One more time. Parking meter changes were not adopted without notice or discussion.

I’m sure everyone has been itching for me to talk about parking, and I’ve been meaning to since last week’s Council meeting, but I’ve been having kind of a hard time of it, partly because I’ve been busy, but mostly because…well, do you ever find yourself with so much to say about something that you just get completely overwhelmed every time you try to figure out how to say it? It’s a function of being out of practice, I guess.

Anyway, I’m always advising others that the best way to deal with that sort of problem is to break the pieces out into reasonable chunks, so that’s what I’m going to try to do. I’ll talk about the Council’s parking discussion from their September 22nd meeting in one post, and the proposals from staff and the Council about how to make up the money from the rollback in another. (Here’s the quick version. The Councilmembers pushing for the rollback at the last meeting said repeatedly that they wanted to find any money that would be used to backfill the lost revenue from something else having to do with parking. Staff’s suggestions for how to do so are basically all things they had already proposed during budget discussions (PDF) that the Council already rejected, and four Councilmembers have submitted their own proposal (PDF) in which the bulk of the money comes not from parking, but from adding new billboards.)

But first, I am going to take another go at something I have been harping on for months, which is this ridiculous, and bizarelly widespread idea that the Council secretely extended the parking meter hours until 8 PM without ever telling anyone they were thinking about doing so. This is simply not true.

As I have pointed out repeatedly, the various changes to parking policy were discussed at length both in Committee and at Council. Councilmember Jean Quan included the idea in her June 13th, June 20th, and June 27th newsletters. Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente sent out a message to his e-mail list about the proposal on June 15th. Extending parking meter hours was one of the options on the online Oakland Budget Challenge.

At-large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan asked that extending meter hours (until 10 PM) be added to the list of items to consider in budget discussions at the Council’s very first special budget discussion on May 13th (PDF). Meter hour extensions were discussed at every single subsequent special budget meeting. Hundreds of people watched these meetings. Each one had hours of public comment. So many people were apparently watching the meetings on KTOP’s feed, that on more than one occassion, people trying to sign on to view the streaming video recieved a message that the feed could not support any more viewers and they would have to wait until someone else stopped watching to get on.

So why didn’t any of those people protest the parking changes? Well, since they all turned out to ask for services to be preseved (many of which the Council ended up cutting anyway), they clearly thought that City services were more important than free on-street parking.

But what about all those business owners who weren’t at the meetings advocating for City services, and who don’t subscribe to Councilmember newsletters? Maybe they didn’t protest because they had no way of knowing?

Nope. The Chamber of Commerce did their damndest to rile people up about the parking changes, and sent out two hysterical e-mail alerts about the proposed changes previous to the budget’s adoption. From the first one, dated June 18th:

As we all know, Oakland faces a massive budget deficit & the Council is looking for any excuse to increase revenue. Among the many options being considered is DOUBLING the hourly parking meter rates to $3! A compromise alternative raises them to “only” $2/hour.

City staff is also recommending drastic increases in parking violation fines – most over 125%.

The Chamber encourages you to contact your Councilmember to share your opinions about how these increases might affect your customers, business, & neighborhood commercial activity. Also, be sure to contact Councilmember At Large Rebecca Kaplan who is a proponent of the $3/hour rate.

The next hearing on this is June 30 when the Council will pass a budget. Don’t delay, contact Councilmembers today!

Both the claims about what the Council was considering were, of course, untrue. Still, one imagines that most recipients of the e-mail weren’t aware of that. A follow-up e-mail was no less hysterical, but at least managed to correct some of the blatant factual errors.

Still, somehow, despite the attempts to generate outrage previous to the Council’s adoption of the changes, none was forthcoming. The only person who could get worked up about the idea of 8 PM meters enough to come to Council and bitch them about it was Grand Lake Theater owner and longtime free parking advocate Allen Michaan.

The bottom line here is that whether or not the meter hours should be rolled back (I don’t think they should, but they’re going to be), it is simply not true that they were adopted without public notice, public discussion, or opportunity for public response. Many, many people had many, many opportunities for input, and choose not to complain.

The reason the Council adopted the, in retrospect, clearly unpopular longer meter hours was not because they don’t care what people think, but because even after much more public notice and discussion than most decisions they make receive, they had no reason to expect people would react the way they have. Why would they? After all, the widespread outrage and ridiculous threats to recall the City Council are not a rational response to running parking meters for into the evening, a practice commonplace in cities throughout the Country. Not just really big cities like New York and Los Angeles and DC. Cities like Milwaukee, Denver, Santa Monica, Portland, Seattle, and even Bethesda, Maryland run their meters after 6. Not to mention our next door neighbor, Emeryville, where meters run 24/7.

Clearly, the Council has to do something about the damn parking meters at this point or the issue will just keep coming back and they’re never going to be able to get anything else done. But it didn’t have to be like this. Annoyances that would normally subside after a few weeks have been blown ridiculously out of proportion by a controversy starved local media looking to make trouble, quick to repeat outright lies told to them by a blowhard with a billboard, and eager to keep adding fuel to the fire every time people get close to forgetting. And in all the furor over parking, all those people who came to meeting after meeting to beg for this service or that service not to be cut and got it slashed anyway appear to have been completely forgotten. Which, for me, is the most depressing part of the whole thing.

If people want the meter hours rolled back, fine. Go ahead and say so. But just because you don’t like a decision doesn’t make it okay to lie about how it came about in the first place.

106 thoughts on “One more time. Parking meter changes were not adopted without notice or discussion.

  1. bennett

    The City claims that the redaction will cost $1.3M, therefore my first point Is whether the $1.3M is a real metric?

    Given the near 100% merchant negative reaction, and claims that it is hurting their sales ( and reducing sales tax etc), I figure they cannot all be inventing this story about the impact on their business just to garner sympathy.

    my questions on this therefore are:
    • Are their any actuals yet? this would really help in order to learn more!
    • Was this number calculated accordingly to GAAP, including appropriate offsets,costs of operation, etc., or is it an educated guess?
    • Has anyone seen proof and/or analyzed the projection numbers?
    • Is this $1.3M revenue a true “net gain”, (from the late meters only) as they stated?
    • How is this [revenue gain] calculated – under what metrics and projections?
    • Does this [the 1.3M] factor in all related costs and expenses: eg salaries of collectors, collection costs, complaints and redress processes that are required by law
    • What has been the cost to the City of lost productivity to field all the phone calls and complaints on this topic?
    • Redacting this would mean laying off the meter maids and their support operation – RIGHT? Is that factored in? Or would they get large severance packages?


    • people are going out less – ergo – meter yield/revenue will be less than projected
    • citizens are more diligent – therefore the “gotcha” tickets may be less than projected as well
    • We know many people who have taken to eating at home rather than going out – or skipping the trip to the gym. Helps Safeway and whole foods, but hurts restaurants.

    I would sure like to know more stats on this. Just trying to be practical here and see what the numbers really are….

  2. policywank

    I can’t claim to know 1/5th of what you know about Oakland politics. You get serious props from me. But I don’t think the threats to recall the council, etc are a response to parking meters running into the evening. They are a response both to the effect of that on business in an already terrible economy and the somewhat haughty or petulant way in which the council members responded to genuine public outcry. I think it is a perfectly rational response in a democracy to say you’ve made a decision that we believe is opposed by a significant part of the community, perhaps a majority of it. You can reverse that decision or be thrown out of office. That is quite rational to me.

  3. Patrick

    I couldn’t disagree more. It is not haughty or petulant to express surprise at the reaction of the citizens and business leaders of Oakland, when those same groups said nary a word in the months preceding the parking meter change. Reverse the decision or be thrown out of office? That’s COMPLETELY irrational. The City Council is doing their job – plugging a hole in our budget deficit by using one of the very few tools they have to raise revenue. Rather than teabag on this thread, why not offer a solution? If you don’t agree with the parking meter hikes, fine. But you either need to come up with a viable funding alternative or suggest cuts – we have enough hysteria already. Oh, and don’t be surprised by our “rational” response if you suggest things we don’t like.

  4. policywank

    Patrick, whether you want to call me a Bakuninite, a Trot, or a democratic socialist, I’m probably way the hell to the left of you. Save the teabagger ad hominems for someone that you know something about. I don’t happen to believe that citizens are the subjects of their elected representatives. They’re there to do our business, not to rule us. I have no problem with them being surprised. I have a big problem with how they reacted once they’d had time to digest the surprise. Winning an election entitles you to nothing more than a chance to govern as the people wish to be governed.

  5. bennett

    all I would like to see is proof that they have not created this 1.3M number out of ether.

    How much do they net out for 6-8:00p.m.? How much has the rate increase to $2/hour yielded viewed as year over year revenue?

    further, it is key to GAAP analysis that they also include an adjustment for lost sales tax revenue, payroll taxes, reduced employment, and any other ancillary cost as a result of people choosing to do business elsewhere. With that factored in, you can then understand the real benefit to the City ( or cost) related to this program change.

    Assuming a reasonable accounting system exists at the DPT,
    they should by now be able to now provide numbers for August and perhaps September.

    “show me the money” please.

  6. dto510

    I do find the reaction of some people to parking meter changes surprising. I wouldn’t think that Oaklanders would feel very entitled to free parking, and let’s face it, many big cities have meters running after 8pm, and urbanites are well-acquainted with paying for parking. It’s probably no coincidence that the Grand Lake neighborhood, which has more city-provided free parking than any other commercial district, is where people are most upset.

    We’re going to have to give up suburban-style parking policies (/ lack of policies) sooner or later, because they’re not just costly but also get in the way of other transportation priorities, like encouraging employers to help their workers take transit, or ensuring there’s street parking available to shoppers and diners. It is pretty surprising that the Metro Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with the Green Party next week to advocate for free parking, which is neither pro-business nor green.

