Although attendees at the West Berkeley Project Area Commission meeting Thursday night were divided on the issue of the open-air market, they agreed that parking is a problem.
In 1998, the PAC conducted a study that showed the Fourth Street area lacked 600 parking slots, “a number which has probably increased since then” says Commission Chair Bart Selden. How to address this shortage is on everyone’s minds, ranging from a potential parking garage to the possible paving of one of Berkeley’s last dirt roads - Second Street.
However, proponents of a parking garage in the Fourth Street area may be dropping their plans. Denny Abrams, a partner of Abrams/ Millikan & Associates, said: “Though we need a parking garage, it seems there is no political will. People keep calling this proposal a subsidy, and we can’t get past that. I don’t know if I’m willing to spend a year a half of my life trying to get something that there is no will to accomplish.”
The Berkeley City Council, sitting as the Redevelopment Agency, which holds final approval for a city-subsidized garage, has already indicated that such a use of funds would be untenable.
Owen Maercks, owner of the Fifth Street East Bay Vivarian said that parking has gotten so bad, that if a market is built the added cars will exacerbate an already “terrible parking situation.”
“This could be the straw that breaks my back. This could be what forces me to move my business out of here. That’s how bad the parking situation is,” said Maercks.