Oakland’s Holiday Gift: Parking Dysfunction and Traffic Congestion

Photo: ##http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidciani/4999187338/in/photostream/##davidciani/Flickr##

The City of Oakland would apparently like to think it’s doing merchants and shoppers a favor by declaring all on-street car parking free every Saturday until New Year’s.

Of course, parking meters were invented to encourage turnover and allow more driving customers to park near businesses. So while the city’s “gift” probably won’t do much for the local economy, it will help ensure that parking won’t be available. The city is basically inviting car owners to drive on down and circle endlessly for spots.

Meanwhile, the city didn’t see fit to bestow free fares to AC Transit riders, so shoppers considering taking the bus will have even less of an incentive to do so while free parking is on the table. Can the city do any more to get Oaklanders into their cars?

“If parking is filling up, it’s self-defeating — it can actually hurt stores,” said Stuart Cohen, executive director of TransForm, which is based in Oakland. “You want to look out for unintended consequences, because it could backfire.”

This isn’t the first time Oakland has fallen for the hare-brained notion that free parking is good for business. In 2009, the City Council caved on a proposal to extend parking meter hours into the evening after complaints from some vocal merchants, while businesses in other cities that have chosen to expand meter hours reap the benefits.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Supes Farrell and Cohen Have Yet to Grasp Why Free Parking Hurts SF

|
Mark Farrell and Malia Cohen emerged as the most vocal proponents of free car parking on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at a hearing on parking meters last week. Farrell called the hearing in February based on an admittedly “unfounded” suspicion that the SF Municipal Transportation Agency was planning to install parking meters in District 2, which […]

SFMTA Abandons Parking Meter Plans in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill

|
The SFMTA has given up on its neighborhood-scale plans to install parking meters in the Dogpatch and Portrero Hill, while parking meter approvals in the northeast Mission move forward at a snail’s pace. After two years of tangling with the city, the defenders of dysfunctional free parking have effectively caused a huge setback for progressive […]

The Land of the Free (Parking)

|
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to those of you who didn’t watch the San Francisco MTA Board meeting yesterday on your live-feed or on SFGTV that the meeting devolved into a referendum on the merits of free, or nearly free, parking. With half a dozen television cameras lined up along the far side of […]

SFMTA Board Repeals Sunday Parking Meters

|
The SFMTA Board of Directors today caved to pressure from Mayor Ed Lee by removing Sunday parking meters, a move folded into its approval of the agency’s two-year budget. The Sunday meter reversal was supported by all but one of the SFMTA’s board members, who are appointed by the mayor. Board member Cristina Rubke said she […]