During Tuesday’s meeting, Berkeley City Council voted on resolutions to purchase 15 parking enforcement vehicles and to increase parking enforcement on UC Berkeley football game days.
The decision to purchase parking enforcement vehicles proved to be the most contentious topic of the night, after Councilmember Kate Harrison brought forward the discussion of purchasing electric vehicles instead of gas-powered ones. After discussing the feasibility of implementing electric vehicles, the council voted 5-4 in favor of purchasing 15 gas-powered vehicles.
“We have declared a climate emergency. … We’ve asked citizens to give up things, we’ve asked everyone to participate in this climate emergency, and when it comes to the point of the operational piece, we don’t consider that enough,” Harrison said during the meeting.
According to Harrison, $600,000 has been allocated for the installment of electric charging stations at various city locations. Harrison said this is another reason to invest in electric vehicles rather than gas-powered vehicles.
Several community members voiced their support for electric vehicles during public comment. Despite public support for them, Public Works Director Phil Harrington said electric scooters have historically “had more time in the shop than on the street.”
The council also voted to move forward with parts of phase two of the Residential Preferential Parking, or RPP, program reform and expansion. According to Public Works senior planner Gordon Hansen, the RPP program began in 1980 to “protect the integrity of residential neighborhoods.” The program currently includes 16 RPP zones and allows three parking permits per household.
According to Hansen, while the 21 parking enforcement officers, or PEOs, are already stretched thin with duties such as RPP enforcement, meter enforcement, responding to complaints and street sweeping, the problem is exacerbated on UC Berkeley football game days.
“The PEOs are often pulled from their existing RPPs and other duties on game days to fill in for other football-related patrols where there’s a gap in staffing from the police force,” Hansen said. “There’s simply not enough staffing to cover all the other activities that PEOs do on football game days.”
Additionally, Hansen said residents have difficulty finding parking in neighborhoods close to the stadium on game days.
In response to these problems, the council passed two resolutions that will expand enforcement on football game days. “Enhanced fine areas” will be established, which will prohibit parking without a permit in several zones. In enhanced fine areas, the parking fine on football game days will be $225 per violation.
The council voted to postpone voting on an increase in parking permit fees that would allow more areas to opt in to the program and increase staff and equipment in order to further discuss the fees.