Grizzly Peak declared a ‘no parking’ zone

By Diane Ainsworth, Public Affairs



26 September 2001 | “No parking” signs have been posted along approximately 300 yards of Centennial Drive to prevent cars from parking on the shoulder of the road and to keep wilderness areas accessible to firefighters.

The signs, now lining both sides of that windy, two-lane road, were posted over the Labor Day weekend, said Thomas Klatt, director of the UC Police Department Emergency Preparedness and Communi- cations Office. The new parking restrictions primarily affect UC staff and faculty working in four buildings: Lawrence Hall of Science, the Silver Space Sciences Laboratory, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and Field Station for Behavioral Research.

“The increasing number of vehicles parking along the shoulder of Grizzly Peak has created a dangerous situation for protection of those wilderness areas,” Klatt said. He noted that regional, city and university entities all agreed “that parking posed a significant threat of wildfires that could be caused by a vehicle’s hot exhaust pipe or catalytic converter igniting nearby dry grasses.”

The East Bay Regional Park District, the California Department of Forestry and the University of California share responsibility for managing the eastern periphery of the campus. Although there is adequate parking for staff and faculty working in buildings adjacent to that stretch of Centennial Drive, employees have increasingly opted to park along the roadside in recent years.

Klatt emphasized the risk posed by cars parked along the shoulder. “Recently, a small fire occurred at one of the turnouts on Grizzly Peak, presumably caused by a vehicle. On a windy day, this fire could have easily spread to nearby properties and homes.

“The 1991 Berkeley/Oakland Hills firestorm,” he said, “taught us an important lesson about the devastating property damage and loss of lives that can result from the spread of a spot fire at the border of a wildland region and an urban area.”

The narrow, curving segment of Centennial Drive in question also poses a threat to pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and hikers, when cars coming around a bend suddenly encounter a congested stretch of irregularly parked cars, Klatt said.

“That safety risk is heightened by the area’s lack of adequate pedestrian crosswalks, proper lighting, traffic control devices and frequently dense fog banks, which greatly reduce visibility,” he noted.

Parking officials from the East Bay Regional Park District, state Forestry Department and UC routinely patrol the region and have begun to enforce the new parking restrictions, according to parking officials.

Parking and transportation staff request that motorists using Grizzly Peak for commuter parking find an alternative parking or transit option. The Berkeley TRiP office is also available to advise commuters on carpools, transit and parking options by visiting or calling 643-7665.


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