What is free parking worth to you?

You are all, of course, aware by now that in a few hours, the Oakland City Council will consider a proposal from District 2 Councilmember Pat Kernighan to rescind the Council’s June decision to extend Oakland’s parking meter hours until 8 PM (PDF):

I proposed that Council vote to roll back the meter enforcement from 8 p.m. to 6 p.m. That is the aspect of the parking changes that seems to be causing the biggest problem for most people. We heard from many people who were deterred from doing or going out to dinner in Oakland by the cost of the meters and the risk of getting a ticket. Our neighboring cities do not charge for parking between 6 and 8 pm, so we are placing an extra challenge on our restaurant and small businesses by doing so.

It is certainly true that it’s hard to avoid hearing people threatening to go out to eat in Emeryville instead of Oakland from now on because of the later parking meter hours. These people, of course, must not actually be going to dinner in Emeryville, because if they had done so, they would of course know that Emeryville’s meters run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is also true that it is common to hear people promising to drive to Walnut Creek to go shopping instead of Oakland, in protest of the meter rates. These people, too, are either lying or completely irrational, since a trip to Walnut Creek doesn’t actually save anyone any money. I know lots of people who do choose to shop in Walnut Creek instead of Oakland, but none of them do it because of the parking – they do it because Walnut Creek has stores to shop at, and when they go out there, they usually complain about what a pain the whole trip is. I have to say, the part of this whole parking meter mess I find most surprising is how little value people claim to place on their time.

In any case, Kernighan further proposes replacing the estimated $1.3 million in lost revenue from rolling back the meter hours by increasing enforcement against the improper use of disabled parking placards (PDF). Her memo suggests that such action could bring over $1 million a year in revenue to the City:

The revenue that could be generated by eliminating even half of the abuse of the disabled placards could yield a substantial amount of revenue for the City. Based on operating hours from 8 am to 6 pm, at $2.00 per hour, six days a week, each metered space should generate $20 per day, or $6,120 per year. At 85% occupancy, the meter would generate $5,202 per year. If increased enforcement deterred the illegal use of the placards by people who are not actually disabled and 250 parking spaces were freed up for paying drivers, this would generate an extra $1,300,500 per year in revenue for the City.

Whether Kernighan’s back of the envelope calculations about the revenue such a step could create are correct or not, I don’t think you’d find many people willing to say they disagree with the proposal. After all, even with all the complaining about tickets and hours and meter rates going on, the most common complaint I still hear about parking is that people can’t find any, and many residents are quick to blame the high number of disabled placards for at least part of the problem.

However, considering all the devastating cuts that have already been made to core City services this year, and also considering that we all know there will likely be substantial further cuts necessary in a few months, it seems, in short, completely insane that we would use any extra money we might be able to bring in to give away public space to cars, rather than using it to either restore some of the serious cuts that have already been made, or to prevent future cuts.

After all, there are many good policy reasons to price parking appropriately. When meters are underpriced, street parking spaces get hogged by employees, rendering them unavailable for customers. Similarly, free evening parking in commercial districts will often be used by neighborhood residents, which again, makes the spaces unavailable for restaurant patrons. Appropriately priced parking will ensure at least some empty spaces at all times, which of course benefits commercial districts by relieving the congestion caused by people circling around or idling in the street waiting for a space. At-large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan has offered a presentation from High Cost of Free Parking author Donald Shoup outlining some of his work on parking rates (PDF) to inject some much-needed context into the conversation.

Kernighan, of course, acknowledges that there may be legitimate policy reasons to charge more for parking or extend meter hours, but argues that this summer’s changes were made hurridly, and for the wrong reasons (PDF):

There was very little notice to the public of the parking changes…

The problem in this case is that the parking policies that were proposed by City Administration and adopted by the Council were enacted with the sole objective of increasing revenue to the City.