  7. Robert

    bennett, at the last council meeting staff indicated that they could get actuals together in about a week from teh new meters. It will be interesting to see if they did, since there was not an explicit directive from council to do so. If they have, it will be possibel to see if revenue is tracking to the $1.3M, or if rolling back the meters will cause less revenue loss that needs to be made up.

    I don’t think that the reaction to the parking changes should be all that suprising, either to council or to readers of this blog. With the exception of readers of this blog, most Oakland residents pay no attention to what the city council is dong, trusting their council members to be acting in the consituants intests. So when council enacts a tax increase (called a fee in this case) that those constituants don’t feel was in their interests, they do get worked up. Not suprising at all.

    As to whether the rate hike is a good thing or not, it all depends on Oakland’s non-existant parking management policy.

  8. Max Allstadt


    There is a simple simple reason that you and V are having trouble empathizing with the uproar: Neither of you drive!

    I think they overreacted. But I GET why they overreacted.

  9. Chuck

    @bennett “Given the near 100% merchant negative reaction, and claims that it is hurting their sales ( and reducing sales tax etc), I figure they cannot all be inventing this story about the impact on their business just to garner sympathy.”

    I understand you’re making a point about not pulling numbers out of the ether, so let me just run with that point for a second.

    First, (and this *is* critical of you) I don’t think it’s 100% negative reaction from merchants. Rockridge, for example, has a bunch of signs up about the new rules and what you need to do in order to play by them. Yes, some are protesting somewhat, but largely things seem to be going well. My evidence is just as anecdotal as yours, but you’re pulling a number out of the ether. Maybe it’s better to say “All or almost all the merchants I hear speaking out about the new ordinance are speaking negatively.” Which wouldn’t come as a surprise as historically people are much more prone to bitching & moaning about something they find mildly distasteful, rather than speak out in favor of something they find mildly distasteful but necessary.

    Second (and this is NOT directed at you), I think we ought to hold the merchants to the don’t-pull-things-out-of-the-ether test as well. Nobody, and I mean *nobody*, complaining about the new rates has a single shred of actual empirical evidence demonstrating the causativity of the new rates impacting their business, pro or con. Instead, we have a really crappy economy, the downturn of which was rather coincidental with the implementation of the new rates. No businessperson or layperson claims to have separated the causation of downturn in business from the new rates vs. the poor economic climate. One might say it’s common sense, of course, that they’re all related. But one ought to also recognize that one, in particular, is being held up in local discourse as the whipping boy and the problem child. There’s a convenient and unpopular scapegoat onto which to cast the problems of doing business right now, and people are far too apt to jump on that bandwagon rather than realize $0.50 / hour is not doing a damn thing to their business on any appreciable scale.

  10. len raphael

    hard to trust any stats the Parking Dept delivers quickly when the Dept seems to have > 1 month delays matching payments with tickets. (wasn’t that point brought up at the council meeting ?) A delay of at least that long is consistent with the notices i’m getting from the DPT which ignore the letter i wrote them on day 1 of my ticket at a broken meter.

    to criticize the merchants reaction as irrational misses the point that many small and large retailers are scared shitless of the distinct possibilty they will not survive another year or two of a jobless home-equity_less recovery. they don’t want to be the guinea pigs in a eco parking management study which probably would help them in the long run but might give their business’s that little shove over the abyss in the short run.

    explain to merchants and residents that the money is needed to provide vital services. waste of breathe because most people only expect police, schools, roads, and library services. they assume (incorrectly) that those services couldn’t get any worse.

    either lay off more city employees or cut funding to more ngo’s. rollback meter rates and fines and hours to match berkeley.

    in a couple of years, start implementing citywide variable pricing for more streets that ranges from free to very expensive. dedicate the funds for something like subsidizing public transportation in Oakland and fixing sidewalks, making safe bike lanes

    -len raphael

  11. Patrick

    I don’t think one has to drive to “get” why people are angry. Nobody wants to spend more money than they have to. Americans have come to expect free and/or convenient parking as their God-given right. This is especially true in the suburbs, where seemingly endless amounts of relatively cheap land made expansive parking lots possible. Suburbs like Alameda, where Michaan lives. Suburbs like Alameda which enjoy all the convenience of nearby freeways in Oakland, but without the noise, pollution and divisiveness they cause. Oakland bears all of these costs and related financial and social costs – they must be paid for somehow.

    Oakland is not a suburb. It is a densely populated urban area. And, the physical space parking spots occupy belong to ALL Oaklanders, not just those who frequent the shopping areas the most. Oakland needs revenue – any other ideas on how to cover our shortfall? Bake sale? Bakuninite strip club?

    There is no proof that business revenues are falling due to parking policy. Could it possibly be due to the fact the economy has fallen off a cliff? Suggesting that parking policy alone has led to falling revenues during a period of time when the unemployment rate has doubled is hardly a defensible argument. Yes, yes…it is possible that costlier parking may exacerbate the problem. But honestly, if you can afford to shop, eat or see a movie around Grand Lake, 2 to 4 bucks, a couple of times a month, isn’t going to break you.

    Until the State of California fixes their ridiculous budget mess, local governments are ham-stringed. I’m sorry but, Mr. Michaan? I won’t give up my local rec center, park or police officer so that you can peddle another box of overpriced popcorn. This is about the financial health, social well-being and quality of life in Oakland. Not business owners weaving fairy tales.

    And to respond to len, yes. Our city is overrun by overpaid, unproductive employees (and it starts at the fuzzy top). If their job title begins with “Admin-” and they never see the light of day between 9 to 5, there is a good chance we’d never miss them.

  12. livegreen

    Len, The recent uproar over the increase in parking fees by $0.50 doesn’t show “most people only expect police, schools, roads, and library services.”

    It shows they care about $0.50.

  13. policywank

    The claim is that ” This is about the financial health, social well-being and quality of life in Oakland. Not business owners weaving fairy tales.”, but the apparent attitude is that those with power and their supporters don’t feel that the proles ought to have a say once they’ve issued their grand decrees.

    You know what? The people in Oakland don’t have to prove a damn thing about revenue, about the loss of business, etc. If they don’t like what the council does, they have both the legal and moral right to toss that council out on their collective ass.

  14. Robert

    I went out to dinner on Lakeshore tonight. On a Friday night, there were empty parking spaces (quite a few) between 6 and 8 PM, and then they rapidly filled up after 8 PM. This is not, from my experience, or for the owner’s or staff’s experience, the typical pattern. To argue that the increase in parking fees has not had any impact on behavior is absurd.

    In most cities, when local business is hurting, they look for ways to help business. In Oakland, they looked for a way to make things more difficult.

  15. livegreen


    Based on the kind of candidates Oakland often has running in opposition Oakland voters won’t change a damn thing. Even when they do have a decent alternative (Sean Sullivan has been mentioned here before, I don’t know personally) they still haven’t thrown anybody out.

    And if they do that based on important issues that affect our quality of life and those of our families (like crime, the economy, structurally unsound costs of city government), then I’m all for it.

    But parking meter costs? When there’s free parking nearby? When Rockridge merchants were asking the City Counsel for some of these same changes?

    Give me a break.

  16. len raphael

    for future policy making, it is important to know how shoppers reacted to the vehicle use price increases. if retail sales increased during the period of increased fees, that would be meaningful. if retail sales dropped, insufficient data.

    it is irrational for shoppers to avoid buying stuff around here for a measily four bits, (the fine and agressive enforcement, that’s rational avoidance) but all sorts of consumer behavior is irrational, emotional.

  17. Patrick

    @policywank: “You know what? The people in Oakland don’t have to prove a damn thing about revenue, about the loss of business, etc. If they don’t like what the council does, they have both the legal and moral right to toss that council out on their collective ass.”

    So, you approve of fiscal irresponsibility regardless of outcome? Yes, let’s just demand that our elected officials provide us with everything we want – but taxes and fees are out of the question. Stop pretending you’re on the moral high-ground which absolves you of paying for what you take and use. That’s not a “legal and moral right”. That’s a subsidy. Otherwise known as “sucking off the public teet”. You really think you’re “far left”? HA! Suggesting that relatively wealthy car owners should be catered to at the expense of vital social services is laughable at best, but frankly pathetic.

    What you’re espousing is why Ronald Reagan got elected Governer of California. The desire for fiscal irresponsibility is why Gray Davis got recalled. Why is California on the verge of bankruptcy? Because like every other entity that has had to declare bankruptcy, it has overspent, under-collected and not provided for the future.

    Wake up, policytool. Eventually, someone has to pay the bills. Surprise! It looks like that someone is us.

    BTW, do you live in Oakland? Or do you live in Walnut Creek?

  18. policywank

    More ad hominem attacks and straw men. You keep putting words in other people’s mouths while scribbling an ever shifting set of justifications for blindly supporting the powerful few with positions in government over their supposed constituents. You offer nothing of substance.

  19. livegreen

    Patrick vs. policywank
    powerful constituent electorate vs. powerful incumbent politicians.

    Now that’s a recipe for change…

  20. oakie

    i’m tickled to see our very new city council person suggesting the extension of parking hours until 10pm. Does she think that will fill up those empty AC Transit buses? Hardly.

    Why didn’t she suggest taking away Mayor Sleepy’s limousine and driver and give him a bus transit pass instead (which would be very cheap since he’s of “a certain age”). Or eliminate free parking for city employees and officials, or reduce the size of the city’s car fleet to what is absolutely necessary.

    IF she’s so pro public transit, why isn’t she forcing those who work for the city do their fair share instead of TRYING to dump on the customers of city businesses (which they are apparently unwilling to do, in any case). Que sera sera.

    How about enforcing the city ordinances already on the books and unenforced? Like litter, or the sound ordinance. Bump up those fines to the maximum allowable. Why aren’t they trying out those ideas? Hm.

