Blogging Bayport Alameda

November 20, 2013

It’s too crowded nobody goes there anymore

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Point, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:00 am

So much twisted logic at the Planning Board meeting last week, I have no words…

Okay, that’s not true, I had lots of words but mostly everything began with WTF?

So the Planning Board last week took on the topic of Draft Zoning Plan for Alameda Point (zoning amendment whatever).  Oh, quick note, City Staff referenced an article in the Alameda Sun which talked about the “disappearing park” at Alameda Point and essentially said that they had no idea to what this was referring to. Based on comments from the columnist’s blog, it appears that the discrepancy was chalked up to an issue of semantics and because the word “park” didn’t exist that meant that the park has “disappeared” even though the text made it appear that there was no designation for park/open space at all.  But whatevs.

Back to the main event.  So there was a presentation about parking and how Alameda Point is going to do parking differently in order to help control traffic, etc.   The idea is, make parking a commodity and people will rethink their need to take a car everywhere.  I don’t necessarily disagree with all the strategies that they suggested, but one of the Planning Board members did.   Lorre Zuppan came out strongly against the parking strategies because people can’t take public transportation everywhere.  And not everyone knows how to ride a bike.  And she knows, because she takes the bus every day and once saw a guy trying to take his shopping cart (not THOSE shopping carts) on to the bus and almost got kicked off because it was too big and it was cold outside.   Oh and the people who live at the Collaborative, it’s not fair for them to have to pay for parking.

Sigh.

First of all, given that families at the Collaborative have a low percentage of car ownership they are already taking public transportation or walking to access their destinations.   These parking policies will not affect them.

Second, that dude taking the bus trying to schlep his groceries on the bus?  I bet he doesn’t have a car either.

So I’m not sure how either of these anecdotes support her “don’t charge for parking because of the poors” case.

I guess the bigger problem I have is that somehow treating parking as it is — a commodity — is something that is a “threat” to drivers.   I mean, we complain about the increase in traffic from development, but when there are policies to be put in place that will help limit traffic we don’t want those either because it becomes a war against drivers.   We, as a society, are so hell bent on making our streets convenient for drivers that we forget that those resources should be shared for all transportation modes: biking, walking, public transportation, etc.

Then, she proceeds to go to to say that she supports some Op-Ed that ran in the Wall Street Journal about “bike wars.”  The gist of the op-ed is that some dude is complaining because his city has a plan (as part of a larger community driven plan) to take out some street parking and put in a bike lane.  He has a problem with that because what will happen when he needs to throw a party?   Where will his guests park?  Never mind that bikers may use the bike lane multiple times per day, what happens when this guy wants to throw a party perhaps — at most — once a month for a few hours.  Think of his guests!

This overview by the Washington Times is good backgrounder in case you wanted to delve more into the issue.

But back to the Planning Board meeting, this last part though was when I just threw up my hands in exasperation.   Planning Board member Lorre Zuppan in continuing to talk about why the parking strategies are wrong mentions that the parking rates on Park Street are too expensive and akin to San Francisco’s rates.  She she said that she decided that she would rather drive into San Francisco and pay the parking there then pay the parking on Park Street.

O______0

Except for the fact that driving to San Francisco to pay the same parking rate as Park Street — which is apparently now at $2 per hour — doesn’t include the $5 toll to cross the Bay Bridge and the cost of gas and time.   But I guess it’s the same if you are trying to make some nebulous point about how the parking policies are hurting Park Street business.   But let’s be real here, there is no way that the Park Street meters are driving Lorre Zuppan to seek out other cities to shop in.  She pretty much said months ago that she doesn’t go to Park Street anymore at certain times of the day because she can’t find any parking.  What the rise in the meter rates should do is make more street parking available because people who are staying for extended periods of time tend to balk at having to pay “too much” for parking meters. Kind of like Iphone apps.  But the idea is that people who truly need those spaces — people who will turnover those spots fairly quickly — will have those spots available now that the people who park there for long stretches at a time move else where, like the parking garage.

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11 Comments »

  1. In recent months the city has tremendoulsy ramped up parking enforcement. From what I see (sample size of one, not conclusive) the city appears to have trebled or quadrupled the enforcement effort. It’s very common to see 2 or more parking officers on Parks St, actively ticketing. Up until a few months ago I never saw more than one at a time and the frequency was much lower.

    A sharp increase in parking rates is a pain, but people will get used to it and it’s unlikely to affect retail traffic. The city will come to regret the ticketing offensive, though. It doesn’t take many $50 tickets to drive shoppers away from Park, Webster and the station areas.

    Comment by dave — November 20, 2013 @ 6:19 am

  2. Yea, the planning board has a Trish Spencer named Lorre Zuppan. Sigh, O——o (boy)

    Comment by Jack Richard — November 20, 2013 @ 9:35 am

  3. Now, if we could just interest the city or PSBA in keeping Park St clean. . .But I guess that is not a revinoo enhancer, is it? Why can’t the city and Mr Ratto and his board understand that a clean shopping district is a happy, fun place to go, which to my way of thinking, increases business thus increases sales tax revenue? Ah well, Disneyland we ain’t.

    Comment by Not A Alamedan — November 20, 2013 @ 9:41 am

  4. There should be a mixture of paid parking and free parking for those willing to walk a little farther. If we get too zealous in trying to engineer lifestyles, people just won’t go there. Alameda Point is pretty out of the way for a lot of people as it is. I don’t think it’s a great idea to charge for parking when you are trying to attract buyers. They can park at Southshore for free. I walk to Park Street because it’s very close to where I live. Just going to Target doesn’t even seem worth it in the car, let alone on a bus. I realize my shopping habits might not be typical, but I really think this plan could backfire.

