Next time you want to park on San Pablo Avenue, make sure you have some change on hand.
San Pablo’s new parking meters—which have sparked concern among area merchants—are expected to take effect over the next two months, according to the city of Berkeley Transportation Manager Farid Javandel.
The City Council voted to approve the meters in September as part of a larger plan to help boost the city’s dwindling revenue. Although neighborhood businesses grumbled about losing customers to Albany and Emeryville, where parking on San Pablo and surrounding streets is free, they finally relented after some amount of negotiation with the city.
Merchants argued that parking meters would drive customers away in an already challenging economy. Business owners and residents alike warned city officials to proceed carefully, saying that the meters would disturb the unique cultural balance of the neighborhood.
The city addressed these concerns by revising its original plan and reducing the proposed number of relocated meters by almost 50 percent. The City Council also agreed to poll merchants to see if time limits should be changed to better serve them.
The city also informed auto repair shop owners that timed meters would not go up outside their garages, where customers often park for longer periods of time compared with other stores.
Javandel said the city started installing the meters in December and would continue the work through February.
He said half of the new meters were the single-space parking meters that had been removed in the past year and the other half came from areas in Berkeley that had been upgraded to use multi-space pay-and-display parking meters.
Javandel added that installing meters in commercial areas that already have “time-limited parking” helps with better parking management and improved parking meter revenue, which in turn funds city programs and services.
Time limits for parking will remain unchanged unless merchants on each block reach some kind of an agreement to change some or all of the time limits to 24, 30, 60 or 120 minutes, he said.
Parking fees will be $1.50 per hour, the same as in the rest of the city. Berkeley’s parking rate is lower than Oakland’s, which is $2 per hour, and San Francisco’s, which is $3.
The city will begin enforcing parking-meter payments south of University Avenue sometime later this month. The meters north of University Avenue are expected to go into effect in February.