  21. Max Allstadt


    Nobody’s recalling anybody. Oakland’s election laws have a very high signature threshold for a recall.

    Plus, if Michaan tries to initiate a real recall, the fact that he doesn’t live in Oakland, can’t vote in Oakland, and can neither file nor place a valid signature upon a recall petition… that might get some press coverage. The fact that he violated campaign contribution limits in the last election in district 2 might also get some attention.

    On top of that, how the hell does anybody expect to win a recall election when it’s been ages since a full-term incumbent got defeated in a scheduled election?

    The parking protesters have much more anger than sense. I expect they’ll get a modest compromise, and then declare victory. Their insane ballot measure for a meter free city is an unfunded mandate more expensive and more dangerous than measure OO. If they can get enough signatures to place it on the ballot, it will still go down in flames.

  22. policywank

    Max, you’re probably dead on in your assessment of what _will_ happen. It’s the vitriol against the very notion of a recall by some people on this thread that has bothered me. You’re right that not only in Oakland, but that in all elections in this country, incumbents are almost always returned. Recall initiatives also almost always fail. Yet with the meager chances of success, the “How dare they?!” reactions of the defenders of power here one would think that it’s a surefire way of stealing the rightfully won election from any dedicated public servant.

  23. Max Allstadt

    I have contempt for the proposed recall too. It would waste a lot of money, time and effort. And to do it over parking tickets is incredibly petty. If you want to recall a councilmember, do it because they’re incompetent or corrupt.

    We also have at least one Peralta Community College Board member who should be sacked for corruption, and a school board member who’s still in his seat after admitting he dated a seventeen year old student. And yet, the outrage that gets all the attention is about parking tickets?

  24. Ralph

    I wish I had time to read all of the above responses. Not only was the public response unexpected, it was irrational. Granted, the rates were not raised in response to good transportation policy, but I honestly would have thought the people of Oakland would have recognized the change as a step in the right direction. Heck, last May and June when Kaplan and Brooks were discussing longer hours and demand pricing, I nearly creamed in my pants. It came to nothing as the proposal on the table wasn’t fleshed out but I liked the way they were thinking. And yes I drive.

    Call me crazy, I live within 2 miles of College Ave, Piedmont, Uptown, and Grand / Lake and from what I see people have no problem paying $2/hr after 6. That is not to say businesses aren’t closing. But i would argue some of those businesses would have closed anyway as they were on the margin serving populations that were adversely affected by the recession.

    Can someone point me to the study which separates the impact of the recession versus the increase in parking rates on consumer spending? Thanks.

  25. Ralph

    Aside, I wonder if Mr. Michaan could have been contained if the city had started with a less aggressive enforcement policy. He, or at least someone using his name, has posted elsewhere that he really isn’t bothered by the $2 or 8pm; it is the aggressive enforcement after years of lax enforcement that gets his goat.

  26. jarichmond

    I’m another person who drives in Oakland and thinks this uproar about parking is silly. If people are really staying away from Lakeshore because of the meters, even though there’s a big -free- garage serving Lakeshore’s shops, then I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done to help them. Maybe instead of the businesses whining about the changes, they’d be better off telling people the alternatives.

    Also, anecdotally, I live off Piedmont and commute down either College or Telegraph on the bus every day, and I’ve been trying to pay attention to the parking situation when I’m coming home after 6. At least in the core of Rockridge, say from about Claremont down to around Manilla, I very rarely see more than one or two spaces free. Sure, there’s usually spaces free up by Safeway or by Broadway, but that was true before the meter changes, too. I also rarely see spots available on Piedmont, except at the very edges of the commercial district.

    I’m not going to claim that business owners are lying that business is down these days; honestly, I’d be shocked if the majority of our businesses weren’t down considering the broader economy. I will complain that I don’t think they’ve done anything to show that the parking rules are the cause of their struggles, rather than the fact that we’re in the midst of a severe recession.

    As for the claim that poor people are being disadvantaged by the parking prices, are you going to start claiming that high gas prices are also keeping the poor down? If you really care so much about helping the poor have access to commercial districts, why not propose giving more money to AC transit so we don’t have to get hit with the big fare increases and service cuts?

  27. Barry K.

    Meter Change= Travel Tax

    Increases in revenue thru parking enforcement will help cover the travel expenses of our Council Members, and, Municipal employees.
    Council Member Quan had another Council approved trip two weeks ago.

    Since the Alameda Grand Jury report slammed Oakland officials on travel and credit card abuse last FY, some of our Council members responded to the report by taking twice as many trips in the current FY. (see pgs 16-32) (see pgs 16-33)


    In this newsletter Quan asserts, “The Finance & Management Committee received its first report [on travel expenses] after making drastic budget cuts and new regulations that I authored last year.”

    But the parsimony does not apply to councilmember Quan herself. On the council agenda for Oct. 6:

    Resolution authorizing Council Member Jean Quan to travel to New York On October 7-9, 2009 to attend the Harlem Children’s Zone Practitioner’ s Institute as a board member of Safe Passages, with the City paying “all expenses incurred for said travel.”

  28. DontBotherDelores

    Jean Quan gets to go to Harlem and we get to pay? My mother fled Harlem, I ended up here and I’m paying for that too!

  29. livegreen

    Barry K., couldn’t there have been cuts on City travel expenses, even when some people were still taking trips?

    And just taking the trip does not mean it was a waste of money. What if she learned something for implementing MYOC programs in a highly effective way?

    Finally, there’s no direct connection between the Parking Meter rates and city Travel Expenditures. Instead there’s an indirect link as they go in and come out of the same pot called the City Budget.

    You’re mixing up all kinds of apples with all kinds of oranges.

  30. Barry K.

    DontBotherDelores- Sorry to bother you, but, the conference is in New York City; tucked safely away in the Sheraton Towers. Nice.

    Grand Jury Slams Oakland for Travel Expenses, July 13, 2009
    The grand jury said much of the travel involves attending out-of-state conferences “with the primary purpose of social networking” that return little, if any benefit, to the city of Oakland, which faces a $100 million deficit for the current fiscal year.

    KCBS did report on the travel abuses one year ago.
    http://www.kcbs. com/pages/ 3022890.php

    Jean Quan: “I’ll defend my travel because I think Oakland helps change the politics of the state,” she said.

  31. 94610BizMan

    I assume you meant this in jest:
    “if she learned something for implementing MYOC programs in a highly effective way?”

    Have you every seen JQ in action

  32. Ralph

    len, you have the million dollar question. even if JQ comes back with great ideas for SP where is she going to get the money to fund them?

    the trip by itself is not a huge expense but if don’t have the funds to implement what you have learned what is the point?

  33. Ralph

    City Travel – wow. I read pgs 16- 33 of the 08-09 report. I am shocked and disgusted with the lack of oversight on travel expenses. I am also amazed at how out of touch the city is with the private sector. For the record, the private sector (at least where I have worked) has strict requirements. Why? I think it has something to do with the potential for abuse.

    Heck, in one of my first jobs, I was doing a routine analysis of expenses and noticed the T&E was a little high. Turns out the GM was authorizing a consultant’s town car expenses, which we don’t allow. Not only did we kill the contract with the consultant, the GM was forced to look elsewhere for work.

    At other employers, the firm has sent one person to a class to evaluate before sending the whole team. But we also found it easier to train the trainer or have the class come to us.

    I don’t know what private sector business the city uses to justify the travel abuses, but I find it hard to believe that it is one accountable to shareholders. The city is a business and needs to operate as such and remember there are 400K shareholders.

  34. MarleenLee

    Clearly, some people are upset about the meter changes because it impacts their businesses. Others because it affects their wallets. I personally am not really impacted either way. The extra dollar or two for parking isn’t what riles me up. I love the fact that this issue is getting so much attention. Regular, law abiding folks are making their voices heard. And they’re not smashing any windows or lighting cop cars on fire.

    The publicity shines a light on how totally short sighted our politicians can be – fix a relatively small budget hole, and outrage the citizenry and help drive businesses and customers out of Oakland. Way to go, Council.

    Not to mention the fact that using parking meter fees and fines to close holes in the general budget is illegal, which I’ve mentioned before. Methods for raising revenue for the City as a whole is called a “tax” and may not be imposed just by calling it a fee. The City is lucky it hasn’t gotten sued yet over this issue.

    Also highlighted is how pathetic our City government is at managing its finances. How does a city get $85 million in debt anyway, when it doesn’t even provide basic services, like a decent size police force? That’s just outrageous. We’ve got some incredibly high priced real estate here. We’ve got an airport; a port and other great resources. We have a lot of tax revenue and potential tax revenue. But where does our money go? It gets thrown away; wasted. Overpaid employees ($70,000 for a meter repairman, remember?) are probably the biggest culprits. And look at the Grand Jury report cited by Barry K. A private limo driver and a $170,000 salary for a mayor who does nothing. Our City Council members get a budget for a full “staff” and a lot of them have part time jobs doing something else. How does that make sense? And what about that Bobb report with all those recommendations for changes? Never followed up on. Why the hell should we pay for all that waste and abuse with extra quarters out of our pockets?

  35. Ralph

    I would like to know where it states that methods for raising revenue for the City as a whole is called a “tax” and may not be imposed just by calling it a fee.

    If anything regular law abiding folks are making their lack of common sense known. I find it hard to believe that people are driving to Walnut Creek to shop to avoid the additional 50 cent it cost to park in Oakland. this probably explains why regular law abiding folk don’t get that it makes good sense for the city to charge more for parking and examine their overall parking policy.

    That being said, I am not keen on giving council more money to waste. Unfortunately, too many of Oakland’s BHL think that thowing money at a problem will solve it. Thus, council throws money at each and every problem yet never requires results.

