OAKLAND -- City officials gathered in Montclair Village on Tuesday to announce the official kickoff of the flexible parking district.
The district is the first of its kind in the city and features parking rates from $1 an hour to $2.50 an hour, depending on the desirability of the location.
"Today's work is a step in a series of projects to make parking easier in Oakland neighborhoods. The hope is that more people will come and shop in Montclair," Mayor Jean Quan said. The district went into effect on Monday.
Quan thanked District 4 Councilmember Libby Schaaf, who is a mayoral candidate, "for making this happen."
In 2011, Schaaf secured a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to study the parking patterns in the Montclair business district. The study concluded that there was a high demand for some blocks in Montclair Village and other blocks where virtually no one wanted to park, according to Bruce Stoffmacher, a policy analyst and community liaison for Schaaf's office.
By varying meter rates according to the desirability of the location -- coupled with 20 minutes of free parking in the garage on La Salle Avenue -- the city is hoping that the changes will make parking more convenient in Montclair.
Stoffmacher said he and Schaaf worked to keep half of the extra revenue generated by the district in Montclair to be used for capital improvements in the neighborhood.
"It's a triple win for Oakland. It's convenient; it will reduce greenhouse gases and will bring a little more money back to the district," Stoffmacher said.
"It's not really about generating parking revenue but generating sales tax revenue," said Joel Ramos, TransForm regional planning director.
If the pilot project proves successful in Montclair Village, it will be duplicated in other areas of the city, Quan said.
Daniel Swafford, executive director of the Montclair Village Association, was enthusiastic about the parking district.
"It means a lot that city government can focus on our needs and can keep us competitive with the malls," Swafford said.
"I don't understand people willing to spend $10 in gas to save $5 in parking. Now, with the flexible parking district on the street and the 20 minutes of free parking and validation program in the garage, we can support retailers and support a city that is really on the rise."
"I think it will be positive," said Ron Mooney, co-owner of Daisy. "People will stay longer, and there will be higher turnover in the more expensive places, leaving them open for shoppers that need to be close to the front door."
"It doesn't really make a difference. I will park where I need to park," said resident Susan Jordan. The whole parking thing bugs me.
"I'm a slave to the machines. I wish they would work all the time. I'm willing to pay more for parking if the extra money will go to capital improvements in the village."
For more about the flexible parking program in Montclair, go to: http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Parking/Montclair/index.htm.