With respect to Councilmember Kernighan, I can’t help but see these claims as a bit of an attempt to revise history. Last weekend, I spent more than seven hours re-watching Council and Committee discussions from earlier this year about changes to parking policies. There were a number of suggestions from staff that the Council declined to adopt, fearing (I personally think, incorrectly) negative impacts to businesses, including peak-hour pricing in certain areas, raising the expired meter ticket fine, and running parking meters on Sunday. They agreed to revisit the measures they did adopt in the fall, once the city had some time to evaluate the way the changes were impacting businesses. And no less than five Councilmembers spoke forcefully at various points about how different aspects of the parking policy changes were sorely needed in their districts.

So although Kernighan was unsupportive of most measures throughout the discussions – from the peak hour pricing to the proposed fine increased for parking at a bus stop to increased enforcement of many violations in neighborhoods – I do not think it is accurate to pretend that nobody had any reason besides revenue to support their decisions. Furthermore, with discussions taking place at many meetings over a period of nearly two months, it is hard to say that there was no public notice of what was being considered. At least two Councilmembers sent multiple messages about the proposed changes to their e-mail lists. If others didn’t, well, they should have. In any case, I see no logical reason why we can’t wait to review the policies until we have actual data about their impact, as was planned all along.

But let’s put good transportation policy aside for a moment. What this really comes down to is what our priorities are as a City. After all, parking is hardly the only thing Oaklanders are paying more for because of the new budget. At the Oakland Public Library, cardholders used to be able to print five pages a day for free, and had to pay 10 cents per page after that. Now, patrons get no pages for free, and have to pay 15 cents per page. Altogether, the cost to print out five pieces of paper for an Oakland resident with no other access to the internet rose from 0 cents to 75 cents. (For those of you who own your own printers and don’t have to deal with these things, that is more than it costs at most copy stores.) The pain of this extra expense for these people, among the neediest in our community, is surely more than that felt by someone who has to dump $2 into a parking meter to go out for a $100 dinner. But the type of people suffering because of these decisions don’t own their own personal billboards.

That’s, of course, just one of many possible examples. Consider, below, one of many possible lists of things that were cut in June’s budget that also add up to $1.3 million, the amount we would lose by rolling back the meter hours.

  • Branch library hours reduced by 17.4%: $0.42 million
  • Eliminate funding for Senior Shuttle: $0.18 million
  • Ground OPD helicopter: $0.25 million
  • Elminate 4 positions from IT department related to Public Safety, troubleshooting, and web support: $0.46 million

And here is a list, also adding up to $1.3 million, of cuts that were proposed, but that the Council managed to spare for the time being.

  • Close the Main Library 2 days per week: $0.12 million
  • Close the San Antonio Recreation Center: $0.09 million
  • Eliminate 4 Neighborhood Service Coordinators: $0.3 million
  • Eliminate General Fund contribution for Adult Literacy Program: $0.15 million
  • Eliminate remaining park rangers: $0.26 million
  • Pair Library branches so three branches would be open only 2 days/week and three branches would only be open 3 days/week: $0.38 million

I find it tremendously, overwhelmingly sad to think that free parking means more, to both the City Council, and to Oakland residents, than all of this. The idea that of all the things that changed in the new budget (library closures, decimating losses to the IT department, abandoning maintenance of a huge number of the cities parks, etc.) the absolute worst one, the one thing so bad that we have to rush to take it back, is asking people to pay parking meters for two extra hours a day. Forget all the sweet talk about prioritizing safety and services – the Council’s decision tonight will show us what we honestly think our core functions are.

40 thoughts on “What is free parking worth to you?

  1. Jim T

    Ooh, just thinking about this makes my blood boil. I really wish I could make the meeting to tell the council exactly what you’ve excellently laid out.

    The irony here is that with all this regional media attention, the Council had a chance to highlight a GOOD thing about Oakland. Namely, that we are a progressive city that recognizes that reactivating our core urban areas will not happen by giving away public space to the automobile.

  2. Anca

    Thanks for taking the time to put all of this in context. I think that if we had had a chance to vote on HOW to raise the 1.3 million, many of us would have voted to do just what the city council did – raise parking fees and hours.

    However, for many of us, the point was driven home not by the news, or an update about the decisions that had to be made. It was driven home by a $55 ticket. That’s pretty upsetting, especially for the unprepared.

    Looking forward to hearing about what gets decided at the meeting tonight.