  36. MarleenLee

    The law can be found in the landmark “Sinclair Paint” case decided by the California Supreme Court.. You can read the case at

    Nobody said people are driving to Walnut Creek to avoid the additional 50 cents. But some people who work there (or the other burbs with free parking) might be more inclined to stay there for dinner, particularly when they don’t also have to worry about being robbed at gunpoint while they dine. Others choose to stay home. Or shop on line. And the whole idea of charging more for parking and THEN examining their overall parking policy? That’s another reason why people are so mad. Had the parking changes been properly motivated (i.e. by a desire other than raising general revenue) anybody with half a brain would have done the study first, and then modify parking rates accordingly.

  37. Max Allstadt

    Marleen, I still believe that the biggest piece of shortsightedness around the publicity of parking fee hikes came from Allen Michaan.

    He thought that his business was in danger because people were scared of parking fees and tickets. So he got on every 6 o’clock news show in the East Bay and did what? Let everybody know that they should be scared of parking fees and tickets, and that the place they should be most scared of was RIGHT NEXT TO HIS OWN THEATER.

    Not exactly brilliant strategy. Then he adds to it by showing the local politicians his idea of diplomacy (threatening to recall them). And then adds hypocrisy (calling a $2 parking fee extortion when he sells a small coke for $3). Then he calls for a one day business strike, costing local businesses more money, and leaving their employees to lose a day’s pay so that he can get attention.

    I think the extended parking hours in particular were a mistake. But someone with a gentler hand and a smaller ego than Allen Michaan could have fixed this quietly. Because he doesn’t have that kind of mentality, he’s probably caused more damage than he suffered in the first place.

    Seriously, I wonder if business picked up after he got on the air and told all his customers they were going to get a ticket? I highly doubt it.

  38. Ralph


    You may not be driving to WC to shop, but some have made that argument. As one who works in SF but lives in Oakland I had no problem making purchases in SF to avoid the add’l sales tax I pay in Oakland. So,I get if you are in WC there is no incremental expense, but if you listen to Mr. Michaan and some other business owners around Grand/Lake you would think every one is now shopping in WC.

    It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out Oakland’s parking rates were too low. In a perfect world they could have conducted the study and implemented a comprehensive policy back in May and June when they were discussing the issue in earnest. But I am having less of a problem with them implementing a temp solution while they work on a comprehensive plan for transportation/parking policy.

  39. MarleenLee

    Max – I personally would not have done what Michaan did. Not my style. But I do admire his determination and his ability to draw attention to the issue to make something happen. I understand the argument about how drawing attention in this way could hurt his business in the short term; however, the same argument could be made about any action that draws attention to the ineptitude and corruption in our city government, or crime. Like, oh, we shouldn’t talk about how inept and corrupt our city government is, or how much crime we have here, because then people won’t want to live here, and businesses won’t want to come here, and property tax and sales tax revenue will go down, and that hurts all of us. I believe that short term pain is worth long term gain – assuming we actually get long term gain (which involves getting rid of the ineptitude and corruption).

    And without public shaming, I don’t believe we’ll get long term gain. I don’t believe that the Council would have done anything about rolling back the meter hours without the hue and cry. I don’t think quiet diplomacy would not have worked. I’ve tried it. I speak from experience. Now, public shaming may not work either, because a lot of these folks seem totally immune, but so far, it seems more effective. Moreover, politicians are more likely to be deterred from repeating offenses where they had to endure public shaming (and hence lost votes) than they are when they have to resolve things “quietly.”

  40. livegreen

    About the Parking Meters = Higher Travel Expenses,

    –My problem with this argument is there is no direct linkage. Note the vocal opponents of the PM fare increases aren’t proposing any solutions.

    Where will they be when the City Counsel cuts somebody else services? Nowhere. Not their problem. Are they urging a reduction in costs? Nope, nothing that detailed. Somebody else’s problems, and just like the City Council (or worse) they won’t be around when somebody else (like the Libraries) has to pay for their extra $0.50/hour.

    –However after reading the GJ’s report I agree with Barry K. & Ralph, the travel expenses are outrageous. I agree with the GJ’s proposals to solve this systematically unsupervised overspending.

    –However IF Jean’s assertions that “The Finance & Management Committee received its first report [on travel expenses] after making drastic budget cuts and new regulations that I authored last year.” are true, then does this mean a solution is actually being implemented?

    –I agree costs in this city are a fundamental problem, not just Travel but Salaries & Benefits. (Including the doubling of automatic salary increases through BOTH the salary schedule AND COLA’s that V has brought up in the past).

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the opponents of the Parking Meter fee increases used their 15 minutes to get lights shined on these areas of expenditures?

    Otherwise all that’s going to happen is cuts and services to other taxpayers.
    (Again, Libraries, etc.). But the anti-Parking Meter crowd doesn’t care about that.

    It’s not their problem.

    Doesn’t sound much better than the Politicians, City Workers, or other narrow-minded Interest Groups to me.

  41. len raphael

    higher fines/rates probably won’t change most oakland consumer buying decisions because most of the price sensitive purchasing dollars already left town for wc, emeryville, sf, concord, san leandro.

    Leaving behind gas, food, restaurants, nail salons, and laundrymats. which are convenience location driven consumer decisions.

    more reasons not to base any parking policy decisions an what the DPT tells us shortly.

  42. Julie

    Longtime reader, infrequent poster. I’m probably going to get flamed for this, but what the hell.

    Here’s my question: why are drivers absorbing all the extra taxes, and folks that ride bikes or walk getting a free ride? By owning and driving my car in/around Oakland, I’m regularly contributing money towards the city, country, and state by buying gas, paying my local mechanic for tuneups, a local car washer for washes, registering my car, etc. And now I’m supposed to pay more to park, so that I can try to spend more of my money locally?

    I was laid off in May, and until I find a job, every single penny counts. So yeah, instead of eating in Oakland, where I’ll have to shell out a couple extra bucks for parking, I’ll go to Berkeley or Alameda. If friends and I are going out for a drink, I’ll aim to arrive later, so that I pay less in parking, and spend less at the bar. And I sure have the time, so I’ll go to the Big Longs on Pleasant Valley or drive out to Target in Albany instead of a closer location, cause its cheaper than parking in Oakland. And considering the local unemployment rate, and the number of folks that are also at Target in the middle of the day, I know I’m not the only one.

    Here’s my solution, and its a little one, but its a start–start charging for the right to bring bikes on public transit. Maybe 50 cents per ride on AC Transit? And have BART devote a single car to bikers, all hours, and charge folks for the luxury. I’ve absolutely no doubt that if it were easier to take a bike on BART during commute hours, more people would take advantage of it. If 50 cents really means that little to those of you commenting above, then surely you won’t mind paying a bit more to have your bike shepherded around.

    Now before I’m flamed for being anti-bike or pro-car or whatever, let it be known that I regularly walk, ride, and drive around Oakland. All have their advantages and disadvantages, but I believe its unfair to place such a large amount of the financial burden on drivers. Cheers.

  43. livegreen

    Ah Julie, what about the free parking on Lakeshore AND on Lake Park?

    What is it with the libertarians in this City? They just ignore the Free Parking here as a matter of convenience, no matter how many times it’s spelled out, because it’s inconvenient & a major flaw in their argument?

    Sounds like we’ve got a lot of good potential Politicians to run for office after all…

  44. Chris Kidd

    Not flaming you Julie. Thanks for speaking your mind.

    But how I see it, drivers receive enormous subsidies every year from the government (much more so than what is given to public transit). They just don’t *know* that they’re receiving it.

    Public transit in all forms are facing enormous cutbacks and slashes in service. To reverse your argument judo-style, why should drivers not suffer the same hardships that public transit riders are going to shoulder?

    Good luck finding employment. It’s tough out there.

  45. livegreen

    Good point. By all means, good luck finding employment. It is indeed a difficult spot to be in…

  46. bennett

    I too am sorry for your position, however, at least the US government counts you into its stats as being part their latest x% out of work gloom-figure that riles traders on Wall street.

    Try running a small business or being self employed – these are the ‘untouchables’ in our caste system. We are not counted.

    Is hope alive? Was there a change of heart by tarp-funded banks who have emerged with a heart” to work together to ‘bail you out” and rebuild our communities. Not.

    The perfect storm rages and the meter issue is just an annoying blip that focuses as a metaphor concerns over the failure of government to be empathetic or even just driven by well reasoned logic.

    It appears that it is time to hit the ‘reset button.’

  47. Robert

    livegreen, why is it that you, and many others, immediately denigrate anyone who says that they have changed their behavior, instead of acknowledging that some people have been impacted by the changes in the parking fees and fines? While there may be many people such as yourself that aren’t impacted, there are others such as Julie, and myself, that have changed their behavior. On this, and the several other blogs that have complained about the parking protest, everyone who says that they have modified their behavior by going out less to Oakland establishments, or by going to WC for shopping, is either ridiculed for making stupid decisions, or minimized as being a rare exception.

    Chris, quit trying to justify parking rate hikes based on a supposed subsidy to autos. It is the car drivers who are heavily subsidizing mass transit, not the transit uses who subsidize cars. Claims of an auto subsidy are based on highly speculative accounting. In one of those weird twists, for people who take transit because of financial need, it would now be more cost effective, based on current subsidies, to buy them a car and pay operating expenses. And it would be far better for social justice reasons also.

    Max, whether Michaan had a good strategy or not will come down to whether he manages to get the meters rolled back. Still too early to tell. But, if he hadn’t raised his voice, and organized the protest, it seems very unlikely that a roll back would have happened.

    Ralph, it may not take a rocket scientist, but it actually did need somebody to actually do the parking study. Still not done, and I am not going to hold my breath. There are places in Oakland that are priced to high, and were priced to high at $1.50, based on empty meter spaces at all hours. At $2.00/hr, Oakland is now priced above some areas in SF.

