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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Parking Management and Downtown Land Development: The Case of Downtown Berkeley, CA

  • Author(s): Deakin, Elizabeth
  • et al.

This paper presents findings from a study of land use, parking, mode choice, and housing and jobs development in downtown Berkeley, CA, a medium-sized city with four decades of experience with parking management and transit-oriented development. The paper sheds light on the multiple roles that parking management, including reduced parking requirements and parking pricing, can play in a downtown area. It also illustrates the performance of transit-oriented development in smaller cities. Originally developed as a streetcar suburb, Berkeley has long supported high quality transit, restricted parking, and provided walking and biking facilities. This has resulted in transit, walk, and bike usage far higher than US averages. Nevertheless, traffic is heavy, parking is full, and concerns about infill development persist. Merchants are also concerned that parking constraints may limit economic development. Surveys of downtown shoppers, workers, and residents show that relatively few drive downtown. Workers and downtown residents are a large share of downtown commercial enterprises' customers. Residents have intentionally chosen to live in a transit and pedestrian friendly area and own and use cars far less often than average. Parking shortages are caused in large part by overtime parking, facilitated by broken meters and by meter feeding by employees. Overall, transit-oriented development has been successful in reducing auto ownership and use, but is accompanied by tight parking and a certain amount of congestion. Parking enforcement and better use of off-street spaces would relieve the former problem. Many cities are contending with these issues, so the Berkeley case should provide useful insights.

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