New Mayor, New Parking Policy?
Emeryville's new mayor, Jennifer West, has released a surprising essay detailing her views on how to administer the controversial issue of parking in town, but her record so far on parking has been in opposition to her own newly stated goals. The article, posted by The Secret News on December 7th, illustrates a new way forward for parking and is sure to raise hackles since the only way to accommodate everybody in a town with too many cars chasing too few parking spaces is to make everybody accept a less desirable policy than what we've had up til now: no policy... and that's a recipe that simply brings more cars.
Ms West's somewhat arcane approach is to bring to an end the days of unlimited free parking for business and residents in Emeryville, a place that all cities ultimately come to as they grow and mature, least they choke on traffic and devalue the town for all the stakeholders.
Mayor West's position on parking policy now acknowledges and compliments former council member John Fricke's contribution on the issue of parking for Emeryville's business and residents, a position he held in the wilderness six years ago without any colleague support.
One issue much discussed by Mr Fricke and now taken up by Ms West is the idea of "unbundled" parking or parking available to the public, not just condo owners where the parking is located. Mandated unbundled parking would mean that every condo owner in a new project would not necessarily get guaranteed free parking with their unit but they would be free to try to park there for a fee, along with the rest of the public looking for parking.
The issue of parking is really about livability for Emeryville.
We realize the easiest way politically for an elected official is to simply ignore the problem or worse; keep adding to the glut of free parking that only further exacerbates the intolerable traffic and forces a regime of ever widening the streets.
We salute the mayor's courageous efforts to solve this vexing problem without the usual pandering done by her colleagues, pandering that has brought us to this point of immediate concern. It should be noted that any up-tick in the economy will bring us to crisis: a sea of cars in our town.
We feel the council should move forward on Ms West's solutions with one proviso; existing Emeryville residents should be given some relief from the more draconian parking fixes she prescribes and the most onerous regulation should be more born by new residents and businesses; after all new residents have a choice about moving here and we're supposed to be making our own town more livable for us, the existing Emeryville residents.
Lastly, while we are pleased the issue of parking has been taken up by Mayor West, we must ask where her sudden epiphany came from? Council member West recently helped usher in both the Ambassador housing project proposed for east Emeryville and the Marketplace Development phase 1 housing project to be located near the existing Public Market, and both of those projects were approved without any concern for parking. The Ambassador Project was approved by the council for 69 units with 110 bundled parking spaces making a development that encourages auto use. Market Place too, approved by Ms West, has 192 units with 200 bundled parking spaces and as such is also a new project that encourages driving.
We hope mayor West has indeed changed her ways when it comes to enabling profit maximizing developers who always seem to clamor for more free parking. It's a catechism at City Hall that has been uniformly embraced by the pro-business city council majority. We wish Ms West luck in her push to empower a new pro-resident pro-livability parking paradigm here.
Mayor West's article in The Secret News may be seen here: The Secret News