    As Marleen has pointed out, raising parking fees to dump into the general fund is probably illegal. And this is exactly the conclusion that the recently finalized SF Parking Management Study concluded. It is only because SF has a transportation plan, and that the excess revenues from parking operations go to transit, that they felt it was justified to raise the rate above that needed to recover operation costs. Oakland had better hope that nobody decides to sue, because without a plan they would likely lose, and be forced to roll back meter rates to well below the $1.50 level, and reimburse somehow for the excess collections over the years.

    Julie, thank you for commenting, and providing a different perspective than many on this blog. Good luck to you, it can be very discouraging at times looking for a job, and I share your pain.

  48. livegreen

    Robert, It is the repeated threats of shoppers to go elsewhere for free parking or discounted parking that is disingenuous. The free parking is right here in Oakland.

    And for the record I did not ridicule anybody or call anybody “stupid”. If you came to that conclusion, it is your own. You should not disingenuously put words in somebody else’s mouth that they never uttered.

    I myself am not going out as much, so I’m in the camp of people who HAVE changed their shopping habits. Not because of the parking fares, but generally during an economic recession and since my wife became unemployed, out of caution.

    Sometimes I park at meters, and I pay the fare. If I didn’t, or underpaid, & had gotten a ticket, it would have been myself to blame (it has happened before). The people I know in my neighborhood who are complaining about the tickets were complaining about getting tickets before the fare increases.

    When I’ve gone out to eat & see a movie at Grand Lake, sometimes I parked & paid a fare, sometimes (esp. recently) I parked in the free lot. (Besides whenever I’ve looked for spots at the meters or streets without meters its taken a lot longer to find a spot than just going to the free parking lot.)

    Once again you reply while ignoring the free parking right here in Oakland.
    Once again it’s the fatal flaw in your argument.

    Oakland has much bigger problems than this issue. Crime, economic development, and education. & yes, the expenditures of the City government.

    Yet none of this phases the opponents of the meter increases. Instead it is $0.50/ hr that’s the most important thing wrong with what this City is doing. That speaks for itself.

  49. len raphael

    so what happens next if the effect of the highly publicized aggressively enforced higher fines dramatically changes people’s behavior to avoiding parking fines. will council then propose raising rates or fines higher?

  50. Chris Kidd

    Public transit has its infrastructure costs intrinsically built into its system (especially when considering any rail-based format). Driving does not. Thus, Subsidy.

    The fact that “it would now be more cost effective, based on current subsidies, to buy them a car and pay operating expenses” (whether that is actually true or not) is precisely because of subsidies that our auto-oriented government conveys on drivers. True driving cost, with all necessary infrastructural requirements and massive externalities included, is truly staggering. To deny that is simply to put one’s fingers in one’s ears and say “lalalala, I can’t hear you”.

    No amount of chastisement will change that.

  51. Ralph

    Robert, I have neither ridiculed nor called people stupid for driving to WC to shop. I just think they are either being disingenuous or penny wise and pound foolish. The money and time spent driving to WC is going to be more than the cost for parking. And if you think about it, since they were willing to shop in Oakland pre-rate hike, the real comparison is the cost of driving versus the incremental expense. I can buy that people drive to WC for a Macy’s and other stores not found in Oakland. Heck, I bart to SF because I can shop Macy’s, W-S, C&B, Lucky’s etc. all at once. Just don’t try to convince me you do it because it is cheaper. Show me the study that supports the claim.

    I’ve scaled back my spending as well but not because I need to shell out an additional $0.50 to park but because it is a recession and your President Obama has effectively jacked up my interest rate from 5% to 19%. (To paraphrase another great thinker, I am not sure it is a bad thing that people are spending less money at a bar before hopping behind the wheel of a car to drive home.)

    Just glanced the SF studies, I doubt that Oakland will have a comprehensive study in a week. In the areas I frequent, the $2 seems like a good start, but I have also been rather consistent that I don’t think all areas should be priced the same. For fun, search the threads to find the person who spent some effort pointing out to me that Oakland does not have multiple zone pricing.

  52. Karen Smulevitz

    With the current state of the economy in mind, I don’t think the city should authorize ANY travel expenses. Conferences can be informative and inspiring, but rarely are worth the cost. One would assume Jean Quan is already inspired, and whatever information is to be gained from the Harlem meet-up could be found online, and couldn’t one follow it on one’s city-paid Blackberry?

  53. livegreen

    BTW, One thing I am confused by is the $ on Parking Tickets:

    1st, the increase in tickets was not done by the City of Oakland. I’ve read in a couple newspaper articles that the $10 surcharge was from the State of CA (something to do with Court Houses?);

    2nd, whether it was $45 or $55, why are some people being fined more?

    An explanation would be helpful, and on this issue I do agree with the protesters.
    It should be clear & reasonable (ie. a $55 ticket should not cost $80).

    The enforcement should be balanced and fair. It has certainly not helped the City’s case.
    Once again, I believe a compromise is good and fair to all.

  54. Barry K

    Hi Karen (and others),

    The Alameda Grand Jury issued several items about the City of Oakland regarding travel, Pay-Go and credit card use. Namely, STOP! There’s little to no oversight and they provided an excellent outline for the City to adopt and implement.

    The City Council responded to the Oakland Travelgate by doubling the number of trips that certain City Council took in the next FY. Please note, travel is not limited to the City Council.

    The point I raised earlier in this tread about the Parking Meter (and collecting additional revenue), is that when the Council meets again tomorrow about the parking/meter situation, another item is for the Council to authorized Jean Quan to take another City-paid trip on non-City business.
    She serves on the board of the group holding their meeting in NY City. Let her go, but, let her pay her own way, and, make sure she takes vacation time, or paid time off.

    How many $55 parking tickets will need to be issued to cover this social networking trip? Money better spent on: Public works (pot holes, sidewalks, trees), libraries (hours, books, supplies), infrastructure….

    Increased Meter/citation revenue supports travel. It’s a tax.
    I am glad that Michaan brought attention to this issue. There’s been no public outrage over Measure Y, Measure OO, City Travel, Pay-Go, Car Allowances, City Credit Cards, Nepotism and so forth.
    If it took a $2hour and 6-8PM increase to finally get the public motivated; about time.

  55. len raphael

    this ebxpress article half of the $10 was for perata’s change and half was t to cover a county cost. thought Jean blamed the entire $10 on Perata.

    Apart from the above, isn’t berkeley only charging 45 for parking fines? Check out Berkeley’s web site for parking tickets, a model of clarity. I can’t find any customer service web site for Oakland. (btw, yelp rates Oakland Parking Dept one star)

  56. Julie

    Thanks for the employment wishes, folks. Hopefully I’ll be fully employed again within soon. In response to your comments:

    @livegreen. Your original comment added absolutely nothing helpful to the discussion, and your attempt to insult me by calling me a libertarian (which I’m not, I’m as liberal as it comes) was juvenile and lame. If you don’t like my suggestion, say so, but don’t discredit me because I have a different opinion. I don’t see you offering up any alternative ideas on getting more money into the city coffers. Also, you keep referencing the Grand Lake shopping area. Do you really think its horrible that in a city the size of Oakland, with nearly half a million people, having one shopping area with limited free parking is too much? Yeah, its great for the area, and I do use the lots when I shop at Trader Joe’s and the farmer’s market, but not all of my shopping needs are met in that neighborhood, thus my driving further north to Albany (NOT WC, as you keep referencing). One reason that i live in Oakland, rather than SF, is because I don’t want to live in such a densely packed urban area.

    @Chris. Do you have evidence of these subsidies? Maybe I am receiving them, but the way I see it, I’m still pouring thousands of dollars (excluding car payments) annually into the local economy to keep my car up and running. Bikers aren’t. My point is that we’re living in a crappy period, and it only seems fair that everyone shares the pain.

    @Robert. Thanks.

    I hate the idea of $2 meters, but I could live with them for a couple years while the city budget gets realigned with the new reality. I’m much more interested in having the time rolled back to 6pm. I wonder if Desley Brooks would be such a supporter of the extended times if she actually had to pay for her parking downtown.

  57. Matt

    Tea Parking ’09

    I believe business owners are lying and some residents are just bitchy no matter what. Why? Well, because of the facts.

    Shopping in Emeryville:
    $3 in gas plus 20-30 min in travel time round trip. 24/7 parking meters, however there’s a good amount of free street parking and garages/lots. If you don’t buy something some garages still charge.

    Shopping in Berkeley:
    Much like Emeryville, but with far less free street parking and garages/lots. Meters run til 6pm and cost $1.25/hr.

    Shopping in Marin:
    $10 in gas and tolls plus 1 hr travel time round trip. Free parking everywhere.

    Shopping in Walnut Creek:
    $4-6 in gas plus 40-70 min in travel time round trip. Free parking in some shopping centers. City owned garages start at a $1/hr with $3 max for the day at the cheapest garage.

    Shopping in SF:
    $8-10 in gas and tolls plus 40min to 70min in travel time round trip. Street parking is $4/hr and garages start at $2/hr.

    Shop in Oakland:
    $3 in gas (tops) plus 20 min round trip from your awesome Oakland neighborhood. Free street parking is easily found everywhere but Downtown. All grocery stores and big box stores like BestBuy and Home Depot have totally free parking. Kiosks take credit cards and the tickets go with you and are usable until they expire -no other city does that. Meters, as we all know, are now $2/hr and run until 8pm (but you can buy a 3hr ticket after 5pm at all kiosks)

    Once some of you have come down off your ledge… what is the big freak’n deal?

  58. Barry K

    In the last complete City Council Report on the City Car Allowance Program posted on,
    “The City has provided an auto allowance designated to City officials and employees for at least 30 years The purpose is to facilitate the ability of City officials and associates to conduct City business such as attending community meetings off-site inspections and field work meetings with the City’s customers, professional training and development, and other officially sanctioned City business.”
    (March 2003), issued by Robert Bobb, he found the City was paying $700,000 a year for the City Car Allowance Program with $400,000 from the General Fund. He proposed cutting the Program by $200,000 for the FY 2003-2005 budget.

