While Oakland parking meter changes have been in the news lately, we didn’t have a complete read on how Montclarions felt and decided to launch a parking preference survey. Now we can report that locals seem particularly bothered by extended meter kiosk hours and are less concerned about the rate increases per se.
Most survey takers visit Montclair frequently and will continue to run errands around the village. Some respondents said they may increase their trips to neighboring cities, due to the hassles of extended hours and kiosks. Over time, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Meter Hours Really Matter
We learned that extending the meter kiosks to 8pm was the biggest irritant, with 59 percent giving the move a resounding thumbs-down and another 6 percent saying it wasn’t okay. Having a three-hour ticket option, starting at 5pm, has helped to ease the pain – some 24 percent gave it a thumbs-up and 41 percent said it was okay with them.
Of course, Montclarions do have unlimited daytime hours at the local parking garage. While parking up on La Salle solves the meter hour problem, over 31 percent report they never even use this garage. Based on the results, we believe that respondents like to drive right up to their store or restaurant of choice.
Fewer Montclarions were ticked off about the $2 per hour rates imposed by the City Council, with only 29 percent who gave it thumbs-down and 18 percent who said it wasn’t okay. If the garage charged $2 per hour, then just 18 percent were thumbs-down and 18 percent were not okay with this rate.
Montclarions Speak Out
Montclarions have reacted strongly to the combination of later meter hours and fees. “If I am dining out, I would much prefer to dine in Berkeley or Emeryville to save an extra $6 or a pricey parking ticket,” explained one survey taker.
Another Montclarion declared that parking changes impact “the laissez-faire feeling of the Village after 6pm – to park free, time to walk, get coffee, a drink, get dinner, schmooze with friends. Doesn’t quality of life mean anything anymore?”
A different respondent echoed that sentiment: “The extended hours on the meters…l don’t like it. [It’s] revenue to the city, but a big drawback for our local restaurants. Would I eat at Crogan’s and shop in the village or make the long haul elsewhere?”
One parent expressed frustration with the parking system itself, because “kiosks are hard for people with small children and babies to navigate. I would rather pay more and avoid the kiosks.”
Others are more circumspect about the parking situation. “I gripe about parking as much as the next person,” admitted one survey taker. “Actually, in my experience, parking in Oakland is not so bad; it’s definitely better than parking in Berkeley.”
“Parking fees have very little effect on where I shop,” stated another local. “I go for convenience, and nice places. Parking is a small fraction of the costs/decisions I make, though I do look for free spots when available.”
Where Montclarions Shop
We also asked Montclarions where they shop, and confirmed that everyone depends on the village. A whopping 50 percent said they make more than ten visits/month and 8 percent said they make 6-10 visits to the village. Some 44 percent spend over 10 hours and 17 percent spend 6-10 hours parked monthly in Montclair.
Despite the fears of village proprietors, few Montclarions said they would make wholesale changes in shopping and dining destinations based on these parking changes. The survey asked about many alternative destinations, how often they shopped there, and whether the parking rates would impact their behaviors:
- Rockridge – This district is popular with Montclarions, with 100 percent reporting at least one visit monthly and 33 percent making six or more visits. Given the parking rate increase, 39 percent said they would go there more often for free parking spots.
- Other Oakland – Some 88 percent reported at least one visit monthly to Glenview, 61 percent to downtown, and 92 percent to the rest of Oakland. Under 25 percent reported six-plus times monthly visits, and there were no plans to shift shopping to these other Oakland districts.
- Emeryville and Berkeley – Montclarions already drive to Emeryville (83 percent) and Berkeley (96 percent) at least once monthly. Now 33 percent said they would visit Emeryville more often and park free, while 22 percent said the same about Berkeley. Under 20 percent would consider visiting more, even if they paid there.
- Orinda and Lafayette – Some 35 percent of Montclarions visit at least once monthly. Survey takers said they would drive to Orinda (22 percent) or Lafayette (18 percent) more often and park free. They also would consider going more often, even if they fed meters.
At the end of the day, Montclarions are trying to take things in stride but are clearly disappointed by the later meter hours and restrictions. We see an attitude shift because locals are willing to drive more frequently to other cities for shopping and dining. However they (we) remain devoted to Montclair Village, and no one is abandoning ship.