Daily Planet Staff
Most bosses provide parking for their employees and the university should do so, too.
This sentiment, expressed at Thursday’s noon-time Staff Assembly meeting, was greeted with applause by many of the 100 or so car commuters who came to a meeting on the state of campus parking, hosted by Nadesan Permaul, director of parking and transportation at UC Berkeley.
Permaul laid out the most recent parking statistics: The campus has 7,500 parking slots, having lost 1,110 over the last decade. Over the next five years, with increased building and retrofitting work on campus, there will be a loss of 500 additional spaces.
Each day, there is a demand of some 10,000 to 11,000 spaces. Lots are generally full between 2 and 3 p.m.
“Most parking permits are clearly ‘hunting licenses’ rather than guarantees of availability of reasonably convenient parking,” says a February 1999 parking study written by Wilber Smith Associates.
The university is hiking parking fees by a little more than 50 percent, to about $100 per month for faculty. The increased rates, fiercely opposed by people at Thursday’s meeting, will help build additional parking. Two-hundred new spaces have been written into plans at the Oxford Tract, at Hearst Avenue and Oxford Street. The Wilber Smith study talks about putting as many as 350 spaces at the site.
At Underhill, the controversial city block at Channing Way and College Avenue, the study says there could be 550 to 660 spaces built.
Adequate parking “is essential to carry out the academic mission of the university,” said Richard Abrams, chair of a faculty committee on transportation and parking. Abrams explained that difficult parking conditions create a situation where faculty may teach class in the morning, go home to work afterward, and skip meetings or lectures later in the day, because it is so difficult to park.
Permaul explained that the increase in fees is necessary because his department is not subsidized by the university. He suggested that if those in attendance wanted more parking at lower rates, they would have to become more vocal.
“It is important for you to put your needs out,” he said.
While most of those who spoke at the meeting commute by car to the campus, UC employee Jason Meggs, one of the founders of the Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition and an avid advocate for bikes, offered a different perspective.
“I’m possibly the only person here who doesn’t drive,” he said.
Meggs blasted the university for calling a meeting of commuters. “Flyers were put on cars,” he said, noting that in a recent campus survey, 78 percent of the students said that if they could live near campus, they would give up their cars.
Oakland resident and UC employee Anya Grant responded that many of those present had responsibilities such as picking up children after school. Thus, the need for a car.
She added that the university needs incentives, including parking, to attract faculty to Berkeley.
“The faculty have lots of choices. They don’t come here to live reduced lifestyles,” she said.
On a related note, there is a meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday of the Transportation Demand Study Working Group, at Unit 1 Recreation Room, 2650 Durant Ave. This study is designed to develop strategies for efficient, environmentally friendly, economically sound transportation for the Southside/Downtown areas of Berkeley for the next 20 years.