  3. Ralph

    Excellent post. I emailed NN, RK, and PK. I am debating going down to speak, but this looks like it could be a long evening.

    Yikes losing my internet feed is not good. Is the council mtg on tv?

  4. Becks

    Ralph – You should go! I would be there, except that I came down with a terrible cold. The item still hasn’t come up. My guess is that it won’t come up until after 9pm so you have some time to make it down there.

    You can watch the council on TV if you have cable – it’s on KTOP channel 10.

  5. oakie

    I’m happy to see a rebellion against the increased parking rates, enforcement hours, fines and aggressiveness of enforcement. Unfortunately, it’s misplaced on the nitpicking over a stinking $1.3M, instead of the bloated state of the city’s coffers and insatiable hunger to spend more in total. The city spent $1B last year, now down to $800M this year and I don’t think we get our money’s worth. The insane parking rates (compared to any neighboring city, even including Berkeley(!)) is just an indicator of how out of whack things are here.

    But for the nitpickers, I would suggest a very easy way to REDUCE the city’s expenditures by a sufficient amount: reduce the salary and expense account for Mayor Sleepy to what it was just 3 years ago when we had Mayor Dopey. Eliminate the mayor’s limousine and driver, and free parking for the council members and give them all AC Transit passes. Eliminate any free pariking for any city employee and let them pay for it or take mass transit like the rest of us poor slobs.

    Well, at least that’s a start to pay down the parking rates. And note who benefits from higher parking rates and longer enforcement hours: not just neighboring cities (which are also much safer, especially at night) but also all those big box stores that have lots and lots of free parking. Like Walmart. They must have been giddy at the excellent work of the city council.

    Thomas Jefferson said that government should be frugal and wise. Our city government is neither.

  6. Ralph

    Ah channel 10. Got it. It shows up as GA so I kept bypassing it when trying to find KTOP. I did manage to get the stream running again. Got my coat and running shoes on, I am ready to roll.

  7. MarleenLee

    When analyzing the intent of legislation, courts/lawyers review the background documentation, context, and most importantly the verbiage of the associated resolution. The background report and resolution changing the parking rates came up in the context of the budget. The various findings and verbiage in the resolution contain no references to any reports or studies on the use of parking rates as a method for controlling traffic and turnover, the impact on local businesses, or rates in neighboring cities. Had such studies been conducted (as they clearly have been in other cities) and had the parking rates not been increased for the purpose of balancing the budget, and had the City managed its finances more carefully, we wouldn’t have had this whole brouhaha.

    But lots of people think that innocent citizens, some of whom really do feel the financial impact of the increased meter rates/increased hours, are being forced to pay for the sins of their leaders. And I think they are justifiably upset. The idea was half baked. And I know more than most people in this City about what can happen when the City goes full steam ahead with an idea that is half baked just because it is desperate for money. Penny wise, pound foolish. The businesses who are citing a dramatic drop in business cannot all be hallucinating. The people who are stating that they have decided to patronize businesses elsewhere cannot all be lying. If the City leaders fail to acknowledge their constituencies, and the City ultimately loses revenue (as opposed to gains revenue) as a result of the parking meter changes, that’s what really matters.

    The idea of raising money by fining abusers of handicapped spaces has great appeal. I have no idea if this is possible, because the regulation of handicapped placards is a state law. I’m not sure whether such a proposal would actually raise money, or how much. But it is totally understandable that people think the City should have made more of an attempt to get the “bad actors” to pick up more of the tab here. Listing all of the other services that could get cut as a result is not persuasive to me. The City really needs to be more creative in addressing its budget woes. I’m no expert here, but I have seen examples of tremendous waste and mismanagement, and this is where the focus should be. Okay, that’s enough for now – I’m going to watch the fur fly on KTOP!!

  8. len raphael

    re handicapped placard abuse, nadel made a good point: other than checking that the placard is registered to the parked occupant, there is no other checking an oakland employee can do or should be allowed to do.

    the other day i got into a minor dispute when i parked way too close to an suv with placard parked in a handicapped zone. i recently injured my foot and had wanted to park close to entrance to a store to minimize walking. the handicapped occupant was just behind me at the checkout counter but briskly walked back to the parking area as i limped slowly to my car. they proceeded to berate me for blocking their handicapped access.

    for all i know the occupant had a heart transplant but they had the placard and i didn’t.

    according to my doc, the state audits a sample of doctors for backup documentation on handicapped permits. sounded like he might have gotten in trouble previously.

