Metered parking changes launch Tuesday in Berkeley

The city-sponsored goBerkeley campaign is based on the concept of demand-responsive pricing. Image: City of Berkeley

The city-sponsored goBerkeley campaign is based on the concept of demand-responsive pricing. Click to view larger. Image: City of Berkeley

After months of outreach and planning, new parking meter rules designed to change business-as-usual in three commercial districts in Berkeley go into effect Tuesday, Oct. 15.

The changes, under the moniker goBerkeley, are designed to make it easier for drivers to find parking spaces in three of the city’s busiest commercial areas, and to cut down on pollution associated with circling to find a spot. The city says it hopes goBerkeley will make it easier for visitors “to dine, shop and enjoy the arts in three of the City’s most vibrant districts,” according to a statement released by officials last week.

The goBerkeley model is based on the concept of “demand-responsive” pricing, so that prices reflect demand in several congested areas around town. The hope is to free up one or two spaces per block, by raising or adjusting the pricing in a way that will encourage some of the people currently filling spaces to move a bit farther away or use alternative modes of transportation. The city has been studying current parking demand, and plans to analyze how the changes affect behavior.

“If it does what we hope it will – increase parking while decreasing pollution and traffic – the impact is huge,” said city spokesman Matthai Chakko. 

The three areas slated to see changes are downtown Berkeley, southside and The Elmwood. The changes that begin Tuesday, Oct. 15, will last for at least a year, with more data collection and reviews scheduled in 2014. Parking days and hours are not set to change at this time.

In both downtown and southside — south of campus around Telegraph Avenue — changes were designed to allow longer time limits in a new “value” parking zone, to in turn create more available spaces in the “premium” higher-demand zone closer to central destinations. (See the map above for details and view a flier about the new rates and zones here.)

Parking in the premium zone will be allowed for two hours at most, and cost $2.25 per hour. A 4-hour-maximum value zone west of downtown will cost $1.25 an hour, and an 8-hour-maximum value zone southeast of campus — at College Avenue where it hits Channing Way, Haste Street and Dwight Way — will cost just $1 an hour.

Metered parking around The Elmwood under the goBerkeley plan. Image: City of Berkeley

Metered parking around The Elmwood under the goBerkeley plan. (Click to view larger.) Image: City of Berkeley

The program will work a bit differently in The Elmwood.

City staff established a premium zone around College Avenue, from Webster Street north to Russell Street, with a three-hour limit that costs more for each consecutive hour of parking. The first hour costs $1.50, the second $2 and the third $2.50.

City transportation planners said, ultimately, the goal would be to lower prices in city-owned parking garages to boost the incentive to use them. The hourly rate inside city-owned garages could eventually go down to $1 per hour to spur people to use them more, but that depends in part on the city’s loan commitments for the garages, city officials said earlier this year.

“The goal is to free up 1 to 2 spaces on every block and make it easier to find parking – reducing frustration and traffic as well as pollution from circling drivers. People already come to these Berkeley districts by bike, bus, BART, foot and car. Now, each of those modes should be even easier – creating a balance that allows all to move more freely,” according to a statement from the city.

The program also paid for 1,000 AC Transit Easy Passes and secured City CarShare business discounts to area workers for one year as a way to encourage traveling without a personal car.

The program is funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Climate Initiatives Program ($2 million); the Federal Highways Administration’s Value Pricing Pilot Program ($900,000), and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District ($100,000).

The city’s partners in the endeavor include the Downtown Berkeley Association, Telegraph Business Improvement District and Elmwood Merchants Association, as well as AC Transit, City CarShare and TransForm.

For more information, visit

goBerkeley parking rules get final public review (for now) (08.08.13)
2 goBerkeley public meetings on parking coming up (07.31.13)
Details unveiled on proposed metered parking changes (07.03.13)
City sets goBerkeley transportation program in motion (06.27.13)
Berkeley council weighs in on parking pilot program (06.12.13)
Parking changes slated for 3 Berkeley business zones (05.23.13)
goBerkeley answers frequently asked questions (City of Berkeley)
Take the goBerkeley parking survey (goBerkeley)

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  • Yoni Mayeri

    TMI, it’s confusing. I just want to park the car.

  • bondolo

    Make sure to bring at least two coins–despite being $1.50 an hour you can’t pay with a single quarter. You must buy at least 12 minutes for $0.30. This annoyance brought to you by the addition of credit card processing in parking meters….

  • serkes

    Signage is really clear … how un-Berkeley can they be?


  • Yoni Mayeri

    Thanks Ira, I have not seen these signs yet, just the small hard to read map signs around town. I was at the Shattuck Ave Sunday Streets event this past Sunday and missed them. Guess I was looking at other things! I’ll be sure to check it out!

  • emraguso

    I know this has come up at City Council a couple times and I think they were going to try to do something to address it, but I can’t recall what the outcome was. It’s definitely something that frustrates a lot of people.

  • Joe Scanlon

    This is a totally hare-brained idea. Different rates at different meters around town are only going to confuse and irritate people. I work downtown and have a monthly parking card, but if I did not, the higher and varying rates would make the difference between my deciding whether to shop in Berkeley as opposed to Oakland or Walnut Creek. As a shopper, I will always opt for the simple, hassle-free, and economical choice.

