I moved from Southern California to Berkeley in 1971 to pursue graduate studies at Cal, and except for one year during my graduate work, I have lived in Berkeley ever since. I met my wife in Berkeley, and we have raised our family here. I began an engineering consulting business in Berkeley in 1978, and paid somewhat higher rents specifically to have our offices located downtown because of the excellent mass transit capabilities for me and my employees. My wife began an independent travel agent business two years ago and generally works out of the home. The main office of the agency she is affiliated with is located near our home, and she normally walks there to pick up printed tickets and brochures. My wife and I both love Berkeley and plan to live here the rest of our lives.
I am writing this letter because I am concerned that the current Draft General Plan contains a provision (Policy T-35) prohibiting spending any City funds to study the need for or construct more parking spaces over the next two years in the downtown area. As a businessperson, clients and colleagues often tell me of their reluctance to have meetings at our office because of parking difficulties. We often fax a map to people showing our office in relation to the main BART station and parking garages, but we still get numerous complaints. I am excited to see the new construction occurring downtown, along with the increased occupancy rates in existing buildings, particularly after the hardships and disarray that existed downtown in the 1970s and 1980s. However, as new shopping and entertainment opportunities have emerged, those who choose to drive downtown often encounter significant difficulties in finding a place to park, especially during the day. I believe a study of these current parking demands, as well as those that will exist as more downtown buildings are constructed, is critical to create a balanced approach to our downtown transportation demands.
I am also concerned about possible substantial increases to fees paid by those with monthly parking permits. My company has eight permits in downtown garages because we monitor construction operations at job sites throughout the Bay Area. We need to transport our testing equipment and other materials with us, and most job sites are not located near public transit. Therefore, we need access to our vehicles throughout the day. A large hike in fees would be very difficult for us to accommodate.
President /Principal Engineer