Berkeley council members suggest electronic system to remind residents of street sweeping

Fikreselam Habebo/Staff
A sign warns drivers when not to park to avoid tickets for obstructing street sweeping vehicles.

In an effort to prevent avoidable parking tickets, Berkeley City Council members are recommending that the city implement an electronic reminder system to notify residents of scheduled parking restrictions for monthly street sweeping.

The e-notification system, proposed by Councilmembers Jesse Arreguin and Gordon Wozniak in a recommendation to the council for its meeting next Tuesday, aims to limit street sweeping tickets by using technology to disseminate information about cleaning schedules to residents.

Citations for parking in street sweeping areas are one of the most commonly issued tickets in Berkeley, according to the city’s customer service website.

“Given that we get calls on a pretty consistent basis from people who receive citations for parking in street sweeping zones, it was definitely something we wanted city staff to look into to make information more public,” Arreguin said. “It’s an idea that’s definitely long overdue.”

The current signage to notify residents of street sweeping schedules is confusing and has achieved little success, Arreguin said.

Similar e-notification systems have been implemented across the country and state, including in San Francisco, Albany, Denver and even in some Berkeley neighborhoods.

According to Councilmember Kriss Worthington, one individual on Derby Street in South Berkeley put together an email notification system for that block to remind neighbors of upcoming street sweeping.

A system that the city of Albany implemented over a year ago has been hindered by technical issues, according to Amy Alvidrez, office assistant in the Albany Public Works Department who sends out the notifications.

“There’s some oddity in the system,” Alvidrez said. “It just hasn’t been functioning well.”

To ensure that a similar Berkeley system would operate smoothly, Arreguin recommended that the city partner with UC Berkeley computer science students.

“There’s definitely been an active interest on the part of professors and students at Cal on trying to work on projects that assist the city in providing information to residents and in improving city services,” Arreguin said. “I hope this is one of many efforts to use technology to make information more available to city residents.”

At their meeting next Tuesday, council members will decide whether to send the recommendation to the city manager, who would then analyze the technicalities of realizing the proposal, according to city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross.