Drivers say goBerkeley program made it easier to park

New parking meters with credit card payment options are part of the goBerkeley program. Photo: Steer Davies Gleave/goBerkeley
New parking meters with credit card payment options were part of the goBerkeley program. Photo: Steer Davies Gleave/goBerkeley

Community members will have the chance next week to weigh in about changes to paid parking in three of Berkeley’s busiest commercial districts. The changes began in 2013, and have reportedly made it easier for drivers to find spots, according to data collected by the city.

The city of Berkeley’s goBerkeley parking pilot program, which adjusted meter and parking garage rates to try to increase turnover and make it easier for visitors to park near their destinations, is set to end later this year. The Berkeley City Council will consider later this month, in a special work session, how to proceed as the 18-month program winds down.

Read more about parking issues in Berkeley.

The city has posted a survey online to give community members an easy way to offer input virtually, and will also hold two workshops next week, on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22, for those who prefer to offer views in person, and want to learn more.


Next week’s workshops are scheduled to take place Wednesday, Jan. 21, from 4-6 p.m. in the central branch of the Berkeley Public Library, 2090 Kittredge St., in the third floor community room; and Thursday, Jan. 22, from 6-8 p.m. at the library’s Claremont branch, 2940 Benvenue Ave., in the children’s section.

According to the city, the aim of goBerkeley was “to make it easier to travel to our most vibrant commercial districts,” and also cut down greenhouse gas emissions and congestion caused by drivers circling for a spot. It was based on the philosophy of demand-responsive pricing, meaning the spots in the core areas cost more and had more stringent time limits than those on the outskirts of the pilot districts.

Drivers surveyed by city staff said they parked much less in surrounding neighborhoods after the pilot program began. Data: City of Berkeley
Drivers surveyed by city staff said they parked much less in residential neighborhoods after goBerkeley began. Data: City of Berkeley

In addition to changing paid parking rates downtown, around Telegraph Avenue and in the Elmwood neighborhood, the program also aimed to encourage transit use by distributing bus passes and subsidizing car-share memberships.

“Using price, time limits and signs as tools, the program sought to shift some drivers from high­ demand to lower demand areas,” the city said in a statement released Thursday. “Those tools were adjusted, with oversight from the City Council, when conditions changed.”

City staff submitted a lengthy draft report to council about goBerkeley in December. It is scheduled to be presented to council in final form later this month. According to that report, the program cut down on vehicle use and made it easier to park in the pilot areas, made it easier to park in city-owned garages and got more people using them, and improved parking signage to better communicate rates and time limits to drivers. In addition, according to city staff, fewer people are now parking in the neighborhoods around the pilot areas, and have shifted to metered spaces. Read the full draft report.


Staff outlined four possible paths forward (pp. 10-11), but did not make a specific recommendation. According to the draft report, the city could terminate the program and either continue the current payment and timing structure or return to how it was before; continue the program in the pilot areas only, which could mean more data collection and future adjustments to fees and time limits; or roll out the program citywide. Staff said it plans to provide cost estimates for each option in the future.

Drivers surveyed by city staff it was easier to find parking after goBerkeley began. Data: City of Berkeley
Drivers surveyed by city staff it was easier to find parking after goBerkeley began. Data: City of Berkeley

Some of the data studied by staff throughout the pilot included goBerkeley’s effects on parking and transit use, survey feedback, and estimated overall impacts on traffic, air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

In next week’s workshops, attendees will be able to review data from the pilot, describe their experiences and offer feedback on whether the program should continue. City staff say they are interested to hear where improvements are needed most.

Later this month, on Jan. 27, council is scheduled to review the program’s data on parking and traffic conditions, as well as the public surveys and input from next week’s workshops. (Detailed information about that meeting has not yet been posted, but will ultimately appear on the city website.)

Nearly $3 million in grants from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Federal Highway Administration and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District paid for goBerkeley, which was a collaborative effort between the city and the Downtown Berkeley Association, Telegraph Business Improvement District and Elmwood Merchants Association, as well as AC Transit, City CarShare and TransForm. The program was designed to be revenue-neutral, rather than to raise money for the city.


Read more on the goBerkeley website. Read more about parking issues in Berkeley. Past Berkeleyside coverage on the goBerkeley program appears below.

Related:
Council to consider higher rates, evening hours for some Berkeley parking meters (03.21.14)
City parking garage fees up downtown, down on Telegraph (10.30.13)
Many Berkeley parking meters now accept most coins (10.23.13)
Metered parking changes launch Tuesday in Berkeley (10.15.13)
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)

Do you rely on Berkeleyside for your local news? You can support independent local journalism by becoming a Berkeleyside member. You can choose either a monthly payment or a one-time donation.