City council to consider possibility of increasing residential parking permits for students

Gracie Malley/File

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Two items that will be presented to Berkeley City Council in coming weeks could allow drivers with vehicles not registered in Berkeley to obtain residential parking permits and allow all permit holders to park beyond the 72-hour limit in certain zones.

Residential parking permits give Berkeley drivers the right to park in certain zones off-limits to other drivers for an annual fee of $34.50. In 2010 alone, 14,500 Berkeley drivers acquired these permits, according to city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross.

There are currently 14 different permit zones throughout Berkeley, primarily in commercial and residential areas around the UC Berkeley campus. City Councilmember Jesse Arreguin, who authored the proposals, said the most affected areas would be residences around Memorial Stadium and in Downtown Berkeley.

“It’d be useful to just be able to go somewhere and not worry about the two-hour parking limit,” said UC Berkeley senior R.J. Lang, who parks his car at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on Warring Street.

Arreguin’s first agenda item is aimed toward helping students. Currently, only students who own cars registered to their residences in Berkeley are able to obtain parking permits. However, most student drivers bring cars that are registered to their permanent homes elsewhere and therefore do not qualify for parking permits.

“Students are the biggest group of people who have been affected by this policy,” Arreguin said. “We’re not talking about professors that are coming to Berkeley or students coming from out of town — it’s people that are living in these neighborhoods. They’re just as much a part of the community as those who live here long-term.”

Arreguin said he has received feedback from local residents who fear the inclusion of vehicles not registered in Berkeley could lead to residents selling the permits to nonresidents for profit, although Arreguin denies this will be a significant problem.
With these potential amendments to city law, however, the city may lose revenue because fewer parking citations are likely to be given, he said.

Arreguin also looked at other cities for example, such as San Diego, to guide his proposals for Berkeley. San Diego already has a policy that allows residents whose vehicles are not registered in the city to buy parking permits, he said.

The second agenda item will also reach the City Council within the next few months and looks to allow residents with parking permits to park longer at certain 72-hour limit parking zones in residential areas.

Both items were originally planned to be discussed at the Oct. 16 City Council meeting but were withdrawn so Arreguin could further discuss and make final changes to the proposals.

Contact Lindsey at [email protected].