  • Completely_Serious

    I hate it when City Hall tells me what to do.

  • Rob Wrenn

    “The hourly rate inside city-owned garages could eventually go down to $1 per hour to spur people to use them more, but that depends in part on the city’s loan commitments for the garages, city officials said earlier this year.”

    It’s too bad they didn’t fix the overly complicated rates in the city garages. Center Street has rates that are in effect from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and different rates starting at 11 a.m.. Why not just $1 an hour for the first two or four hours regardless of when you enter? Right now, after 11 a.m., it’s $1 for the first hour; $2 for the second; $3 for the third; $4 for the fourth. These rates are also in effect for the Oxford parking lot. Both Oxford and Center Street lots are located in the zone with premium on-street rates. If it was just $1 in the garage; $2.25 on the street, that would be clear and people who value saving money over having the most convenient space would choose the garage. I don’t understand why the city can’t use some of the increased revenue from prime on-street spaces to replace any revenue from garage spaces lost from having a $1 rate. Couldn’t they meet loan commitments that way? Does the money have to come from garage revenues only?

  • Matthai K. Chakko

    That’s incorrect. You can pay at any meter with a single nickel.

  • Alice

    I do not go to or shop in Berkeley just because of their antagonistic parking rules! I bet others feel the same way.

  • tenjen

    Matthai, isn’t that what bondolo is saying? I have also been annoyed to put a quarter into a meter and realize it won’t buy me even one minute–I have to add a nickel to reach the 30-cent minimum.

  • emraguso

    That’s great news — I think that will make a lot of people happy if that’s working properly.

  • Slash

    Berkeley seems to have the problem that one one hand, it does have a parking in short supply being in a university town. On the other hand, unfortunately it doesn’t help that there are many neighboring communities (eg Emeryville, el cerrito) where it’s easy to park and shop. Most big cities have enough demand from foot traffic/ public trans, etc. that high rates for scarce parking isn’t an issue.

  • David D.

    Not really. The SFPark program in San Francisco is similar and has worked out quite well IMO. Driving to Walnut Creek to avoid Berkeley’s parking meters is an expensive solution to a cheap problem. There are certainly reasons to shop in WC–the existence of department stores, for example–but parking meters ain’t one of ’em. (Anyway, there are parking meters in WC too…)

  • twill monkey

    What would be a real help would be to have the individual spaces clearly marked and give citations for stupid drivers who take up two spaces. Two citations–one because they haven’t paid for one of the spots they’re occupying, and one because they parked in two spots. It would also be helpful to have signs on the yellow zones with the time allowed for the drivers with a business sticker. I’ve gotten tickets for parking for 20 minutes and also 15 minutes in the same area of downtown…and asked the meter readers who give different answers for the time allowed.

  • hullpv

    But parking meters (or the lack of parking meter spaces) *IS* one reason (in addition to the fact that, except for the 4th St area, freeway access to Berkeley’s shopping districts is poor compared to El Cerrito, Oakland, Emeryville, and San Leandro.

  • Nan Kron

    Tried to park at the Center Street garage today and it was full. I needed to be downtown for more than 2 hours so the 2 hour limit wouldn’t work anyway. Frankly, I avoid the area if I can and drive to Walnut Creek for shopping . A lot less hassle.

  • Michael Roberts

    You want to do something really creative and helpful to the city, drivers, and the planet? Create an app for Android and Apple phones that will help drivers find a parking space instead of driving around wasting fuel, time, and adding to congestion. With all the smart meters, this should have been a slam dunk. Wake the hell up, City Council, and join the 21st century!

  • BerkeleyPariah

    I want the city to disclose who got the 1000 free bus passes my tax dollars paid for…

  • Biker 94703

    How would you arrange things if you were in charge of parking for a day? You need to satisfy three constituencies: a) students who will park for 4 hours; b) employees who will park for 8 hours; c) shoppers who will park for 2 hours. I think you’ll find it is not an easy problem.

    Luckily, as you don’t come to Berkeley, these changes don’t affect you at all! (Me either, because I’d hit myself in the head with a hammer as soon as try to drive within 5 blocks of campus.)

  • Charles_Siegel

    This program is meant to deal with the lack of parking meter spaces and to make it more hassle-free for shoppers to park in Berkeley. To quote from the article:

    ““The goal is to free up 1 to 2 spaces on every block and make it easier
    to find parking – reducing frustration and traffic as well as pollution
    from circling drivers.”

  • Yogi Berra

    Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded!

  • Shutter

    I pay for a commercial license plate every year to take care of parking hassles in Berkeley. Thirty bucks. Yellow zones are almost always available.

  • B2B

    Yeah, that’s true Shutter, but you have to pay the $$ for the business license (plus all the other County and State fees) AND it still only buys you 23 minutes.

    But still, I feel you. I too have a business sticker.

  • B2B

    Well at least parking is still free on Sunday.

  • emraguso

    We’ve done a story on the removal of the meter minimum payment problem, in case you’re interested: