Navigating Oakland parking this Thanksgiving
on November 24, 2010
For anybody who drives a car, one Thanksgiving holiday perk, aside from the excess of food, is free time all day in a decent parking space. But this reward also has limits that can lead drivers to pay a heavy price.
From this Thursday through Saturday, Thanksgiving Day itself is the only time visitors and residents are allowed to park for free in city-designated spots. The following day, also known as “Black Friday,” is not a parking enforcement holiday. Vehicles parked without meter payment will be ticketed.
Artesha Rose, who has been a parking enforcement officer for 14 years, spent Tuesday morning roaming the downtown area in search of vehicles in fare violation. Rose said a lot of people assume that on “Black Friday” they do not have to pay to park at a meter. “They figure since it’s the day after Thanksgiving, or the day before Christmas, that a lot of people don’t work,” she said. “So they think they don’t have to pay.” She said each year she finds drivers who become irate upon returning to their ticketed cars.
Part of the confusion comes from the fact that a city closure day – when employees don’t work, and offices aren’t open to the public — does not necessarily mean parking is free. Oakland city spokesperson Karen Boyd said there is no parking enforcement on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas. These major federal holidays are when government offices, banks, and postal services close. “In general terms, the meter holidays are major holidays,” Boyd said.
But on New Year’s Eve, Lincoln’s Birthday, Admission Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, the day after Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Eve, the city offices are also closed. Many of these holidays are negotiated through union efforts, Boyd said. City parking is not free, she said, either on those days or on city furlough days. So even when nearly every single city employee is out for the day, without pay, parking enforcement officers roam the streets gathering revenue for the city by way of citations.
State laws for parking at colored curbs will still apply during the holiday. For anyone who needs a refresher, the state Department of Motor Vehicles 2010 California Driver Handbook offers the following guidelines for color-marked curbside parking:
- White – Stop only long enough to pick up or drop off passengers or mail.
- Green – Park for a limited time. Look for a sign next to the green zone for time limits or for the time limit painted on the curb.
- Yellow – Stop no longer than the time posted to load or unload passengers or freight. Drivers of noncommercial vehicles are usually required to stay with the vehicle. (This also applies even after commercial business hours, unless a posted sign indicates otherwise.)
- Red – No stopping, standing, or parking. (Buses may stop at a red zone marked for buses.)
- Blue – Parking only for a disabled person who displays an appropriate placard or special license plate. Disabled people with a placard or special plates may park in special areas, including metered and “Pay to Park” spaces for unlimited periods of time, regardless of time restrictions. No one else may park there.
Although fines are an added expense for drivers, fees and citations mean big bucks for the city. According to the city’s finance and management agency parking enforcement website, aside from holidays, regular parking hours are 8 am to 6 pm Monday through Saturday. The city allows free parking on Sundays. The city’s current rate is $2 per hour. The rate was increased by 50 cents per hour on July 1, 2009, despite the opposition of a large number of Oakland residents.
In 2008, the city collected nearly $10 million from parking meters/kiosks and $22 million in parking fines, according to the site. The extension of parking meter hours and fines that increased in the summer of 2009 are projected to have generated an additional $4.5 million in revenue.
Those who are looking for shopping and leisure during the extended Thanksgiving weekend may be hard-pressed to find alternatives to what the city is offering, although there are some. Officials with Douglas Parking, a company that owns more than 30 parking lots in Oakland, said all of its locations are scheduled to close on Thanksgiving Day. At Jack London Square there are more than 2,000 covered parking spaces which offer discounted rates with validation from restaurants and some businesses, said Vanessa Cordova a press representative for the property. There are also limited metered spaces. “In most cases, the covered parking is cheaper,” Cordova said.
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