    The Car Allowance Program also includes free parking for some employees too.

    Anyone remember the media reporting that 200+ City cars were missing a couple of years ago? Or, that City employees were using cars to commute (home-work)? And, the unions balked at having GPS units installed in City-owned cars?

    What is the current cost of the Car Allowance Program and who benefits from it?

    Seems to me that the “lost revenue” in meters and fines could be found with cuts to: Pay-Go; Car Allowance; Travel.

  59. livegreen


    You’re using a Liberterian argument. That was not an insult but a political and economic label. Especially as I did not aim it directly at you, but at all supporters of reduced or no Parking Fees (like Michaan, who you find yourself with).

    Instead you stoop to insults like “juvenile” & “lame”, which I never did, and is hardly a reasoned defense.

    In your first post you spoke about paying for parking when you’re going out to dinner or for drinks and why you didn’t want to stay in Oakland. I simply pointed out an area where there’s plenty of free parking, where dining is ample.

    Now you triangulate by saying you were talking about shopping. Well, I have an answer for you there too: Longs Drug store and Wal-Mart (Matt gave other examples). Plenty of free parking where you can buy cheap products right here in Oakland (or split between here and elsewhere as we ALL do and did even BEFORE the parking increase).

    I agree, we need better shopping in Oakland. The tricky thing with Redevelopment is it takes years to figure out how to reconfigure existing businesses in the City to make it happen, while simultaneously not losing other businesses and employment (esp. blue collar, which will only result in more crime).

    This issue has been discussed many times before on ABO and I’m sure will be again…

  60. Ralph

    “If it took a $2hour and 6-8PM increase to finally get the public motivated; about time.”

    Yeah and that is a problem because while the people are arguing about peanuts the city has serious financial issues with Measure OO, City Travel, Pay-Go, Car Allowances, City Credit Cards, and Nepotism that are either not being addressed and are certainly not being resolved in the best interest of the people.

    Parking plugs a $1MM gap and Measure OO creates a $4MM hole. I will still argue that higher parking rates and longer hours were the right thing for the wrong reason, but not stopping the city from creating a $4MM hole shows a complete lack of fiscal responsibility by the people.

  61. MarleenLee

    Hopefully Oaklanders are slowly connecting the dots and realizing that the City is reaching into their pockets for dimes and quarters and is throwing it away on junkets to Harlem, limo drivers, parking allowances, etc. etc. Anything that heightens awareness of these abuses is good. Hopefully somebody (or lots of people) will make this point tomorrow night.

  62. Ralph

    Barry, JQ does not “serve on the board of the group holding their meeting in NY City.” She serves on the board of an Oakland intergovernmental org. She is attending conference on their behalf. That being said, I don’t see why City Council should approve and we pay for her travel. If the organization wants her to attend, then the money should come from their operating budget.

  63. Barry K

    MarleenLee- I’m glad you get it all! I wish more did. (Fascinating how many dots there are and where they lead to.)

    1. Quan’s request for the City-paid junket to NY is being held in New York City at the Sheraton Towers. Not Harlem.

    2. Adopt A Resolution Authorizing Councilmember Jean Quan To Travel To New York On October 7-9, 2009 To Attend The Harlem Children’s Zone Practitioner’s Institute As A Board Member Of Safe Passages; On the October 6, 2009 City Council Agenda
    (Typo by City Clerk; it’s in November.)
    **This is up for Council vote tomorrow night!***

    Ralph- “JQ” is a Board Member of Safe Passages, which is how it’s stated for her travel request for the City to pay for all of her expenses. This is a “City Resolution?”

    I propose: The Council vote “NO”on this City Resolution.
    Jean Quan can attend this event at her own expense and not with her office funds. If she does attend, it should be done on her vacation time, or, time off without pay.

    Council Members have taken 16 all-expense-paid-trips since the Grand Jury report slamming Oakland on travel. What fiscal crisis?

    Again, as I stated above:
    Grand Jury Slams Oakland for Travel Expenses, July 13, 2009
    “The grand jury said much of the travel involves attending out-of-state conferences “with the primary purpose of social networking” that return little, if any benefit, to the city of Oakland, which faces a $100 million deficit for the current fiscal year.”

  64. Robert


    $12.2B – motor vehicle payments going into CALTrans (includes Fed Trust Fund)

    $0 – transit riders payments into CALTrans

    ~95% percent trips by auto
    ~5% percent trips by transit
    (I couldn’t find the precise number for CA, so estimated from national figures)

    Your transit infrastructure number leaves out capital costs for transit vehicles, a significant expense.

    So in spite of the fact that transit users contribute nothing to the CALTrans budget, they receive a benefit for infrastructure that is roughly in proportion to their ridership. And they we have the operating subsidies.

  65. Robert

    I think that posters here are correct, that the parking protest is not primarily about the actual charges for parking, but are a protest against a city govenment that is unable to control its expenses. The parking changes brought things to a head because they are something that are seen daily by people.

  66. Robert

    Ralph, you are correct that the city is throwing money away, but that doesn’t justify skimming another million from the pockets of the residents.

  67. Matt

    Hey… transit riders, like me, pay several taxes that fund road construction and maintenance. Also, many transit riders, like me, unfortunately also own and drive a car because about 50 years ago the transit system in this blooming country was essentially dismantled. Anywho, all this including JQ’s trip to NYC have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

    V Smooth, thank you for stating what actually happened prior to the Tea Parking fiasco. Allen Michaan really pisses me off.

  68. Ralph

    Barry, I know that JQ is a board member for SP. I also know that you were incorrect when you stated she “serves on the board of the group holding their meeting in NY City.” SP is not holding a board mtg in NYC. The group offering the mtg is Harlem Children’s Zone. Still, if you read on, you will note that I was not supportive of the city covering her travel expenses for this conference. I think if you took the time to get past your frustration you will also note that I stated that the city is out of touch with best T&E practices and basic internal controls.

    Robert, I don’t think that the city is skimming dimes for parking. (We can agree to disagree.) But if stakeholders are only going to get upset about the pennies and say absolutely noting about the dollars do you honestly think council has the incentive to change. If the watchdog is only keep track of mouseballs in the front door while the elephant is leaving out the back door, would you change?

  69. Robert

    Ralph, livegreen – I am not going to search through all the threads on this and other blogs to figure out who said what, but if you want a specific example of the insults that have occurred, just take a look at Matt’s comment above. And I do consider it belittling when you make comments to the effect that people who say they will go to WC for shopping or eating are being ‘penny wise and pound foolish’, since you are making a value judgement and you don’t know all the circumstances behind their situation.

  70. Robert

    Ralph, I think that is where Michaan’s call to recall all of the council comes in. A successful recall, or even serious movement along those lines, might actually convince city government to gets its house in order. I tend to agree with Max however, it will not actually happen. And yes, we can agree to disagree about the dimes for parking.

  71. Robert

    Matt, those are the direct taxes/fees paid by motorists for the privilege of driving. And the taxes/fees paid by motorists cover pretty much all of the highway and road construction and maintenance. Transit users pay nothing directly for the benefit of taking transit, although they also benefit from the highway/road infrastructure.

  72. Matt

    Robert, are you claiming that $0 of sales tax, $0 of property tax, $0 of income tax and $0 of corporate tax pay for road construction and maintenance? Even if that impossibility were true, the state has been raiding transit specific tax funds for use in the general fund for years now. Drivers are NOT the only ones who pay for auto mobility.

    I’m really getting the impression you view transit riders as leaches or the like. So I propose that all transit riders drive to work tomorrow :-)

    So, anyone care to discuss Allen Michaan’s lie campaign againt the parking changes? How about how it deflected attention away from important things like crime and economic development?

  73. Ralph

    Robert, do you have a better explanation for why people who routinely shopped in Oakland pre rate hike now opt to shop in WC. I can buy that if something in one’s personal routine changed that requires one to be in WC one might shop in WC. I just have a hard time believing that $0.50 was the reason.

    Michaan’s recall effort makes no sense. Apparently, he does not live in Oakland. By the time, signatures are gathered, half the council will probably be within the 6 mo window making them ineligible. Just to get a member on a recall ballot, you got a high bar – 20% of the electorate for that district. Then there is just your basic voter apathy.

    Mr. Michaan reminds me of the moral majority. He is neither moral nor the majority, but he is loud enough to drown out civil productive discussion.

  74. Barry K

    Ralph, not frustrated here. The City has not approved the junket for JQ yet. It’s up for vote tomorrow night; same night as the parking/meter/fines/fees are discussed. I did read your earlier post about the T&E and the City being out of control. I’m glad we agree on this subject.

    JQ is Chair of the Finance & Mgmt Committee, and, is part of the “parking pack” of select Council members to source alternate parking revenue with a proposed rollback. Concurrently, she wants her junket paid for at the next Council meeting.

    How many potholes could be filled, or crosswalks repainted, trees serviced, sidewalks repaired, or signage added to our roads to benefit everyone instead of a junket? Everyone is impacted by the cuts to public works: car drivers; bicyclists; walkers; mass transit users.

    Be it distractions or abuses, connect the dots with regards to the meters.

  75. Robert

    Matt, the CALTrans budget is about $12.2 billion, of which $11.8 billion goes to highway and road infrastructure. License fees and registration, fuel taxes and Federal Trust Fund (from Federal Excise tax on fuels) contributes $12.2 billion to the state budget. So regardless how how the money gets divided in the state’s coffers, motor vehicles owners, as part of their ownership of the car/truck, pay in enough to fully fund the highway infrastructure. While transit funds may have been raided for the general fund, they are not needed to cover the highway portion of the budget. Blame the rest of the welfare state for that raid, I do.

