City Council Delays Decision on Citywide Parking Meter and Permit Plan
Emeryville city staff presented their latest Parking Management draft plan to the public at the July 24th Council meeting. The item’s presentation did not commence until after 9 p.m. and lasted nearly two hours. The final adoption of the contentious plan was ultimately delayed by Council.
The agenda item was slated for final adoption by our council after the previous draft was presented to the public at a June 19th Study Session. Changes to the proposed plan from this study session included increasing the number of residential parking permits allowed to three per household, adjusting the fee structure for residential permits and providing additional details on business permit fees and the process for applying for them.
The revised plan was presented by the City’s Community Economic Development Coordinator, Amber Evans. She emphasized that there would be exceptions and an appeals process for all permit applicants including those with special circumstances.
The above draft report implemented feedback from the June 19th Study Session.
Neighbors and Businesses Owners Weigh In
Over a dozen community members were in attendance or emailed council prior to provide their input. The majority of whom cited the lack of need for any parking management solution in their particular neighborhood or a more hands-off approach for their neighborhood’s particular parking situation.
One business owner on 67th street said he’d prefer that the City merely enforce existing parking laws, especially where parking is most in demand. “Once parking is enforced in those stressed areas, study the results of this enforcement,” said George Martin. “Until you actually enforce existing laws, you are just adding layers and layers upon layers of laws. Just keep it simple!”
During the latter part of the meeting, Mayor John Bauters clarified that enforcement wasn’t possible under existing financial constraints. “I heard a lot of people say, ‘Enforce the existing laws and enforce these things.’ People don’t understand that there is not funding to enforce those things,” said Bauters. “And so the whole point of the system is to generate a revenue neutral scheme that allows us to enforce,”
Residents also came out against many of the changes and cited an outsized impact on streets in front of their homes.
53rd street housemates Madelyn Covey, Jordan Pelot and Hava Glick-Landes delivered impassioned pleas to just leave things alone. They cited the lack of need for any parking management on their block.
“Go where these things are going to go up. And look at who actually parks there. Look at how many people are parking there. I don’t have any trouble parking on my block. It’s not congested, it’s fine, there’s nothing wrong,” said Covey. “I don’t know what there is to fix with all of this parking planning. And it’s going to make living in the Bay Area that much harder.”
Pelot noted that permits and meters didn’t really solve the parking problems while living in Berkeley, but that the City of Berkeley did ease the impact of the permit parking in other ways.
“…[In Berkeley] there were at least a few saving graces where there were four or five blocks away there would one block that was un-permitted and you could park there. In this plan, it doesn’t look like there’s a single street that wouldn’t be permitted or metered. If you have a friend staying over or have any other situation, they’re out of luck,” said Pelot.
Glick-Landes noted that meters, as proposed on her street, are not the right solution as there are no storefront businesses on her block. She also took exception to the process of obtaining the low-income/50% discounted permit noting it was lengthy and hardest on those who need the discounted permit the most.
Resident and BPAC member Tom Modic put forth an idea that resonated with some councilmembers that involved issuing residential parking permits as placards that could be swapped between vehicles within a multi-vehicle household. Modic rationalized that a family with two cars and one driveway spot could maintain some flexibility in choosing which car to put on the street.
During the later part of the meeting, Mayor Bauters and Councilman Scott Donahue pushed to have the placard idea investigated further.
Privacy advocates Chris Jasinski & Tracy Rosenberg with Media Alliance brought up concerns with the capturing of license plate data for enforcement purposes. They point to Senate Bill 34 from 2015, which requires a series of procedures the city must perform, including a public hearing, before moving forward with collection of this type of data.
Two residents made the most cogent points of the evening regarding the parking plan putting pressure on other areas around Emeryville and in adjacent Oakland neighborhoods. “When there’s a mixed-use street like 65th [street], the concern is that people will flee to the free parking area first before they go into the metered parking area,” said 65th street resident Melissa Ma.
Former Emeryville councilmember Ken Bukowski questioned what commercial and office developers were doing with their private parking garages. “We approved major developments and they have parking requirements. So, they couldn’t get approval if they didn’t put parking in the projects. But then they don’t use it for the project,” said Bukowski. “Like Wareham for example, theyt have parking available to the public. Whether they use it for the building or not, as it was approved, doesn’t matter. And that’s something the city needs to take a look at.”
Council Recommends Additional Changes
In response to the public comments, councilmembers spent time addressing the issues presented and brought up new ones. Marking up a map and using a laser pointer, they added, revised, and changed metered and permit parking areas throughout the city. Some of the various changes included the east side of Hollis Street between 59th and 62nd Street, which will now have short-term meters and both sides of Doyle Street. Streets eastward will now all be designated residential and business permit areas with 2-hour parking for visitors. In addition, the spaces under the Powell Street Overpass will have mid-term (four-hour) meters with the ability for businesses with permits to park there for an unlimited amount of time.
Councilwoman Medina and Mayor Bauters questioned why the city couldn’t enforce parking restrictions on streets without concrete curbs and sidewalks. When told by Evans and City Planning & Building Director, Charles Bryant, that some of those parking spaces cut across private and public right of way, Medina was concerned that the City could not figure out who the land belonged to and that they might be giving away valuable land for parking without this information.
Councilmembers had questions about the timing of project milestones going forward. According to Evans, the city received funding from two sources for this project. A non-competitively released pool of funds and a competitively awarded grant under the previously voter approved Measure BB. The latter was a grant under $1 million which the City must spend by July 30, 2019.
“Measure BB funds are under significant pressure to get funds out the door and show progress to taxpayers,” Evans said to the Council.
After answering clarifying questions about the plan from Evans, Council voted to delay its decision until after they reconvene from their August recess.. Both items are scheduled to be brought back to council at their September 17th meeting. This meeting will be held on a Monday instead of the typical Tuesday meeting time to avoid a conflict with the Jewish Holiday Yom Kippur.
The next steps for city staff are to revise the draft final plan to reflect the changes expressed by council. Further, Evans stated that she hopes to have more information and bids on possible technological solutions for payment and enforcement.