Zoning Board Postpones Alta Bates Parking Violations

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday December 18, 2007

The Berkeley Zoning Adjustments Board on Thursday postponed discussing the Alta Bates Medical Center parking violations until April . 

Wendy Cosin, the city’s deputy planning director, told board members that the hospital had exceeded the regulations for neighborhood parking specified in their use permit three times in a row but had implemented mitigations which could resolve the problem. 

Alta Bates neighbors told the Planet that they did not voice their grievances at the meeting because it was meant to familiarize the board with the staff report. 

Cosin said that the annual traffic survey conducted by Alta Bates in January would give the zoning department and Alta Bates officials a chance to review the results and report them back to the board in April. 

“With each of the exceedences, Alta Bates has done something,” she said. 

“They have implemented valet parking, placed flyers on the cars so that employees know that they can’t park in the neighborhood and even worked with the police department to increase parking enforcement ... They are also considering putting parking meters in the area.” 

Last January, neighbors denounced what they said was an effort by the hospital to influence the results of the parking and traffic survey by reducing the number of employees parking in the neighborhood on the days of the survey. 

A zoning permit from the city requires Alta Bates to do a parking and traffic survey every January to monitor whether the hospital maintains the parking limit allowed by the permit. 

If too many employees park in the neighborhood, the hospital is required to take additional measures, such as moving some facilities and employees to other locations. 

The hospital is required to have its use permit reexamined by ZAB, if they exceed parking limitations the third year. 

Residents of Regent, Prince and Dana Streets—which are close to the medical center—continue to complain about what they perceive as the negligence of Parking Enforcement Officers (PEO) and the hospital staff. 

According to Bateman Mall neighbor Peter Shelton, enforcement officers often refrain from ticketing or chalking a car that is illegally parked in the neighborhood. 

“This is the kind of thing we observe that makes us believe that some PEOs are not doing their jobs,” he wrote in an e-mail to Cosin. 

“I understand there may be other forces at work that we are unaware of, but this is so obvious and so blatant, it’s just depressing.” 

Frank Chordas, another neighbor, said that he had observed a nurse parked in the space directly in front of his house rinse the blue chalk mark off her tire with a bottle of water. 

“I saw no attempt by the hospital employees to hide what they were doing,” he said.