Berkeley parking sign in trees.
A new residential parking permit system is on its way — slowly. Photo: Max Brimelow

Update 5:30 p.m. Shortly after Berkeleyside published its story on the new parking system, city officials announced revised dates to the implementation of the new residential parking permit system (RPP). The site launch has been put back three weeks, to July 22. And the use of license plate recognition in place of physical stickers for RPP will start one month later, on September 1. Parking citations from pre-June 24 are now suspended until July 22, but citations post-June 24 can be paid now.

Original story: Everything’s online these days. And that will soon include Berkeley’s brand new residential parking permit (RPP) system.

The new interface will allow Berkeleyans to purchase and renew permits, as well as pay fines instantly on the internet. But the system, which is supposed to go live Monday, July 1, is running behind schedule.

City spokesman Matthai Chakko said things might get worse before they get better. “There are definitely some kinks that we are working through,” he told Berkeleyside. “It’s a ridiculously complex set of factors that make something like this happen: it has to align with a number of laws, council policies, technologies, staff training, and changing of past practices.”

As such, those with valid permits expiring June 30 will enjoy a grace period until the online portal goes live. Until then, those buying new permits will have to use the old system.

What’s more, parking citations issued before June 24 will be suspended until they can be paid through the new process.

In the meantime letters from the city containing a link code for each car are being mailed out. Those letters will enable residents to create online accounts.

The change, which seems to be arriving neither quickly nor easily, is intended to make things quicker and easier.

“It should save everybody a lot of time,” Chakko added, “[but] we need community members’ help for this first year.” Namely this means not throwing out the city’s letters so that you can create an account, eventually. For those with connectivity issues, however, the prior, non-digital process will continue to operate.

The only significant change besides going digital is that car license plates will function as permits. That transition will render permit bumper stickers redundant, instead upgrading to license recognition technology the city says it has been using since 2016. However, Chakko says the August 1 start date for this element of the plan is also likely to be pushed back.

According to the city, data from the license recognition technology is kept for only 30 days, unless there is a violation. In that case, the data is stored for one year.

Aggregate data will (should) make it easier to assess how parking is used in Berkeley. The city currently uses demand-based pricing and time-limited systems in busier areas like Downtown and Elmwood, but there are no specific policy plans in residential areas. “If there are issues, we can deal with them better,” Chakko said. “And then we can propose solutions to those issues as they arise.”

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Max is a British shortform video journalist, most interested in the environment, social issues and sports. He currently works for Berkeleyside, both in print and video, for the summer of 2019. He is a...