact supportive of it. If you’ve never had the opportunity to attend a City Council or other community meeting, you may not be aware of broad opinions that the city possesses. Some residents and business owners take the “libertarian” approach that constraints on parking is a heavy-handed way of bloating our government and unfairly taxing us. One resident suggested a conspiracy theory so the powerful Wareham Development could artificially drive up the value of parking and profit from leasing spots from its nearby vacant lot (hmmm…) and there was also at least one resident that wanted to offer conflicting evidence of the science behind climate change. Many residents expressed frustration that the city’s pandering to development had gotten us into this mess.

In fairness, Bukowski invited Council Member Jennifer West to address the crowd and defend her reasoning for supporting this measure. West seems determined to find a compromise among these vast & conflicting opinions and has a newly minted Masters of Public Policy degree from Cal and professional position at the Transform public transportation non-profit to back up her stances. She reviewed her three-pronged Management/Balance/Long-Term approach with those in attendance and outlined her own thoughts on dealing with parking on her professional blog. West’s overall philosophy on parking seems to be ‘Free, unrestricted parking encourages abuse/Paid Parking encourages greater use of Public Transportation’.

I can personally attest to the increasing difficulty of parking in my own Park Avenue District. Business owners I spoke with would like to see greater turnover in parking to allow patrons to visit their establishments but are dubious of stricter enforcements that would penalize violators of the current lenient approach. ”If clients can’t park easily, this is a problem. No one likes to have to circle the block and be late because there are no spots free” says Shed Salon proprietor Lisa Harvey. “It is very helpful to my business to have 2 hour parking out front” but added “no one has been ticketed and the 2 hour curb doesn’t get enforced”. I can vouch for her claim here as I haven’t seen a ticket issued for violating the 2-hour green zones on Hubbard in over five years.

A few things seem clear to me: Emeryville seems committed to filling every square foot of land with development and generally this comes with an increase in vehicles and a subsequent shortage of street parking. Many residents fled San Francisco to avoid its draconian parking measures and do not want to see our city embrace these same policies. The congestion on Hollis is beginning to resemble that of Christie & Shellmound and we residents do not want that. The current projections have our city jumping from its current 10,000 residents to 16,000 over the next 20 years. The city appears to be taking a proactive approach to the time-bomb that parking is headed toward … but is it enough? Many residents I’ve spoken with would be more inclined to drive less and use Emery-go-round more if it went to the West Oakland BART station which could shave 30 minutes from their daily commute. Something the EGR agency seems opposed to. What do you think?

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A map of where two hour green curb parking will be implemented in February

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About The Author

A Graphic Designer by trade, Rob is an East Bay native & 10 year Emeryville resident. He can often be seen walking his French Bulldog rescue "Fiona" around his Park Avenue District neighborhood or in the backyard Patio of Aquarius Cafe or Rudy's enjoying breakfast on a sunny weekend.

4 Responses to Parking Battle Brewing in E’ville

  1. Patrick Feehan says:

    I, as a business owner in the North Hollis area, support measures that would facilitate the turnover of parking spaces in our neighborhood. It is my opinion that the majority of spaces that are occupied by the same vehicle for days on end are likely owned by residents. Judging by the occupancy of the resident’s portion of the garage at the corner of 65th and Hollis, I think controls would force greater use of the existing spaces. I could be wrong about this but suspect I’m not. See you all around town!!

    Patrick Feehan, owner Cafe Aquarius Restaurant and Bakery 1298 65th Street Emeryville CA 94608 http://www.cafeaquarius.net

  2. Ken Bukowski says:

    Thanks for the story. I am not against parking controls I am against the City initiating parking controls the community is not asking for. The impact to people and businesses doesn’t seem to matter. The City ignored the first major recomendation to increase the use of off street parking. In this process we discovered, if a project is approved with required parking, unless the approval specifically says the parking must be used for the stated purpose. The project sponsor can do what they want with the parking. What is the point of having a parking requirement. I strongy believe it’s time to put the community in control instead of city government telling the community what is best. The City Manager both the present and past have been in control for a long time. Many of the City’s recent decision seem to forget the City needs to earn money.

    Making it more difficult for employees and others to park, is not a benefit, except for necessary timed parking zone. If it is more expensive for someone to drive to worik, they may go elsewhere. Using transit is not cheaper, and it takes twice as long, and it is not necessarily safe. Parkng fiines are not commensurate with the violations. Why is that OK? The poorest people are hit the hardest.

    If the goal is to stop pollution, forcing someone to move a car a short distance is the worst form of air pollution. the pollution from “cold starts” is worse than driving the whole way to a destination. Some residents at the meeting said, they leave their car in the street to use transit, and if they can;t park all day they would need to drive to work. The same people who advocate for us to stop driving want to see a family friendly city. I don’t know any families who want to take their kids on transit. The Auto Lobby in Washington DC makes sure there is no real alternative to driving. If the Federal Governent invested in street cars like it used to be, it could be much better. We had 40 people who attened the Jan 12 meeting complete feedback cards and the vast majority said they didn’t want parking controls the community did not ask for. The City hired a consultant to determine what the neighborhoods need. That is real disconnect… is that approach expected to work. The two hour zones will simplly cause people to walk a little longer. The police dept is understaffed and in recent months the number of auto break-ins have doubled

    When you serve on the council, if you know a majority of people in the community want to see something, I think you are supposed to respect that, unless it is a matter of civil rights or justice. Also, the folks who advocate for bike and transit use, seem capable of usiing those alternatives for those who don’t? There is a level of insensitivity I don’t understand. I don’t have a car, but I recognize many people who do really need it. thanks

    • RAW-B says:

      Thanks Ken for your comment. We have at least 2 small businesses here (Shed and Aquarius) that have come out in support of this. I’d like to hear the viewpoint of a small business that does not. Please refer them to this thread if you know of one. Also, I would have to disagree with you saying “transit is not cheaper” when Emery-go-round is free to all. I pay $11 to park in downtown Oakland while my Emery-go-Round and BART trip is $3.50 roundtrip and this is not factoring in gas. Parking in SF is easily double this amount. The time is comparable for me (certainly not twice, not sure where you got this stat). Emery-go-Round could definitely be better, but having free transit is a source of pride for the city. Have you been on Emery-go-round during peak commute? It’s packed! I’m not dismissing your opinions but I’d like to see some numbers to support your claims.

  3. Joe Kelly says:

    The 2-hour areas shown on the map seem like smart and eminently reasonable locations. It is good (and unusual) to see policy implementers thinking & acting this far ahead.

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