GIG users in downtown Oakland have a high risk of receiving parking tickets due to street sweeping, which occurs daily around midnight on most streets, such as the south (left) and north (right) sides of 21st Street in Uptown.

GIG Carshare, AAA’s new one-way carsharing system, has been a welcome addition to the inner East Bay’s transportation system. GIG generally provides a convenient, affordable travel option, but a critical flaw has surfaced for users parking in downtown Oakland: street sweeping tickets. Due to a combination of GIG’s policies, Oakland’s street sweeping schedules, and strict City enforcement, GIG users face an unusually high likelihood of receiving parking tickets for street sweeping Downtown unless exercising an acute level of diligence.

(Source: GIG)

On a typical Monday through Saturday, a GIG trip during the afternoon or evening that ends downtown has up to a 50-percent chance of receiving a $91 street sweeping ticket. This high chance of ticketing is due to a combination of three factors:

  • GIG’s Member Agreement states that drivers cannot park in sweeping zones within 12 hours of street sweeping.
  • Sweeping occurs six days a week beginning at either 12 AM or 3 AM on nearly all of downtown Oakland’s streets, often a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule for odd addresses and a Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday schedule for even addresses. Along a few streets such as Broadway, street sweeping occurs daily on both sides of the street, while a handful of Lakeside streets have street sweeping two days a week.
  • Oakland strictly enforces street sweeping zones, routinely ticketing violators at 3:00 AM within downtown, including GIG cars. Tickets are $66, while GIG adds a $25 processing fee.

In practice, the combination of these policies creates a cash cow for parking tickets for the City and processing fees for GIG. A GIG user parking around downtown must 1) memorize the street sweeping provision in the member agreement, since GIG’s app does not provide notifications to integrate with the City’s street sweeping schedule; 2) read all street parking signs during every trip; and 3) plan up to 12 hours ahead to confirm that street sweeping will not occur the next day. Considering most of downtown’s parking is well-utilized two hour zones, this level of diligence and planning is far from intuitive when hunting for a parking space.

For example after circling around and finding a parking space at lunchtime on a Wednesday, few people will think to walk to the nearest sign and check if the space is subject to street sweeping beginning at midnight on Thursday. GIG’s turnover rate during commute hours reduces the risk of these extreme cases, but anecdotal observations suggest a high rate of ticketing persists, particularly for users who park beginning in the early evenings when turnover is lower.

Street sweeping occurs around midnight at least six days a week in Downtown Oakland (red), versus once a week (yellow) or a couple days a month (green) during the morning outside of Downtown. (Source: Arc GIS Online Oakland Street Sweeping Map)

Considering downtown Oakland is a great place to live or work without a car, GIG should play a valuable role in the downtown transportation system for trips that aren’t easy by walking, biking, or transit. Instead, the high risk of ticketing uniquely affects downtown Oakland because of the frequency and timing of street sweeping, disproportionately penalizing downtown users. A downtown resident who needs occasional use of a car may be better off owning one or using Zipcar than subjecting themselves to frequent GIG tickets.

GIG and the City both need to relax their street sweeping policies within downtown. It’s counterproductive for the City to ticket GIG cars, and it’s unfair for GIG to pass the cost of these tickets to users with a surcharge for otherwise legal parking actions 12 hours prior. GIG is a great product, but the predatory ticketing of users within downtown Oakland risks alienating members. A more reasonable street sweeping parking policy for GIG cars specific to downtown Oakland would help save everyone a lot of headaches.