City’s Draft Parking Management Plan Stirs Debate Among Emeryville & North Oakland Neighbors, Businesses
The City of Emeryville recently posted additional details on its proposed Parking Management Plan. The draft plan would introduce parking permits and meters throughout the city to encourage better use of transit, parking turnover and manage existing parking inventory for residents and businesses. The draft plan has, as expected, initiated some spirited conversations among community members.
The draft plan presented on April 18th by City Staff and consultants implemented feedback from two community workshops held last November. An estimated one hundred community members attended the two public workshops to listen to the Draft Recommendations Report and provide additional feedback on them. The city has also received over 90 comments through email.
The proposed changes in each area take on a different combination of meter and permit types. They vary from short-term (2 hour), mid-term (4 hour), and all-day meters, to residential and business permits. The precise combination will be guided by analysis of the parking behavior of residents and businesses in each neighborhood. The plan would apply to most of the city with an exception of the South Bayfront/Bay Street area.
The Hollis Corridor would be the only area to utilize all meter and permit types. The North Hollis/Doyle neighborhood would primarily see 2-hour time limits with unlimited permit parking. The Park Avenue District would see mid-term metered spaces. The Peninsula would see mid-term meters only, with long-term meters restricted to the marina. The North Bayfront area would see all meter types. The Triangle neighborhood could move to a permit only parking scheme, which would be studied only if needed after the initial plan is implemented.
The plan’s consultants made recommendations on meter pricing as well. Short term meters were suggested to have pricing of $2 an hour. Mid-term and all-day meters has a suggested pricing of $1 and $0.50 an hour, respectively. With the exception of all-day meters, the hourly pricing on other meters would jump significantly after two or four hours to encourage space turnover.
Meters are proposed to run Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The city says that they closely compared permit pricing and hours of operations with that of Oakland and Berkeley’s parking programs.
Residents and businesses who wish to park for an extended amount of time on the street within a permitted parking area would need to purchase a parking permit.
Residential households would be allowed two permits, with the first permit costing $100 and the second permit costing $300. Residents would also be allowed to purchase a “visitor” permit for $5 a day.
Businesses would be allowed to apply for a business parking permit, with the total number of permits handed out citywide capped at 200 per year. Each permit would cost $200.
Meters and permit areas would be patrolled by parking enforcement officers, funded through the revenue generated from parking revenue. Amber Evans, Economic Development Coordinator for the City of Emeryville, noted that the parking plan is meant to be revenue-neutral, meaning the City would not be looking to profit off of the program.
Consultants and the City are also looking at the possibility of creating a commute-hour bus corridor on Hollis. Although it is still under study, the general idea would be to create a special ‘bus-only’ lane on one or both sides of the street to allow for Emery Go-Round, AC Transit and other transit buses to move through the corridor faster.
By implementing the plan, the City hope that they myriad of parking control methods would give them the flexibility to tailor the parking program to the unique needs of each neighborhood, as parking has become scarcer. They point to the on-street parking space occupancy data that compared how full spaces were in 2010 versus 2017. At 10am, they found 3% to 16% more cars parked in every neighborhood except for Central Emeryville.
The initial Capital investment to implement the program would be provided by a grant. The program would ultimately need to create enough revenue to pay for enforcement to be sustainable.
Concerns by Residents
At the 4/18 workshops, residents from various neighborhoods were in attendance. Many concerns were raised, including the price of permits compared to neighboring cities. Proposed permit pricing was higher relative to neighboring cities including Berkeley (slated to increase to $66 on 7/1), Oakland ($82), and SF ($128). The city is considering implementing lower permit rates for lower-income households and other vulnerable populations.
“This is a regressive tax that is more of a burden on low-income people than it is on people with high incomes,” noted an Emeryville resident on Nextdoor that seemed to echo concerns by fixed-income seniors. “The $28/day meters proposed for Powell Street at Watergate are even more excessive for those of us on low or fixed incomes.”
Neighbors also challenged the choice of parking control methods on specific blocks, and questioned how meter pricing was determined. At least one resident questioned the quality of the parking survey occupancy data obtained that factored into to the plan recommendations.
Other residents expressed criticism of city policies lowering parking requirements to developers in an attempt to “socially engineer” people out of their cars through pricing and frustration.
Concern by Bordering North Oakland Residents
Also in attendance at the 4/18 workshop was a staff member from the City of Oakland as well as some residents of our neighboring city.
A nextdoor.com thread posted by a North Oakland resident has stoked the debate. “Emeryville residents and those who drive in for work who don’t want to or can’t afford the $100-$300 permits (and $5 per day visitor pass) will simply park on Oakland streets for FREE,” noted Golden Gate neighborhood resident Louise Rafkin.
Residents of Vallejo Street (shown in the feature image of this post) and others that border the two cities noted the pressure it could create on their side of the street if only one side required permits.
Some Oakland residents were supportive of the plan and encouraged their city to get on board with their own plan. Oakland residents have similar issues with parking turnover and non-operable/abandoned vehicles on their streets that are not enforced because of prioritization by their police department.
The City of Emeryville has since determined that might have authority to control beyond the curb on the Oakland side of Vallejo and may be able to grant permits to residents of both sides of the street. The City also plans to provide ‘occupancy data’ to the City of Oakland once the plan is implemented to help guide their own plan.
At Wednesday’s Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) meeting, several businesses were on hand to listen to the latest draft plan and express their concerns. Parking Management was among the highest priorities vetted in last year’s Small Business Joint Study Session and this was implemented into the city’s Economic Development Strategy.
Small businesses have long been pleading for enforcement of short-term zones to encourage turnover for their customers as well as managing use of parking by construction crews. The EPD says it does not currently prioritize parking enforcement because of budget constrains and higher priorities. In fact, the city’s lone parking enforcement agent is slated to be laid off at the end of this fiscal year.
Those on hand expressed concern over the cost to their employees and the additional burden on small businesses of managing the permits if they were tied to a license plate reader which is a technology being considered.
Both Evans and the consultants emphasized that they are still open to input from the public on all aspects of the plan. The next steps for the City is to review the plan at various advisory committee meetings and Tonight’s 6:30 p.m. Special Planning Commission Meeting.
Staff will then present options based on community and committee feedback to our council to review and vote on at a Special Study Session scheduled for June 19th. Staff will then bring a Plan reflecting this direction for Council approval of the Final Plan, expected on July 17.
The city will then draft an ordinance pertaining to both pricing and permitting of parking, issue Request for Proposals (RFPs) and select vendors for parking technologies and adopt a Residential Parking Permit (RPP) Policy. Phase I in North Hollis of the plan including installation and testing could take place as soon as the start of new year.
Draft plan and associated documents can be viewed at emeryvilleparkingmanagement.com.
Comments can be emailed to Amber Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org