The city-sponsored goBerkeley campaign is based on the concept of demand-responsive pricing. Image: City of Berkeley
The city-sponsored goBerkeley campaign is based on the concept of demand-responsive pricing. Click to view larger. Image: City of Berkeley

After months of outreach and planning, new parking meter rules designed to change business-as-usual in three commercial districts in Berkeley go into effect Tuesday, Oct. 15.

The changes, under the moniker goBerkeley, are designed to make it easier for drivers to find parking spaces in three of the city’s busiest commercial areas, and to cut down on pollution associated with circling to find a spot. The city says it hopes goBerkeley will make it easier for visitors “to dine, shop and enjoy the arts in three of the City’s most vibrant districts,” according to a statement released by officials last week.

The goBerkeley model is based on the concept of “demand-responsive” pricing, so that prices reflect demand in several congested areas around town. The hope is to free up one or two spaces per block, by raising or adjusting the pricing in a way that will encourage some of the people currently filling spaces to move a bit farther away or use alternative modes of transportation. The city has been studying current parking demand, and plans to analyze how the changes affect behavior.

“If it does what we hope it will – increase parking while decreasing pollution and traffic – the impact is huge,” said city spokesman Matthai Chakko. 

The three areas slated to see changes are downtown Berkeley, southside and The Elmwood. The changes that begin Tuesday, Oct. 15, will last for at least a year, with more data collection and reviews scheduled in 2014. Parking days and hours are not set to change at this time.

In both downtown and southside — south of campus around Telegraph Avenue — changes were designed to allow longer time limits in a new “value” parking zone, to in turn create more available spaces in the “premium” higher-demand zone closer to central destinations. (See the map above for details and view a flier about the new rates and zones here.)

Parking in the premium zone will be allowed for two hours at most, and cost $2.25 per hour. A 4-hour-maximum value zone west of downtown will cost $1.25 an hour, and an 8-hour-maximum value zone southeast of campus — at College Avenue where it hits Channing Way, Haste Street and Dwight Way — will cost just $1 an hour.

Metered parking around The Elmwood under the goBerkeley plan. Image: City of Berkeley
Metered parking around The Elmwood under the goBerkeley plan. (Click to view larger.) Image: City of Berkeley

The program will work a bit differently in The Elmwood.

City staff established a premium zone around College Avenue, from Webster Street north to Russell Street, with a three-hour limit that costs more for each consecutive hour of parking. The first hour costs $1.50, the second $2 and the third $2.50.

City transportation planners said, ultimately, the goal would be to lower prices in city-owned parking garages to boost the incentive to use them. The hourly rate inside city-owned garages could eventually go down to $1 per hour to spur people to use them more, but that depends in part on the city’s loan commitments for the garages, city officials said earlier this year.

“The goal is to free up 1 to 2 spaces on every block and make it easier to find parking – reducing frustration and traffic as well as pollution from circling drivers. People already come to these Berkeley districts by bike, bus, BART, foot and car. Now, each of those modes should be even easier – creating a balance that allows all to move more freely,” according to a statement from the city.

The program also paid for 1,000 AC Transit Easy Passes and secured City CarShare business discounts to area workers for one year as a way to encourage traveling without a personal car.

The program is funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Climate Initiatives Program ($2 million); the Federal Highways Administration’s Value Pricing Pilot Program ($900,000), and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District ($100,000).

The city’s partners in the endeavor include the Downtown Berkeley Association, Telegraph Business Improvement District and Elmwood Merchants Association, as well as AC Transit, City CarShare and TransForm.

For more information, visit

goBerkeley parking rules get final public review (for now) (08.08.13)
2 goBerkeley public meetings on parking coming up (07.31.13)
Details unveiled on proposed metered parking changes (07.03.13)
City sets goBerkeley transportation program in motion (06.27.13)
Berkeley council weighs in on parking pilot program (06.12.13)
Parking changes slated for 3 Berkeley business zones (05.23.13)
goBerkeley answers frequently asked questions (City of Berkeley)
Take the goBerkeley parking survey (goBerkeley)

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Emilie Raguso (former senior editor, news) joined Berkeleyside in 2012 and covered politics, public safety and development until her departure in 2022. In 2017, Emilie was named Journalist of the Year...