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Latest Step in Berkeley's Goldilocks Parking Policy – Free 1-Hour Parking in City Garage

In Berkeley's latest effort to create "just right" parking availability under its "goBerkeley" transportation reform, the city will begin offering one hour of free parking at the city-operated Telegraph Channing garage.

The city-operated Telegragh Channing garage will begin offering free 1-hour parking on Dec. 2, 2013. Photo: Google Maps
The city-operated Telegragh Channing garage will begin offering free 1-hour parking on Dec. 2, 2013. Photo: Google Maps
Free parking two blocks from the UC Berkeley campus and next to iconic Telegraph Avenue?

Yes, starting Dec. 2.

The 436-space, city-operated Telegraph Channing garage (at 2450 Durant Ave.) will offer free parking for the first hour as part of a newly initiated parking policy employing "demand-based" rates at parking meters and city garages.

The city has embarked on a Goldilocks approach to parking – seeking rates and time limits that avoid either too little or too much parking availability in key commercial areas. 

The 2-year pilot project seeks "to create 'just right' parking availability," said a city staff report prepared for last week's City Council meeting.

At that meeting, the council not only approved the free first-hour parking at the Telegraph Channing garage but also approved rate changes – mostly increases –at the two other city-operated garages on Center and Oxford streets. The rate for the first hour at the Center and Oxford garages, for example, will rise to $2.00 from the current $1.

The free first-hour rate at the Telegraph Channing facility was proposed because that garage was relatively under-used, said city spokesman Matthai Chakko.

The parking reform, which is part of the city's "goBerkeley" transportation initiative, began on Oct. 15 with new street parking meter rates and increased time limits in three areas of the city: downtown, the Telegraph Avenue sector near UC Berkeley, and the Elmwood district.

Street meter rates were increased to $2.25 per hour in high-demand zones and decreased to $1.25 or $1.00 in so-called "value areas." Previously they had been $1.50 citywide, except for $1.75 in much of downtown.

The parking rules also expanded the time limits by creating zones with 2-hour, 3-hour, 4-hour and 8-hour maximums.

The merchant associations in the affected areas are delighted with the new plan since it promises to ease parking shortages, Chakko said.

At the Elmwood theater, for example, the new time limit of three hours, will mean matinee movie goers no longer need to worry about rushing out to feed the meter every hour, Chakko said.

"The goal is to free up 1 to 2 spaces on every block and make it easier to find parking – reducing frustration and traffic as well as pollution from circling drivers," according to a city press release about the program. "People already come to these Berkeley districts by bike, bus, BART, foot and car. Now, each of those modes should be even easier – creating a balance that allows all to move more freely."

Chakko added, "I think it's important to note it's a pilot program." The council, which is expected to review the initial results in March, can opt to change it in a variety of ways, he said. 


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