DAPAC Talks Parking Issues

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Friday September 08, 2006

At Wednesday’s joint meeting of the Transportation Commission and the Downtown Area Plan Advisory Committee, board members discussed and debated downtown parking in Berkeley. 

DAPAC members also rejected a short-term plan for the Downtown Berkeley BART plaza and transit area. 

An overview of the parking situation downtown was presented by David McCrossan of the IBI Group, the consultants who were appointed in July. McCrossan presented existing conditions on parking, baseline traffic conditions and an analysis of transportation-land use options. 

Board member Rob Wrenn suggested that IBI include origin-destination studies with respect to the downtown in their report to know how people who work in Berkeley get to Berkeley. 

Other board members said the UC Berkeley parking facility between Bancroft Way and Durant Avenue should be part of any evaluation of downtown Berkeley and asked the IBI Group to include it in their report. 


McCrossan informed those present that a lot more data was required to fill in the gaps in the report before IBI could make a comment on the utilization of parking space in the downtown area. He said that the firm was hopeful of getting more done in the next seven or eight months.  

Betty Deakin, current director of the UC Berkeley Transportation Center and the first chair of the Transportation Commission, held a panel discussion on parking along with Donald Shoup, professor of urban planning at UCLA. 

“I am pleased with Berkeley’s innovation of managing parking,” said Deakin, adding that more active participation was required to make it even better. “We want to have a community where people come to work, shop, and recreate. We are always in Berkeley looking for balance and dynamic land use changes. We need to think more effectively of how we can make use of our parking, of how we can make it cost-effective and environment friendly.” 

Shoup compared parking conditions in and around the UCLA, but acknowledged that parking in downtown Berkeley was much worse because of fewer spaces. 

He pointed out that one factor that was common in both cities was that there was more traffic on the street when people were looking for parking space. 

“Cruising for parking interferes with pedestrian traffic and leads to congestion and excess vehicle travel, especially during competition for curb space,” he said. 

Describing the current 24-minute parking signs in Berkeley as “more Mickey Mouse than anything else,” Shoup discussed bringing about a change in the parking meters and also talked about in-vehicle parking payments, which allow vehicle users to pay for every minute used with wireless devices. Parking occupancy sensors which wirelessly communicated to City Hall about on-street parking occupancy were also discussed as a possible option.  

Shoup also talked about adapting certain ideas from the Redwood City Parking Ordinance. 

He added that having different prices for different times of the day could be useful. “Sometimes when there is a boost in traffic, tweaking up the prices helps a bit,” he said. 

Rob Wrenn brought up the topic of sprucing up the downtown parking garages so that more people would start using them. 

“Although there’s no data to back it up, there’s a common perception that a lot of women don’t feel comfortable using them at night.” he said. “We would definitely want to discuss our capacity to build new parking garages.” 

The joint committee voted to have the city staff come back with a report on the Redwood City parking principals at the next meeting on Sept. 21. 



CD+A, the consulting firm hired by the City of Berkeley to develop a concept plan for the Downtown Berkeley BART Plaza and Transit Area, presented DAPAC with a number of transportation and urban design issues, including the incorporation of dedicated bus lanes in the study area and redesign and programming of open space areas.  

DAPAC member Lisa Stephens commented that unless there was an equivalent replacement of green space in the proposed BART plaza, she would not endorse the short term plan. Board members Jesse Arreguin and Patti Dacey agreed with her.  

The board turned down the motion to endorse the short term plan with seven members voting for, seven against and Wrenn abstaining.