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City Council to consider increased parking fees

on September 23, 2008


SEPT. 23 Over the summer, some North Oakland residents were furious with the city when they unexpectedly got tickets for parking their cars in front of their homes after they had already paid to renew their residential parking permits.

Many were ticketed, they said, while the city delayed sending the new permits through the mail. They were frustrated by the city’s slow effort to issue renewal notices, and the residents thought the city would see things their way. Instead, many were forced to pay the fines—although, the city later decided to forgive the fines for many of the residents who were ticketed.

Now, the city is looking to put another twist in the residential permit-parking saga. Today, a City Council subcommittee will be considering an item urging the council to raise fees for the permits throughout the city—more than doubling them, in some cases.

This time, however, it’s more complicated than just making sure residents get their renewal notices on time. City officials say the program has been severely underfunded for years and something needs to be done so that it can continue to operate.

“We’re very concerned about the residents,” said Francine Larkrith-Thompson, the city’s parking division manager who oversees the residential parking program. “But the issue has become: Now that these citizens have paid for this parking, we don’t have any more personnel, and we have to absorb the costs. … Now that we have to increase our staff, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute. This program has never paid for itself.’”

A residential parking permit sticker is displayed on the bumper of a car parked on Boyd Avenue in North Oakland.

A residential parking permit sticker is displayed on the bumper of a car parked on Boyd Avenue in North Oakland. (Photo by Martin Ricard)

Larkrith-Thompson said the cost of operating the program, which requires residents and business owners and their employees to purchase permits to park on residential streets for more than two hours, has significantly increased since the city started it 22 years ago.

However, the revenue generated from permit sales and the large demand from residents requesting newer permit-parking areas, city officials say, continue to burden the program’s bottom line.

“Our resources are being stretched very thin,” Larkrith-Thompson said.

The city’s answer to that problem is to propose the following changes:

· More than double the fee for first-time residential permit-parking applications, to $60 from $25.

· More than triple the annual renewal fee for residential parking, to $50 from $15.

· Raise the annual renewal fee for business permit parking to $110 from $75.

· Raise the fees by 3 percent annually the year after the current hikes take effect.

The increases are expected to generate $148,490 in new revenue, which city officials say would offset the operating costs of the permit-parking program. If approved, the changes would go into effect July 1, 2009, in the city’s more than a dozen residential permit-parking areas, such as the streets near Jack London Square, near the West Oakland BART station and in the Rockridge neighborhood.

Zac Wald, chief of staff for Councilwoman Jane Brunner (North Oakland), said the councilwoman’s office has received a flood of calls from residents about the issue over the last several months. The changes would have the biggest impact on North Oakland neighborhoods, which, according to the city, have the largest number of parking permits.

Wald said Brunner believes the proposed fee increases are too high, and she is expected to offer a different proposal today that looks to “find more of a middle ground” by pushing gradual increases over time.

Still, some people, like Rockridge resident Blaise Curet, are feeling a little resentment from how the city handled the last ordeal.

“I got burned with the renewal issue,” Curet said, adding that he wasn’t one of the fortunate residents to have been forgiven by the city for the fines. “So then to hear that their position is the revenue doesn’t cover the costs—my take on it is that I don’t understand how that can be. I don’t take to the idea that we should be paying more to make them more self-sufficient.”

A couple on Broadway, who did not want their names published, said they also were skeptical of the city’s plans. While only one supported the fee increases, they both agreed that the changes probably wouldn’t improve much because the city has been so burdened with other problems related to the pending budget cuts. (Although they do not live in an area designated for permit parking, they were able to get a permit from a friend.)

“I can see that everybody needs to raise money right now,” the wife said. “But I don’t like Oakland government. I think it’s badly run.”

Some residents, however, don’t seem that bothered by the city’s proposal.

Debbie Weintraub, a lower Rockridge resident, said she thinks of it as a privilege to be able to park in front of her own house, since just a few blocks away are College and Claremont avenues, two of the busiest corridors in North Oakland.

So forking out a little extra to keep the privilege of having permit parking, she said, is nothing more than paying her “fair share.”

“Otherwise, you end up being like a place like Manhattan,” she said.||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||


  1. Larry Benson on October 12, 2008 at 10:33 am

    I am very excited about your website as it closes a loop of communication that has gone missing for some time now. However, I am disappointed that the North Oakland neighborhood I live in is being once again neglected on your site. Even the Neighborhoods tab doesn’t include us.

    I am referring to the Golden Gate Area in the far north and west corner of Oakland (on the other side of the Grove Shafter Freeway 24). We are bounded by 53rd Street on our South, 67th Street on our North, Vallejo (and sometimes Beaudry) on our West, and Adeline Street to our East though many argue it is the freeway. Because of the freeway we are an appendage of Oakland, and we get little attention or resources.

    Our main drag is San Pablo Avenue, we have a close knit community and have two organizations that we try to handle our quality of live issues (good and bad) and our crime issues. They are the San Pablo Golden Gate Improvement Association (SPAGGIA) and the Golden Gate Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council (NCPC Beat 10X).

    Many Oaklanders think this area is Emeryville but it’s not even if we share a Library with them, Post Office and Zip Code (94608 is a constant source of problems for us all with computers that believe that 94608 is Emeryville and that’s final).

    Jane Brunner is our City Council Representative and we are constantly calling her and her staff to recognize problems here.

    Anyway thanks for the website and please try to include us.

    Larry Benson
    resident of the Golden Gate Neighborhood of Oakland, CA
    979 54th Street
    Oakland, CA 94608
    510-681-1157 (cell)

  2. Karen on October 13, 2008 at 9:47 am

    I very much appreciate your reporting on the controversial issues facing Oakland schools at this moment. It is crucial that parents have a place where they can go for news on education that explains and fully vets issues and agendas. Too often the news we receive whitewashes the real circumstances and politics that are affecting the education of all our children. A series of decisions will be made by OUSD and the School Board in the next few months that will have serious repercussions for the future of Oakland children. Parents need to stay well-informed and engaged so that our goals of equity and justice in education are not further undermined.

  3. mricard on October 14, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Mr. Benson,

    Thank you for so much your comment! Your point is well taken. I am one of the students contributing to this site and one of the editors for today. To answer your question, we are covering Golden Gate and all the other neglected neighborhoods of North Oakland. In fact, if you check back on our site Thursday, you will see a story about your neighborhood. The way our site works, the neighborhood tags don’t get added until a story is posted about it. So have no fear. More stories about all of the North Oakland neighborhoods are on their way. And please keep sending us feedback. Tell all your neighbors about us. Spread the word. This is an experiment. But, most of all, consider this your local news site.

    Martin Ricard

Oakland North welcomes comments from our readers, but we ask users to keep all discussion civil and on-topic. Comments post automatically without review from our staff, but we reserve the right to delete material that is libelous, a personal attack, or spam. We request that commenters consistently use the same login name. Comments from the same user posted under multiple aliases may be deleted. Oakland North assumes no liability for comments posted to the site and no endorsement is implied; commenters are solely responsible for their own content.

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