We would like to voice strong support for the recent message of Vice Chancellor Mote. In a recent Berkeleyan interview, he talked about the need for a new relationship and responsiveness between the university and wider community.
There is currently a good test of university responsiveness toward the external community. In April the university announced plans to implement a major parking expansion/construction at the hilltop (Lawrence Hall of Science and Space Sciences Lab). Staff at LHS and SSL objected immediately. As they learned about the plans, nearby residents and trail users also spoke out strongly in opposition. There are now thousands in opposition and almost no one in favor. In a public meeting Sept 19 the planned project was roundly criticized.
Here is what one neighbor, alumnus and donor said, "What you are doing is changing the character of our neighborhood to something substantially inferior....It is very upsetting that you could do that so callously without ever consulting us. I consider myself part of the university community and it makes me ashamed."
Obviously there was inadequate consultation in preparing the hilltop parking plan. Because it will negatively impact thousands of people, it is strongly opposed.
The question now is: What should the university do? Ignore the dissent and plow ahead? Or respond to the neighbor, staff and alumni concerns and reconsider? If Vice Chancellor Mote's call is taken seriously, the course to follow is clear.
Space Sciences Laboratory
The university is improving existing parking areas at the Silver Laboratory and the hillside terraces between the laboratory and the Lawrence Hall of Science due to expansion of the Silver Laboratory and to meet needs at LHS. These are not new parking lots. Modifications will improve their efficiency and safety and result in a minor increase in the number of spaces.
The purpose of the project is to provide safe, adequate parking at the laboratory and the Hall of Science; improve lighting and walkways; control erosion; and provide drought-tolerant, fire-resistant landscaping.
Meetings have been held with staff, neighbors, city commissions and city officials to discuss their concerns.
The campus has offered to work with the neighbors on the design of the improvements.
The primary controversy and opposition revolves around the fact that people will now have to pay into the campus parking and transportation system, through hourly parking fees or annual permits.
Monthly parking for staff will be at a reduced rate that equates to less that $1.60 a day.
People who wish to use the nearby fire trail will continue to park free at the Silver Laboratory lot before and after work hours and on weekends. During work hours, public parking on the terraces will be available for 50 cents an hour.
The availability of this parking for public use will thus continue to benefit the community.
We are aware of the opposition by staff to pay for parking that has been free at the laboratory.
However, it is consistent with campus policy to encourage use of public transit and alternatives to single-occupant cars through a comprehensive parking and transportation management system.
We believe that this policy benefits the campus and the wider community.
Leroy E. Bean
Associate vice chancellor