BERKELEY -- Neighborhood parking permits will rise by 30 percent or about $10 a year under a compromise approved Tuesday night by the City Council that averted a proposed 60 percent increase.
The increase from $34.50 a year to $45 a year, a price residents pay to park on the streets in congested neighborhoods, amounts to just "three cappuccinos a year," according to Councilman Gordon Wozniak, who voted for it, a comparison that drew criticism from his colleague Laurie Capitelli, who voted against the increase. The measure passed on a 6-2 vote with Councilman Kriss Worthington also voting against.
"I think this is a real hardship to some of the neighborhoods in the flatlands," Capitelli said. "There are a lot of people who don't drink three dollar and fifty cent cappuccinos every day. I'm loathe to raise these fees without looking at the whole picture, so I vote 'no.'"
The whole picture includes a $426,000 deficit in the program that sells the passes, pays parking enforcement officers to write tickets for those who don't have them and collects money from the tickets. Tuesday's action does not close the deficit, and the city may consider increasing the price of a ticket at a future meeting.
Not all Berkeley neighborhoods require the permits. The program was designed to protect high-density areas from an influx of nonresident cars and traffic and allow residents an easier shot at finding parking on the street near their homes.
Much of the discussion Tuesday night was centered around shifting the burden from residents who buy the passes to raising the ticket fines on outsiders who park in residential neighborhoods for more than the allowable two hours.
"We're asking the residents to bear the burden, but the people who violate the system don't get the increase," said Councilwoman Susan Wengraf, who voted for the increase.
Only two residents showed up to a public hearing to speak about the increase Tuesday night. One of those was Mark Coplan, a Berkeley resident who also is the spokesman for the Berkeley school district.
"I think we already pay enough taxes to cover the costs of this program," Coplan said. "If you're thinking about putting it on the backs of the residents who already pay taxes, the fee should go down to about $12 a year. Parking should be a right in our neighborhood."
Doug Oakley covers Berkeley. Contact him at 510-843-1408. Follow him at Twitter.com/douglasoakley.