  9. John G

    As long as you don’t plan any evening entertainment activities before 7:00 PM that last 61 minutes or more, you’ll hardly notice the change. Personally, I never take more than 15 minutes to eat a $100 dinner so I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

  10. dto510

    I really don’t understand what’s so hard to grasp about paying $2-$4 to park your car in the evening. Ever been to San Francisco? Bay Street? Jack London Square? Parking isn’t free – in this case, it costs over a million dollars a year. V spells out above exactly what that means. Even the free parking advocates last night were hushed in their defeat, after hearing exactly how expensive their request was.

  11. Naomi Schiff

    I do think the 7 pm idea is the right way to go. That way you pay your two bucks (should you start your evening before 7) and avoid having to run out to avoid a ticket.

    I would again timidly suggest: 7 to 7. That way the early coffee patrons would have to put in a quarter if they park to pick up their java, it is true, but it would be really easy to remember since both numbers the same, city would have some more income, though would have to make up some of it, and I don’t think Mr. Michaan could object since he doesn’t really run a lot of movies 5-7.

  12. livegreen

    7 to 7 sounds like a good idea.

    I have to agree with V & DTO. The penny smart and pound foolish aren’t the political leaders but those who get tickets at meters because they forgot to put in enough time. It’s easy to blame others and project responsibility onto others, or even onto the business owners (a la “I’ll never shop again here because I got a ticket”. Well gee that’s really vindictive and irresponsible).

    On the other hand I’ve heard from some people I trust that the ticket-enforcement is not being fair, and are often ticketing people who haven’t done anything wrong. & that has both got to stop, along with ticketing on parking on the sidewalk on narrow streets. Quite frankly it’s stupid & counterproductive for the City, as it forces justifiably upset residents ally with those who are whiners and irresponsible.

    I really can’t believe we’re arguing over $2 for an evening of parking. Esp. when the free parking that Mr. Michaan seeks is right across the street under 580, and one need not drive all the way to Walnut Creek.

    The complainers over the meters in the merchant areas (as opposed to the other ticketing I’ve mentioned) are not only penny wise and pound foolish. They are selfish and not willing to address the bigger problems of Oakland. They’re the reason Oakland has so many problems…

    That said, I do believe in compromise. Make it 7pm and let’s move on for god’s sake.

  13. Ralph

    i really don’t get why the 8pm doesn’t work. It hasn’t stopped people from dining on College, Grand, and Broadway. And I definitely don’t understand how $2 – $4 is an imposition on $150 dinner.

    I object to a 7 – 7 policy because you are trying to solve a revenue problem not implement a sound transportation/parking policy. On the two streets I’ve frequented that early in the morning, there are very few parked / temporarily parked cars. I suspect so are overnight holdovers. Now city council will just annoy them but it is a smaller set of the residents.

    I guess I am fan of a well thought out parking policy that meets a stated objective. Just changing the hours to appease the angry electorate doesn’t make sense to me. Watching council trying to find money and to have some actually believe that cracking down on HC placards and adding advertising revenue is going to win the day made me weep for leadership.

    I’ve no idea what council used for r/e tax revenue but I have to assume those numbers are going to come in much lower as every property owner is fighting their assessed value.

    Council once asked what are the core functions, I think they need to answer this question first and then implement policies that facilitate this until they do this we will continue to see the type of cut here, slice there chop there budgeting that we have seen in the past.

  14. livegreen

    I agree in principal Ralph. However politics is the art of compromise, and the City & it’s citizens (including the illogical ones) have better things to do than let this dominate the news. Again I agree, but it’s time to work something out and move on.

    Now on to Economic Development, Crime & Education. OPD #’s are shrinking fast, and we need more jobs of both blue collar and white collar vintage. OFCY funded programs are also an upcoming subject….

