Oakland’s Department of Transportation is finally taking shape, and it can’t come soon enough. In the latest example of poor attention to detail in street design, the City has neglected to reinstall parking meters on a busy stretch of Grand Avenue in the middle of one of the City’s densest neighborhoods.
The northern sidewalk on Grand Avenue was recently rebuilt between Bellevue Avenue and Euclid Avenue as a part of the AveVista project, a 68 unit affordable housing development that opened two months ago. However, the existing parking meters were not replaced in the reconstruction effort (the development also included 97 off-street parking spaces – an extremely high amount for an affordable housing project in a walkable, transit-oriented location). This block now provides the only free, unrestricted parking on Grand Avenue between the city limits and West Oakland.
Unmetered and unrestricted parking on Grand not only cuts city revenues, but also reduces parking turnover – limiting access to nearby businesses and Lake Merritt, and increasing traffic associated with circling around seeking open parking spaces. Small oversights like this may not make a huge difference by themselves, but when such oversights are scaled citywide – like the misapplication of pedestrian “beg buttons” – it produces a dysfunctional transportation network. These mistakes are easily fixable, though, and Oakland has enjoyed a number of recent complete streets achievements. Hopefully the new Department of Transportation can capitalize on this momentum and avoid such mistakes in the future.