    Comment by Denise Shelton — November 20, 2013 @ 9:43 am

  5. Lauren, Thank you for bringing attention to the missing park designation. It’s not a matter of semantics.

    When I wrote my column and separately to the planning board, it had nothing to do with zoning or an agenda item. It was directed to the overall planning for Alameda Point in general. Andrew Thomas mistakenly brought it up at the meeting, which has caused confusion.

    The discrepancy between words and map images comes in other recent documents, not the zoning map. The August 2013 Alameda Point Planning Guide and the Town Center Plan, to name two recent documents, have names on maps for at least three parks: Enterprise Park, De-Pave Park, and Adaptive Reuse Park. Enterprise and De-Pave even have conceptual drawings.

    On the other hand, “Alameda Point Park” is listed in the city’s General Plan chapter 9 for the Northwest Territories, and it is described in detail in the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Biological Opinion. Yet, the words “Park,” “Region-serving Park,” and/or “Alameda Point Park” are missing from all maps showing the Northwest Territories.

    Similarly, Figure 31 in the Master Infrastructure Plan dated August 8, 2013 identifies “Enterprise Park” and “Regional Sports Complex.” Even though the Northwest Territories area has a park-like illustration, it is apparently another oversight and inconsistency that the words “Region-serving Park” do not appear next to the words “Regional Sports Complex.”

    Nonexistent words have no semantics.

    Comment by Irene — November 20, 2013 @ 9:57 am

  6. She she said that she decided that she would rather drive into San Francisco and pay the parking there then pay the parking on Park Street.

    =================================================================

    Just a guess, but perhaps the meaning she intended to convey is that Park St isn’t exactly an upscale destination, and if parking becomes expensive and annoying, she’ll just go to SF where the parking is also expensive & annoying but the shopping is much higher calibre.

    Comment by dave — November 20, 2013 @ 10:30 am

  7. Last week, my sister’s friend drove all the way from Union City to have dinner on Park Street. She cited the reason was to have one of the famous hamburgers at Scolaris and then an ice cream at Tuckers.

    She comments regularly on how much she likes the small shops and restaurants on Park Street and is even thinking of moving to Alameda mainly because of her discovery of Park Street.

    My point is – Park Street has become a destination and people seem to be willing to pay the parking fees. The opening of Capone’s and the new brewery will only serve to enhance the district.

    Comment by Karen Bey — November 20, 2013 @ 1:15 pm

  8. personally I have never had a problem finding parking on or near park street, of course I don’t mind walking a block or so to get where I’m going. I have gone there for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or the show it has never seemed inconvenient to me. I do think that a $50.00 parking fine is to much and unfair. Try $35.00 and it would be O.K.

    Comment by John P. (L) — November 20, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

  9. #5: All of the documents, beyond the general plan, that you are listing are documents are documents that relate to the development area, not the northwest territories, which is outside of the area slated for development and not a part of the conversations. The planning guide specifically identifies that the NW Territories are expected to be used for passive recreation but the maps, etc. refer to the area that is currently being planned via zoning and Town Center/Waterfront planning. Thus the larger community parks that are proposed within the planning area are identified.

    The reaction you appear to be receiving is because your op-ed claims that an action has take place, that the name of the map has been removed (that it has “disappeared”), possibly indicative of a secret intent. The city’s zoning, the only planning that is being done for NW Territories identifies it as “open space.” (recent, but not most recent, map is here). The zoning map does not identify park names anywhere, because its about land use regulation.

    Enterprise Park is listed in many of the documents you cite because it is in the development area, it is literally a part of the planning that is occurring for Alameda Point. It is included in the Master Infrastructure Plan because the costs of building this park are envisioned to be a part of the fees required by developers to ensure that the construction is enterprise park is covered by developer fees. The waterfront parks that are identified in the town center plan are there because that’s what the document is planning.

    As you correctly note, the park in the NW Territories is still listed in the General Plan. I’m confident that when the city begins planning what to do with the open space it has zoned in the NW Territories, the maps that are created as a part of the process for that area will include the word “park.”

    Comment by jkw — November 20, 2013 @ 2:11 pm

  10. Much of Northern Europe uses a little plastic clock face that you put on the inside of your car windshield to show what time you arrived. Then if you stay too long, you get a ticket, but you do not have to constantly feed parking meters. The system seems to work very well, and allows the main street districts, which are sometimes hundreds of years old to flourish. The parking meters make our main streets user unfriendly and drive shoppers to the malls where parking is not an issue. While I have nothing against malls, I would love to see the main streets also be successful. You do not have to be unfriendly to the automobile to encourage alternate transportation. The last time I passed through Copenhagen it seemed to be literally infested with bicycles. I doubt any other city has more per square mile. The trains allow an easy roll on roll off for bycyclists, not the struggle a cyclist faces using bart. The layout allows most of the island to be accessible to those not old enough to drive. Perhaps this is why they got ranked as the happiest people on earth. Happy kids leading to happy parents. At any rate, Lorre’s concerns should be listened to. You do not change behavour with force, but with opportunities. Otherwise, exactions become just one more tax to be weighed when considering the investment.

    Comment by Ed Hirshberg — November 20, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

  11. #9, Thank you for explaining your outlook. I consider all of the city’s footprint part of Alameda Point development. The Northwest Territories are included in the city’s planning documents. The park will include around 800 parking spaces, according to the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s biological opinion, which should be included in the traffic analysis. I don’t mind having a wait-til-later strategy for the design & funding details of the park, but I don’t see what the big deal is about stamping the word “park” where we all agree there will be one.

    Comment by Irene — November 20, 2013 @ 4:05 pm


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