  15. Tony

    I expected a vocal and angry crowd at the CC meeting, but am still amazed how crazy it was last night. The applause and cheers after Mr. Michaan’s nutty diatribe was way over the top.

    Yes, we should resolve this and move on to more important issues.

  16. Naomi Schiff

    My thinking was that 7 pm would work better for the restaurant/diner and early-moviegoer conundrum. I don’t care that much about the 7 am suggestion, but it seemed to me that 7 to 7 would be easy to comprehend and remember. I agree Traffic Eng. should study parking demand but that really will take a bit of time and staff. CC members are being stampeded by all this hysteria and there is nothing more reactive than your average officeholder. It is hard to withstand all the caterwauling, especially if one’s spine is a bit too flexible anyhow.

    Mostly the debacle was a pr failure. Real missed opportunity to explain why and how, and when and to make things really clear. The sensible thing would have been to do some phase-in or warning program for a few weeks, before going on a ticketing spree. Not to mention putting big labels on all meters, and clarifying what the rule is on yellow curb spaces (an answer I still don’t know). They should have printed up warning notes that were non-tickets, saying “Due to City of Oakland budget shortfalls, paid meter time is now until 8 pm. This notice is a warning, and a request for your help in letting people know about the new rules. It is not a citation. As of ____date, City of Oakland will be enforcing the new times, and parking fines will be assessed at $55.)

    There is no way we should ask meter enforcement folks to risk their lives by enquiring as to people’s individual medical eligibility for disabled parking placards. That job doesn’t pay enough to be worth the rage and attack you would have to withstand. The best we can do on that is a propaganda campaign of some kind, in which we make it a social pressure thing not to use a disabled placard inappropriately. Which would have a 10% effectiveness at best. It’s a statewide problem.

  17. Jack

    To Ralph and others regarding the cost of parking. Its not the 2$ that is a big deal its the $55 ticket . Living in fear of getting one and having to interrupt what ever you are doing just to feed the meter…

    To DTO ever been to Palo Alto or Santa Monica? They have free parking.

    How about charging for bike parking? LOL

  18. len raphael

    interesting that many of the participants here can’t understand the rage against the city parking changes, think the opponents are nuts, uninformed, manipulated, selfish, stupid, car centric, or just annoyed by “lack of communication”.

    first thought i had was that many of the participants here don’t share the belief of opponents of the parking changes that they expect nothing and get nothing from the city of oakland in return for fines and taxes.

    but its more that most of the participants here are critical of city service quality and actually have higher expectations of city govt than most oaklanders.

    supporters on this site see this as a means to the end of reducing car centric city, that you’re pleased with the changes, if not the implementation.

    typical residents accepted oakland mediocrity right up to the tipping point where the city visibly and frequently reached deeper into their pockets to cover the cost of services many people felt they never benefited from in the first place.

    no amount of communication will change that perception. cynicism about oakland govt got a big boost.

    if you’re trying to organize/educate oakland residents to improve their city government, you have to put yourself into their shoes and delay some of the higher goals of improving city life.

  19. dave o

    The real issue is a city-gov culture of meanspiritedness that exists in Oakland. The parking issue is a kind of lightening rod for long building resentments. Why are the OPD systematically destroying black cultural venues? Why all the lying and brutality from the police? Why does the building department barrage ordinary Oaklanders with contrived fees while rich people get a free ride or handouts? Why does the fire department go around intimidating people and ruining their lives? Are they now a judge/jury/executioner arm of the police? If you want to know how a gov should function, look at Curitiba, Brazil. They didn’t wage a war on drivers, they created a bus system that was so efficient and comfortable, that people preferred to leave their cars behind. They paid poor people to collect trash. Oakland fines people for dumping garbage when those people have no viable economic way to get rid of it. Oakland works against it’s citizens, not with them. Oakland sees itself as a stern father punishing it’s naughty children. Oakland does not know how to support it’s own citizens. That is why there is so much rage against the city government.

  20. me

    i think dave o is right – it is the catalyst for anger rather than the reason. sure it is an inconvenience but there are so many problems with oakland that have not been addressed… especially in east oakland.

