The Downtown Berkeley Association (DBA) supports a balanced approach to public transit and parking.
For the business community, the Transportation Element is one of the most significant elements of the General Plan. Access to the district by customers, visitors, and workers is critical for business vitality, and the ability to attract and retain employees.
Unfortunately, the Transportation Element as it is now written is not balanced. While we applaud language to increase the use of public transit, we cannot support a moratorium on the consideration of any new parking. Past studies in 1990 and 2000 have already shown that the Downtown needs at least 540-915 new parking spaces.
The DBA respectfully requests that the City Council recognize that some people need to drive. The health, vitality, and future of the downtown arts, civic, and business communities require that the city understand that the automobile is part of the equation. It cannot be ignored or wished away. It would be permanently damaging to the long-term well being of the many popular downtown destinations if the existing parking supply were reduced; rather it is likely that new parking must be created as many of the arts and cultural activities take place after dark when public transit is infrequent and unappealing to many people.
We hope that the adopted General Plan policies include a commitment to maintain the existing parking supply in the downtown at current levels so that there is no net loss of parking; a pledge to conduct an immediate study of visitor and shopper parking needs and supply, and act on the findings and recommendations of that parking study; and remove the language in Policy T-35 that prohibits the city from spending any city funds on efforts to increase the number of parking spaces in the Downtown for the next two years.
executive director, Downtown Berkeley Association