    I don’t view transit riders as leaches, and I support some types of transit, for environmental and social justice reasons. However, I don’t like the argument that transit deserves money because it has been slighted in funding compared to cars, or that the reasonably well off deserve to get a free ride (or a highly reduced fare ride). I do believe that bus transit is a transit model that was out-competed by cars 50 years ago, not because of any subsidy but because the car was seen as a far superior solution to the needs of individuals. Cars may have gotten a disproportionate share of the money 50 years ago, but that was because the public was widely in favor of the car. The automobile revolutionized transportation. And to replace the car we will need another revolutionary concept. And a failed 50 year old model is not going to be the revolution.

    While I agree that the council should be spending more time on crime and development, they don’t really seem to want to deal with that even in the absence of the parking brouhaha. I hope that this does focus community awareness on fiscal policy in Oakland.

  76. Robert

    Ralph, I think everyone is missing something on why we might shop in WC. It does not come down to just the incremental 50 cents. Shopping in Oakland vs. WC has many parts, both convenience and costs, and the extra money may, for some people, in some circumstance, be enough to push the balance over in favor of WC. For example, I recently did go to WC, parked for free for 3 hours, went to 5 different stores. To accomplish the same thing in Oakland, I would have needed to go to 2 or 3 different areas, (GL, Rockridge, and Bay Street (which isn’t even in Oakland), and spent as least as much time driving as I did to go to WC. And because I still had an hour left on the 3 hours, I went to the bookstore. Wouldn’t have done that on the Oakland trip, since it would have been yet another stop.

    Now, was any one thing solely responsible for the decision to shop WC? No. But for me, with the shopping I had to do, I decided that it would be better to go to one place and save my 6 bucks in parking. Before the parking hike, I might have made three different trips on different days to get things done. Parking is part of the decision process, and at some point the scales tip over to skipping the hassle of Oakland. The tipping point is going to be different for everyone.

    Most communities, when business is suffering, look for ways to help their business community. Oakland took exactly the opposite approach, and found a way to make things incrementally harder.

  77. Matt


    Again, drivers do not cover the full cost of auto infrastructure. Do you want me to post my property tax assessment to prove it?

    I do not agree with your assessment of auto mobility. Transit was not simply out competed by cars. There was a well documented conspiracy to ruin public transit in the US. Yes, people wanted cars, but they were also egged on by business interests, by government and by disappearing public transit options.

    Auto mobility is a 50 year old model that has resoundingly failed. We can’t fuel it, we don’t have the space for it and we don’t have the physical and monetary resources to keep it going. Replacing it with bus and rail IS revolutionary to Americans raised in the automobile age.

    Have you ever been to a city that has a comprehensive transit system? I have and I can tell you it is far more liberating than a car.

    About your shopping in WC instead of Oakland. I get that you shopped there because of the variety of shops in close proximity, not parking. So let’s push this parking crap to the side. Instead, let’s work to push the City of Oakland to be nicer to business, so we can have that nice variety of shops in every neighborhood. That’s an issue we can all rally behind.

  78. livegreen


    Re. Highway Funds, is the Federal Trust Fund the same as the Highway Funds they disperse to the states, or different?

    Re. Parking in WC, I appreciate that the tipping point is different for everyone. Your description is less vengeful, more detailed, more realistic and more conditional than people who say they’re not going to do anymore shopping in Oakland.

    For a short or medium shopping trip, which is probably most, if you throw in traffic through that awful tunnel, it simply doesn’t make sense. For a 3 hour trip, there’s no question that’s different.

    Of course Oakland probably couldn’t support that anyway. The lack of Shopping here is something that has come up repeatedly not only on ABO but also in the City Counsel. It’s why they’ve been looking at Redevelopment both close to Tidewater and in the Broadway Corridor.

  79. len raphael

    BK, go online, fill out a speaker card (so Sonji doesn’t put us to sleep), and get your bod down to the city council to make just your one point about freezing all travel.

    somewhere on this site you’ll find V’s dummys guide to speaking at cc.

    btw, Oakland should do what most businesses do re car expenses: no flat “allowances” only mileage and parking reimbursement per detailed online expense report.


  80. Ralph

    At first, I thought your argument above for why people go to WC is exactly why I call the $0.50 WC protestors disingenuous. After re-reading it, and I mean this in the nicest way possible, you and others like you don’t fit the economic model.

    To shop like you do, the normal person would have shopped either WC or Union Square from the outset. When shopping for jeans and housewares, I opt to shop SF because it is a better use of time. It makes no sense to do it Oakland because you need to drive to multiple locations and waste time. The normal person is going to value the time more.

    If people were willing to make the multiple trips in Oakland before, then I will go with they valued spending money in Oakland more than they valued time. Still, I am perplexed as to why they now value time more than money, but I will leave that to greater minds than mine.

    note: normal is used in a purely economic sense, i make no value judgment

  81. len raphael

    Matt, There’s no fury like an oakland progressive’s love spurned. People looking for the worst thing they can call Michaan saying he’s no progressive.

    For what 7 years he blasted obnoxious simplistic anti bushcheney agitprop on his theatre’s marquee, which was lauded by most oaklanders as progressive because they hated bush so much they didn’t bother considering most of his stuff was drivel. Now that they don’t like his opinions, they’ve turned on him.

    Post your property tax bill. But it wb more helpful if instead you dug into the public finances of road financing and responded point by point to Robert. If what Robert says is complete, then the public subsidy of vehicles is that of global warming and health, not immediate tax dollars.

    (ps, i watched movies at the grand lake during those 7 years, and i will again. to me he’s just another local character)

    -len raphael

  82. len raphael

    Ralph, this afternoon was talking to a middle aged middle income couple who live on the border of oakland/berkeley about oakland parking. they eat out a couple of nights a week. they just matter of factly said they had seen dozens of emails from neighbors warning them of longer meter hours and fines, and so had simply deleted Piedmont Ave restaurants off their list when there were so many in Berkeley to choose from. They didn’t know rates had gone up, and couldn’t tell me what the rates or fines were in berkeley (other than alt side of the street parking only being $35). It wasn’t the cost at all. It was the hassle factor.

    -len raphael

  83. len raphael

    This parking fee tempest is not some big tipping point of the electorate. Roll the hours back to 6pm jiggle the projected numbers and the voters will go back to a slightly troubled sleep.


  84. Ralph

    Barry, try as I may, I am unable to connect the dots between parking and travel. Still, I am opposed to JQ travel for a couple of reasons: 1) BD members are not in the position to implement programs, it would make more sense for an employee of SP to attend, and 2) City Council should never use city funds to fund programs/travel/etc. of agencies that should in theory have their own budget.

    Len, help me with the hassle factor. The rates went up and hours extended until 8, exactly what is the hassle.

  85. livegreen

    Barry K., As mentioned before the T&E seem to me indirectly linked through the budget to the Parking, if not directly.

    That said you’re right, the timing shows the synergies aligning themselves.

    & you’re right, after reading the GJ report the T&E expenses are out of control. You mention 16 all expense paid trips, which if true, further demonstrates an utter in-difference.

    If I trusted the City Govt. more I might be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt to go and learn about the Harlem Childrens Zone. How., why does it have to be JQ, instead of the staff of Safe Passages? & Can’t they buy a book about it? (which would be more detailed & informative). The fact that it’s at the Sharaton Towers looks like it’s made for City Officials from around the country to derive secondary benefits.

    I don’t trust that a CC as busy as JQ can implement what she finds there. Even if she were so inclined, when would she have the time? & as Ralph says, the money?

    Proposal: CC & City Staff who go on major trips on the City’s dime should have to write a Report that details what they learned, how what they learned will affect public policy, and how they will implement that policy.

    Then we’ll at least know our money is working for the City, the Programs, the people they serve & the taxpayers. Everyone benefits.

    If this transparency deters them from traveling, then they probably didn’t intend the City to benefit from it anyway…

    PS. If she does the trip, SP should pay for it. They already have MYOC + Foundation funding.

    PPS. I don’t think this is what Michaan is thinking, and I doubt he’ll raise any of these issues. I hope, Barry K., that you and some others do. Otherwise it’s $0.50 or bust, and as Ralph said there will be no incentive (NONE) for the CC to change.

  86. len raphael

    Ralph, had to go back a few posts, but i thought Bk’s point was that the cc buries the bigger financial sins such as junkets, car allowances, ineffective social programs, over compensated staffing, with a bunch of minor and minor budget tweaks and cuts of which parking fines/rates is just one.

    at first, Bk wasn’t take seriously, but he brought up some valid stuff about travel costs and car allowances that most of us had ignored as minor.

    And yes i asked the couple the same question. reply “who wants to go out to dinner and worry about bringing enough change to feed a meter or plan on how long it will take to be served”. I pointed out that most of Oakland takes credit cards and they were surprised. (does Berkeley?)

    So we take some measure Y money to run a Try Oakland for Dinner Out Tonight campaign. Feature those wonderful parking kiosks and a different restaurant each night for a month. hmm, maybe have to buy billboard space since no one reads newspapers.

  87. Robert

    Matt, maybe you should post your property tax assessment, because nothing on mine is dedicated to auto infrastructure. The only transportation related item is the ACTransit subsidy, which everyone pays, regardless of whether they actually use the bus. You are certainly welcome to your interpretation of the events that happened 50 years ago. And try reading again my WC explanation, without filtering it through the prism of your own behavior.

    lg, yes, the Federal Trust Fund is the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

    Ralph, I appreciate that you actually did read the WC post. But this is what I meant about minimizing folks who post information contrary to your own beliefs. You implicitly indicated that my experience was not important, because the behavior was not typical (or normal, no judgement assumed). But multiple people have indicated that parking fees/fines are a factor in their shopping/dining choices. So while they may not be typical, they should not be ignored, and every lost customer hurts business. Even lg has admitted to behavior changes, looking more often for the free parking, in spite of the stated opinion that the parking charges are too small to be a factor. Most of my own behavior change has been to be more aggressive in finding the free parking, not because I can’t afford it, but because I don’t want to give it to the city to waste.