  21. len raphael

    a victory for rational parking management achieved thru the backdoor of balancing the budget is paternalist “swallow this cod liver oil because it’s good for you” approach.

    you can prove the ultimate value of raising parking prices but the timing and the implementation of this legislation hardened typical resident’s attitude that oakland govt exists to serve itself and organized groups of poor people. that attitudes reduces the civic participation that we will need to make more important changes to oakland govt.

  22. V Smoothe

    What “backdoor balancing the budget”? I have said this over and over again, and I don’t understand why people refuse to accept it, but despite what people seem to want to think, this was not last minute, it was not backdoor, and it was not done at random. Hours and hours of public meeting time over a period of months were spent discussing these things.

    And Len, the people I saw and listened to at Tuesday’s meeting irate about the parking meters were clearly beyond hope as far as ever contributing productively to civic life goes, regardless of what Oakland does with its parking meters.

  23. Ralph

    Jack, the actual ticket price has not gone up. It was $45 before July and $45 after July. The city added state fees that it had previously absorbed. San Francisco did the same thing. Quite honestly, I don’t think it either right or reasonable for the city and its residents to incur the state fee. I did not overstay my park, DTO did not over stay his park, Little Jimmy first-grader did not overstay his park, the guy riding the bus did not overstay his park, etc, yet your are asking the city to absorb the fee. I haven’t done the math on what that fee adds up to over a year but it probably saved more than a few jobs.

    (Santa Monica parking is far from free. you can park on the street but if your car is a fraction of an inch into a red zone, driveway, or other no parking zone expect a ticket and they are an overzealous bunch of ticketers)

    len, i do not like paying taxes and fines anymore than the next person and will fight tooth and nail to lower my taxes because I think that the city has done a poor job managing my money. I drive across street that look like 1983 Beirut. I walk on sidewalks that are dangerously uneven. So no on paying more taxes. I don’t want to give the city more tax dollars until they can demonstrate that they can do something with what I have given them.

    I feel somewhat different about fines. A fine is the price of doing something wrong. It should be high enough to discourage people from doing the wrong activity. In Palo Alto and in SF there are some intersection with $300+ tickets for running a red light, just a couple yrs ago the fine was $200+ but it was not discouraging behavior. In Oakland businesses need parking for patrons, but if parking is constantly occupied by people who don’t think they will get a ticket for parking past the paid time, then where are new patrons to park? If a $55 ticket hurts then maybe one shouldn’t overstay their paid time. I don’t have $55 to waste and I suspect that others don’t either. As a parking ticket is avoidable, it is hard for me to be sympathetic.

    That being said, I think there is a way to appease the fined. Use parking fines to make improvements in the district where the fine was incurred. This way it becomes visible to all.

    Finally, unless you are the poorest of the poor you rarely see your tax dollar at work. Your best bet is to hope for clean and safe streets and on that measure council has probably failed. But if you do not expect and demand some measure of leadership and forward thinking from elected leaders you will continue to get mediocre results.

  24. len raphael

    V, the backdoor part wasn’t raising the budget balancing, that was upfront and well publicized. My point was that parking and vehicular management should have been planned and discussed completely independently of the city’s short term revenue benefits in order to educate residents, “raise their consciousness” on this and future transportation issues that will come or should be brought up.

    if you can’t persuade residents of the intrinsic value of better parking management to their quality of life, getting it this way encourages the cynicism of residents about their government. sure some or even many of the most vocal protesters have never spoken up before on broader city issues and never will again. but to dismiss many of them as crazies or stupid is miss the roots of the cynicism of residents who didn’t show up to complain. it is a self perpetuating cynicism in which the city government normally makes policy decisions which the residents don’t scrutinize but only bitch about after the fact.

    if the council had rolled over and rolled back the meter hours it would have had a minor fiscal effect, minor transportation impact, but have encouraged normal residents to take action in the future.

  25. jarichmond

    I don’t understand why so many people are whining about having to go out and check the meter during dinner. The city already made it 3 hour parking after 5pm for all the metered spots, right? Then if you’re doing dinner and a movie somewhere, pay for the full 3 hours time and forget about it! Or, in the case of either Grand or Lakeshore, park in the big, free lots.

