Do you guys remember all that noise about parking meters this summer and fall? Of course you do. How could you possibly forget. Aside from the fact we have a lot of crime here in Oakland, I can’t think of any issue since I’ve lived here that has received such relentless media coverage.
Anyway, as you likely recall, after two contentious meetings, the Council voted to reverse their June decision that extend the parking meter hours until 8 and to make up for the lost revenue through a combination of steps, including the addition of 250 parking meters Citywide (PDF).
So two weeks ago at the Council’s Finance & Management Committee meeting, staff offered a list of 400 possible locations for the new parking meters (PDF). The list included the following locations:
- Lakeshore to 22nd on International Boulevard: 160 metered spaces
- 38th to 54th on International Boulevard: 130 metered spaces
- 4th to 14th on East 12th Street: 70 metered spaces
- 15th to 20th on Telegraph Avenue: 40 metered spaces
Now, almost all of those meter locations are in Council districts 5 and 2. Normal people tend not to think about things in those terms, but elected officials certainly do. So, as you can imagine, District 5 Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente and District 2 Councilmember Pat Kernighan were, um, none too pleased with the list.
The Committee said that Council’s original direction had been for the new meters to be evenly distributed throughout all seven Council districts, and that staff should go back and do it that way. Staff then decided that the best way to handle that was to ask each Councilmember to make a list of where they think 60 parking meters should go in their district. I don’t think I need to bother explaining why this is an staggeringly misguided way to approach parking policy.
If it isn’t obvious to you why this is a bad idea and you happen to be free this evening, allow me to suggest an event that you will likely find enlightening. High Cost of Free Parking author Donald Shoup will be speaking tonight in Lafayette. I’m out of town so I can’t go, but reports from people who trekked down to San Jose last night for the show have been uniformly laudatory.
The event will be held at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center Community Hall
from 6 to 9 PM at 7 PM (see Dan’s comments below) at 3491 Mt. Diablo Blvd in Lafayette (map here). And no, you don’t have to drive there! It’s less than a half mile walk from the Lafayette BART station.
Mark your calendars!! On Thursday evening, February 25th, the cities of Lafayette and Walnut Creek will co-host a presentation on “Parking Policies in the Downtown” at the Lafayette Library and Learning Center. The speaker, Donald Shoup, is a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles and has served as the Director of the Institute of Transportation Studies and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA. He has extensively studied parking as a key link between transportation and land use, with important consequences for cities, the economy, and the environment. His influential book, The High Cost of Free Parking, is leading a growing number of cities to charge fair market prices for curb parking, dedicate the resulting revenue to finance public services in the metered districts, and reduce or remove off-street parking requirements.
I really wish I could go to this, and I hope some of you will and report back to us. Shoup’s work gets referenced pretty frequently in policy discussions when parking comes up in Oakland, but the nuances of his research and suggestions are, frankly, very rarely stated accurately. I get that it’s a long book, and an expensive one, but I still wish more people would take the time to sit down and read it. Attending the presentation is certainly going to be a substantially faster way to learn.