    Thanks len, all the information is available from the budget documents on the ca state web site. Look for department 2660, the Department of Transportation.

    I also believe that global warming is a major problem. But the solution to that is to switch to non-CO2 generating energy sources, not necessarily to get rid of cars.

  88. jack b dazzle

    Unfortunately, Neither the city council nor the Pundits really understand driving, parking, or business.

    If there is any question about parking, people will avoid the situation. It is too stressful, and there are other places to shop. While I enjoy the new availability of parking spaces, I now park a few blocks away in free parking, as I have now accidentally gotten 2 tickets, and I am not inclined to risk getting any more. When the rainy season comes, I will need to decide if I want to get wet, or risk a ticket.

    If parking is not easy, clear, or if the enforcements are predatory, people will not come. Suburbia has known this for years, which is why they have lots of free parking and lots of sales tax revenue.

    The parking has become so confusing, that people just don’t bother. Did anyone know that there is a minimum for a credit card? It does not say so on the machines. It just won’t print your ticket.

    Ever not know how long your shopping will take. These meters don’t let you add time. What a hassle!

    You can dismiss me, but the facts are clear. The meter parking is empty most days.

  89. Ralph

    JBD, the machines clearly state that there is a minimum for a credit card. At least the machines I have used in Berkeley, SF, and Oakland. Then there is simple common sense, there is a flat rate plus pct fee to use the card; thus, it makes no sense for the city to allow you to use the card for 15 minutes.

    Parking in SF is confusing; yet people still do it.

    Robert, I am not minimizing your experience but in an economic model (not my beliefs) you would not be the normal case. As to fines, I will state again that I have no sympathy for people who get a ticket. One pays for 2 hours; one shops for 2 hours. If one is old enough to drive a car and read the street signs I am guessing one is old enough to tell time. One can either do less shopping or shop faster. Maybe it is because I lived in places where DPT tickets people that I understand this concept, but fines are avoidable and the city should never make bank on fines (because smart people should not get them and we are all smart people). (Ironically in m/m comps the Oakland DPT actually issued fewer tickets in July and Aug of this year than last year. Seriously, if one thinks they are going to need more time, pay for more time. In the real world we call this insurance.

    With your extra hour, did you buy anything at the bookstore?

  90. Ken O

    @robert cars will go the way of the dodo, just like the roman chariot, the oxcart, and whale oil lamps, because oil is going the way of the dodo.

    no amount of renewable boondoggles blowing green smoke up our collective ass will allow us to keep running walmart, disneyworld and the interstates for same-ole car travel. sure the upper classes will have their electric cars but everyone else will continue moving toward motorcycles, vespas, bicycles, skateboards, public transit and private jitney. (I run a pedicab in DTO myself, feel free to hop on board =)

    I’m fine paying for parking. I love paying for it. And that’s because “free” parking has VERY high costs. You should read the book “the high cost of free parking.” If you like Walmart, never mind.

    Here are a few of the real externalized costs of Free Parking:

    1. People circling the block for up to an hour looking for parking (SF) In Oakland depending on where, more like 10-15 minutes max. Waste of gas, polluting, extra traffic, noisy cars, increased stress all around

    2. Waste of urban real estate. Much better uses for space than putting a big unusable glass steel and plastic cage there. Lost opportunity cost of having something else cool in a parking spot whether on a public street (our last “public open spaces”) or elsewhere. Why is it that Americans go to Europe, South America or Asia to enjoy some “other” lifestyle? (street food, walk everywhere, trains are better, lots to do…) And then we come back to the USA and get back on the corporate/bankster approoved hamster wheel.

    3. Health benefits of NOT driving; healthcare costs.

    4. Cars are inherently dangerous machines. Car drivers injure or kill pedestrians and other non-car drivers far more than vice versa. Nevermind carkill — “road” kill

    5. Cars off-gas toxic fumes from their PVC interiors and from their gas tanks when parked in place

    6. Parking lots full of cars are Fugly (like the one we were able to defeat in Uptown, hooray!)

    7. If parking is PAID, it’s MUCH EASIER to find an open spot for people who “really” do need to drive (moving packages, big shopping trip…)

    So… people can suck it. Everyone wants what’s easy, not sacrifice for the common good. And that is Americans’ problem. We vote ourselves into a bankrupt welfare state. There is NO FREE LUNCH.


  91. jarichmond

    Where is the meter parking empty most days? Last night, at 7:30, I walked down College from the BART station to Manilla and didn’t see a single open space. Notice that this was a Monday night, which is not exactly the most popular restaurant night, and that the meters were still running. This seems to be the normal situation on College every day.

    When I walk up Piedmont, I see the same thing every day. I’m sure there are places in the city where the meter parking is underused, since I also see empty spaces every day along Broadway, but I don’t think it’s the meters that are causing people to not park there.

    Suburbia has lots of free parking because suburbia has lots of space to allow for parking. Where exactly do you propose putting all this free parking here in the middle of a dense urban city? None of the neighborhoods I frequent have the space to have the kinds of parking that you see out in the suburbs, and even if they did, I chose to live in Oakland, not Hayward. If I wanted something that looks just like every other bland suburb in America, I would have lived there instead.

  92. Armishanks

    “The parking has become so confusing, that people just don’t bother. Did anyone know that there is a minimum for a credit card? It does not say so on the machines. It just won’t print your ticket.”

    It violates the Visa and Mastercard merchant rules to impose a minimum amount for a credit card purchase. The city will not confirm what that minimum is, despite repeated requests. So I have contested my parking charges to my credit card company. This unfortunately will cost the city $50 in dispute charges for each one, but I hope that is a lesson to Mr. Yew and Mr. Pinto for not responding to citizen requests.

  93. Ralph

    True, the minimum does violate the V/MC merchant rules. This is not the first time this has come up with regard to these new parking machines. I suspect a number of cities have or wil need to address this issue. I believe you can charge a convenience fee and offer a cash discount witout being in violation.

    Frankly, I don’t think it is worth the hassle to argue as I prefer the card to a pocket full of change. I may only need 30 minutes but it buys me insurance and who knows maybe I will stop in the bookstore and buy something.

    PS: Just learned that in Champaign, IL parking is 8am – 9pm. After 5 you can go as long as you like. They even have color codes for movie parking zones

  94. Barry K

    It’s really sad to read that our community is so divided over the parking/fines/fees issues. In the meantime, while it comes to abuses of City Officials and City employees that involves their use of cars, this is defended by City Officials.

    Here’s the most recent Alameda Grand Jury report slamming Oakland over travel abuses (two months ago). See the highlights about “cars” including, parking. see: see pages 17-18 about car rentals

    “Expenses incurred during travel, such as meals charged to credit cards or upgrades to rental cars or hotel rooms, were also not reported in the overall cost to the city.”

    “In several cases employee travel expense records included valet parking charges but did not include charges for a car rental.”

    “The grand jury then examined statements for the city credit cards issued to the employees attending the conference and found records of car rentals. These car rental expenses were not included on the report to the city council. The grand jury found several similar instances of this failure to account fully for travel expenses and also noted that on several occasions the city employees rented “premium” or “upgraded” cars.”

    “Only after the moratorium was issued did the city modify its approval process for travel; however, the grand jury found the original city policies regarding travel have not been changed. The travel moratorium is only temporary and can be eliminated at any time, as it does not replace actual city policy.”

    “However, when city issued credit cards are used, controls are essentially non-existent, allowing city employees to upgrade their airline seating; upgrade their rental car; and to pay for meals charged to room service or in a restaurant and also claim the per diem food allowance.”

    “However, the grand jury recommends eliminating issuing credit cards to city employees altogether.”

    Meter Tax = Travel Tax.

  95. Ralph

    I am definitely more outraged about the travel abuses and other poor use of tax payer funds than I am about parking. Parking is mouseballs and the right thing to do. Meter tax is not a travel tax.

    I find it disturbing that the city does not have any internal controls to prevent the kind of fraud and waste highlighted by the GJ report.

    Quite frankly, some of the abuses that were highlighted are cause for dismissal in the private sector. You repay the money and are shown the door. I think the employees of the city are operating under some misguided notion of what it is like in the private sector. We should show JQ the door. What the committee has recommended and the council will probably pass tonight is an abuse of taxpayer funds.

    Speaking of tonight, does anyone know which way the council is leaning with the rollback? Trying to figure out the best use of my time.

  96. Ralph

    So it is a matter of 6 versus 7, with staying at 8 definitely off the table?

    As this is a revenue not policy issue, I take they have found the money to close the gap?

    Is there an estimate on the number of HC placards issued to Oakland residents?

  97. V Smoothe

    It’s 6, and they are using revenue from “future billboard agreements” to make up the gap. There’s a link to the proposal at the top of this post.

  98. Ralph

    gotcha. been a few days since i read the original post. funny, i before seeing your post, i glanced future cc mtg agendas and noticed that RK has an item to extract $400K fr CCO and some annual pymts for rt to place some billboards on EBMUD property. on the plus side CCO will be removing 30 odd billboards.

    i guess if council is going with 6, I have no reason to speak on item 15.

  99. Barry K

    Regardless where any stands on this subject, please forward YOUR comments to the council, and Elected officials. It’s going to be a long night. -Barry K,,,,,,,,,,

  100. Naomi Schiff

    Prepare for a lovely view of Oakland as BIllboardland, coming off the Bay Bridge. Maybe we should change our name? Short sighted and inelegant.

  101. Robert

    Hopefully we can all welcome the news that Oakland will finally be doing a parking study as a first step to properly set up a parking management program.