    I will say that I agree with the people who would like to have seen warning tickets, particularly for the neighborhood parking enforcement like the parking the wrong direction in the hills. At least that would have been a better PR approach.

    Ultimately, though, for the ones being so obnoxious about this whole debate, I see it as being a bit like the people yelling at the health care town halls. No matter how many times you point out reasonable facts to them, the people demanding free parking everywhere are never going to change their minds.

  26. dto510

    I understand that the metermaids did give out warnings for two weeks, but clearly that wasn’t enough. In retrospect, they should have given warnings for a month (though that would of course, cost money). The parking rules changed at a time when parking demand and use was at its lowest (mid-July). I and other pedestrian advocates including some of the commenters here complained about inadequate parking signage earlier this year when arguing against building a parking lot.

    This is a really good discussion. I know that some of the Council want to reverse the parking regulations, even though they understand that they are in the end a pretty decent way to manage parking demand, just to signal that they care, and I disagree with the cost of that approach. That doesn’t mean I don’t think this is a teachable moment – all of us can continue advocating for better and better-implemented city policies.

    Maybe we can take some of this $400k CMs Brunner, Kernighan and Quan found, and use it to expand KTOP’s bandwidth?

  27. len raphael

    jr, yup there are shared qualities to the health care town hall catfights. but where you see only the negative aspects of the protesters at both types of meetings, i see there are also legitimate policy differences and populist resentment at having legislation pushed thru without adequate public discussion and disclosure and hard as it might be an extrodinary attempt effort to reach consensus.

  28. len raphael

    funny to hear the cc member (Pat K?) complain about the speed and enthusiasm with which the Parking Enforcement people took their marching orders to raise fees/fines. what were they thinking Parking people would do when their fellow employees are getting laid off or furloughed, and when the Parking dept also has a chance to increase its own resources.

    -len raphael

  29. Drunk Engineer

    If Oakland follows Dr. Shoup’s parking methods (which it should), then the correct course of action is reduction of parking fees.

    There are two key components in Shoup’s methodology:
    1. Parking revenue is returned to the business district
    2. Parking fees are set at market price level to keep regular turnover of parking slots

    The city didn’t do #1. Council made clear the purpose of the increase was to fund programs completely unrelated to the needs of merchants in the district.

    With regard to #2, it isn’t clear that a parking shortgage even exists. At least, that has been my experience in the admitedly few times I drive there (particularly during the hours in question).

    Finally, it is never a good idea to use the municipal court system as a means of revenue enhancement. When council says they intend to raise parking fees, they aren’t talking about $2/hr meter revenue (which doesn’t even cover costs of collection). They mean parking fines and even more overzealous enforcement. There is an inherent conflict of interest when meter maids operate purely out of profit motive, instead of facilitating the flow of traffic.

    Ultimately, if overzealous enforcement drives out established business, that doesn’t help anyone — esp. if it drives business out to parking malls where the only traffic patrols are rent-a-cops making sure patron cars aren’t vandalized.

  30. Robert

    dto, your suggestion of using the possibly increased parking revenue identified by the cc members not to replace a revenue decrease from rolling back the meters but to fund something totally unrelated is symptomatic of some of the reasons that large segments of the population of Oakland are highly cynical of city government. I think that V made a somewhat similar sugggestion of using the revenue for other purposes. In good faith, members of the business community came up with suggestions to try and back fill the loss of revenue and are you now thinking that it is totally appropriate to take (steal) that money from drivers and use it to fund some other pet projects. With that sort of attitude from you, V, and I am sure many others, why do you think that we don’t trust the council.

  31. Robert

    I found it almost ludacris that some members of council were saying that we shouldn’t roll back parking hours or rates until we had completed a parking management study. I fully agree that the study should be done, but it should have been done before the rates/hours were increased. Now it is being used as nothing but an excuse continue to collect the fees for as long as possible. AS the traffic engineer mentioned, it would only take a week or so to collect the data from the kiosks to figure out what the parking occupancy is at different times of the day and in different locations. I suspect that DE is correct, when the study is actually completed, they will find out that parking is overpriced by Shoup’s model is many areas of the city. Want to bet about cc reducing parking rates in those ares below the $2.00, or even lower if warranted?

