Staff Toss Out Solutions to Parking Woes
Staff Toss Out Solutions to Parking Woes
By D. Lyn Hunter,
One day, a Berkeley employee, unable to secure a parking space on campus, defiantly stood outside the office of Parking & Transportation Director Nad Permaul, vowing to wait there until a parking space was found for him.
This act of civil disobedience speaks to the intense feelings of faculty and staff on the subject of campus parking, as parking rates go up and available spaces contract during a period of intense campus construction.
To air frustrations, gather data and provide background on this complex issue, Berkeley is conducting two surveys, held a recent campus forum and plans to hold a May 3 public meeting. (See box for details.)
At the April 6 forum -- offered by Parking & Transportation and hosted by the Berkeley Staff Assembly -- Permaul laid the groundwork for discussion with some basic facts: the campus has lost more than 1,100 parking spaces due to construction projects to modernize and seismically retrofit the campus, and will lose an additional 500 for the same reason.
Nearly 1,000 of these spaces will eventually be replaced, he said. But parking permit fees have dramatically increased, and will continue to rise, in order to pay for this replacement.
"State funds cannot be used to subsidize the new spaces because parking and transportation has been designated by the Regents as an auxiliary service," Permaul explained, when asked why drivers pay for the new spaces through their permit fees. "Parking is in the same category as athletics or Cal Performances; we must support ourselves financially."
Many in attendance were unappeased.
Professor Richard Abrams, who chairs the Academic Senate transportation subcommittee, called for changes in the policies that govern campus parking and financing for parking construction.
"We need to tell the chancellor and president (Atkinson) how we feel," he said.
Abrams said the regents are sitting on a huge endowment -- a reserve of "rainy day" money meant to cover the university in times of need or emergency -- that could be used to subsidize the construction of new parking spaces.
"The rainy day is here," said Abrams. "With the huge influx of new students and the massive retrofitting projects over the next several years, access to the campus has become a critical issue, one that is crucial to the academic mission of the university."
Professor of Political Science Jack Citrin suggested that the campus put on hold both creation of new parking spaces and levying new parking fees until a better plan can be put together.
"We're being asked to pay for something that won't come online for several years now -- by which time I'll probably be retired," he said.
A lone dissenter suggested that making room for more cars, and increasing traffic to and from campus, is not the way to go. He was quickly answered by a woman who said she was responsible for children, parents and grandparents: "Riding a bike to work is not an option for me," she said.
Permaul noted that trade-offs must be made, partly because campus parking needs conflict with the city's desire to reduce traffic congestion, and partly because there isn't enough room on campus to build parking spaces for everyone who would like one.
Capital Projects Senior Planner Jennifer Lawrence told the audience the campus has to make some tough decisions on how parking will be handled in the future and that input from the campus is crucial to the decision-making process.
Campus Parking: Make Your Voice Heard
A public meeting on campus parking will be held at 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 3, at a location to be announced. For information call 643-0313.
Capital Projects is conducting a survey on parking-related issues, including short-term parking, mass transit, traffic congestion and parking permit prices. The survey is part of a transportation demand management study by UC and the city of Berkeley. Questionnaires may be obtained from Vic Rosenzweig at 643-0313.
Parking & Transportation is conducting a survey of parking permit holders. The questionnaire will be sent out with parking renewal notices and via e-mail. Permit holders may also submit comments via e-mail to (email@example.com).