Council Suspends Usage of Adeline Street Meters

Photo: Parking meters on Adeline Street in Berkeley will not be used for six months following a city council decision. Shops hope the move will encourage customers to return to the area.
Allyse Bacharach/Staff
Parking meters on Adeline Street in Berkeley will not be used for six months following a city council decision. Shops hope the move will encourage customers to return to the area.

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Customers who frequent businesses on Adeline Street in South Berkeley will have a little more change in their pockets for the next six months following the Berkeley City Council's resolution Tuesday to suspend the use of street parking meters between Woolsey Street and Alcatraz Avenue.

The resolution was adopted after several weeks of campaigning by business owners on Adeline, who complained that the meters - newly installed and running since September - have led to a drop in their customer base.

This suspension will apply to about 83 meters on Adeline, said Michael Caplan, economic development manager for the city.

"Because the area is isolated, the city manager thought maybe we should see if the moratorium would help (business owners) reclaim some of the business that they think they've lost," Caplan said. "It's always been a district that's had some challenges because of historic patterns of disinvestment."

The idea for the moratorium was developed through discourse between business owners and the city manager's office in August, according to Caplan. Farid Javandel, transportation manager for the city's Public Works Department, said the meters were not effective until September, though the city has had plans to install them since 2008, and have only been running for about six weeks.

Dave Nee, co-founder of The Other Change of Hobbit bookstore - a business he said has been hit hard by the installation of parking meters - added that although he understands the city's original desire to install meters in the area, he is not happy about their presence.

"I know the city is hard-pressed for cash, but this was not the right place to come looking for it," said Nee, adding that revenue at his location has decreased 33 percent, though customers still flocked to his store after the meters' 6 p.m. cutoff.

According to city documents, the moratorium will cost the city $13,000 to $14,000 over the six-month period. Meters on Adeline average about 90 cents in revenue per day, while others throughout the city average $5 per day, Caplan said.

Nee and Javandel both said business owners were not given adequate opportunity to protest the installation of the meters before the council approved them in 2008.

"There was a public council meeting at which the council decided to install the meters, so there was public process, but not extensive outreach," Javandel said. "(The Transportation Division) got involved to decide where exactly to put them and what time limits we should have - that's when we decided to seek input from the businesses."

The trend of meter reduction will not spread throughout the city, Caplan said, because parking meters are necessary to regulate the flow of parking around busier districts of Berkeley.

"It depends on how active your district is," he said. "In an area where you're competing just to get people to come to your district, meters aren't effective."

The council will track the economic progress of the area for the next six months and note whether customers return to Adeline in that time, he said.

Until then, the city's meter enforcement staff will monitor two-hour parking limits by chalking vehicle tires, as they did before the meters were installed. Javandel said the task is detrimental to the physical health of those patrolling the area.

"You can imagine the impact that has on the shoulders," he said.


Contact Sarah Mohamed at

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