    Any business would have been monitoring from the day the meter rates were increased to see if revenue was tracking to expectations. This is one of the very first things that has to be done to see if the meters are priced correctly, and is needed for the report in the fall that was requested by cc back in June about the impacts of the rate increases. There is no indication that city staff is doing any such thing.

  32. len raphael

    on the oac, was there ever a survey of potential customers re how likely they would ride a ground based system with a few stops vs the oac? was talking to an sf cabby yesterday who explained that he almost gets fares to the sf airport anymore because of a combo of the recession and the sf bart connector.

    as insanely cost ineffective the oac is, i can just picture typical suit with carry on bag clutched white knuckled tight as the bus stops in east o, with the commuter staring out the window and the residents of east o staring in. maybe the best solution is nothing until east o improves on its own.

  33. Robert

    len, I hadn’t thought about it, but is the reason that the want an elevated OAC is so that people going to the airport don’t actually have to see Oakland?

    The business types flying out of OAK aren’t taking BART, they are taking cabs, limos and driving. All far more time efficient, and when you are on an expense account, the cost doesn’t matter. You see the same thing with BART to SFO, it isn’t business types using it.

  34. len raphael

    rbt, i asked my sample of one sf cabbie that question, and his response was that it was particularly the business traveler with briefcase and one carryone that had switched to using the sf bart, much less so the travelers with multiple pieces of luggage.

    under shoup’s theory, what would the reason be to reduce parking fees in areas where there is plenty of avail parking? doubt if it would have any effect on usage there? eg stretches of upper bway are empty now of parked cars and would continue to be empty if parking were free.

  35. Robert

    Shoup’s model, in simple terms, is that parking should be priced so that about 15% of the spots are empty at any given time. So if there are more empty spots than that, parking is priced too high, and should come down. Another way to think about it is that parking close to your destination, say downtown, should be priced higher because it is more convenient, and parking further away, upper Broadway, should be cheaper. Same strategy they use at a lot of event parking. In the current state, free, unlimited time parking in upper Broadway is likely cheaper for the city than meters, since they would not have collection and enforcement costs anymore.

    I have not actually taken the train all the way to SFO, but my random observations in SF suggested that there were fair numbers of tourist types with luggage, and very few business looking types. But your cabbie could be right, although I am not sure how he knows either.

  36. SF2OAK

    I believe the argument “What is free parking worth to you” is false- it is not a trade off between parking and other services. The city could choose to raise the money in other ways- how about another tax that citizens have to vote on (yes fat chance of it passing but wouldn’t that be democratic? Or other expenditures could be reduced leaving money for these expenditures which you have cited.

    In the last string of posts which got horrendously long regarding the Michaan recall there were many who were sticklers regarding parking tickets.

    Here is a clip from a recent Montclarion,”…
    Indeed, a meter on 29th Street yielded the expected results: 15 minutes for 50 cents paid. But another meter registered 20 minutes for 50 cents. A meter nearby on 28th and Summit ran out 20 seconds early after three tries. The next meter took 25 cents but only registered two minutes and the time ran out 30 seconds early.

    Farther down, at 24th Street, a meter leaning about a foot toward the ground took two quarters but provided only two minutes. “Shake it real well and a ‘fail’ sign will pop up,” said Jack Perialas, who lives nearby. But the quarters were gone — a dilemma if motorists run out of change.”

    I wonder is that meter handicap accessible? If the city is not going to give you a grace period shouldn’t they be held to the same standard by providing accurate meters?

    I have also complained about the absurd complaint procedure- I received a ticket in Dec 08, I believe it was issued in error and appealed that decision, now almost 11 months later they have denied my appeal citing no actual reason. Of course I will appeal by mail again but the city demands you respond to them in 21 days, or the fines actually go up astronomically (it actually makes banks look kind) they double after 21 days and go up from there even.

    To Oakie:

    You are correct. In fact the redevelopment agency is buying large tracts in order to put big box stores with free and ample parking.

    I am copying your quote just so everybody sees it again.
    Thomas Jefferson said that government should be frugal and wise. Our city government is neither.