More Parking Suggested for Harbor Bay Ferry Riders

Commuters get more parking, though less than sought.


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Ferry parking is crowded but some relief is coming.

Photo by Chris Duffey

 

There is relief coming for neighbors of the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal who are tired of commuters parking in front of their homes—but not as much relief as some people wanted.

After months of heated discussion, the Transportation Commission passed a recommendation to add 46 parking spots to busy Harbor Bay Parkway. But the committee decided against adding an additional 24 spaces to Adelphian Way and threw out consideration of adding spaces on Mecartney Road because such parking spaces would interfere with existing bike lanes.

The move was a compromise until the city can come up with what is really needed, both sides said. What would solve the parking problem is a new parking garage or parking lot, they said. Other ideas that have surfaced have included AC Transit shuttles, improved bike and motorcycle parking in the existing ferry lot, and even a parking permit system for residents or paid ferry lot parking.

“Several people have said we should build a garage or parking lot, but there’s just no source of funding for that,” said commission member Eric Schatmeier.

Ferry ridership has soared over the past two years, thanks in part to the 2013 BART strike, construction on the Bay Bridge, and a growing number of bike commuters. The city is meeting its goal of getting people out of their cars—but not everyone is happy about it.

Residents who live around the Harbor Bay Ferry Terminal said that after the 251 free spaces in the lot are taken by commuters, hundreds of other cars spill into the neighborhoods, blocking mailboxes, preventing guests from parking at homes, and sometimes trampling flowers.

After months of meetings, the city’s Transportation Commission came up with a compromise that adds 46 spaces along the bay side of Harbor Bay Parkway, but it doesn’t allow an extra 24 spots of unrestricted parking on Adelphian Way. Those spots are still for only two hours, intended for people who are using Shoreline Park. The city stopped enforcing the two-hour parking limit during the BART strike, and it has been largely ignoring those limits ever since. Residents, however, want to keep those spaces available for nature lovers, and the city will return to enforcing the time limits. All of the parking is restricted from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Ferries run on weekdays.

Right now, there are 1,150 daily ferry trips, or half that number of people if the same ones are going back and forth, Kevin Connolly, the Water Emergency Transportation Authority’s manager for planning and development, told the commission at its April 22 meeting. WETA manages the ferry service. But the agency said it expects ridership to grow 5 percent to 7 percent each year over the next four years. Connolly also announced a new 6 p.m. weekday ferry arrival to the schedule that runs from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“We need to provide adequate parking both in the long term and the short term,” said Schatmeier, who also lives in the neighborhood and made the motion to approve the staff’s proposal. “Just because the long-term problem will not be solved, doesn’t mean we ignore the short term. We have an immediate need for parking.”

Schatmeier said some of his neighbors have put up signs asking drivers not to park in front of their mailboxes, but he added, that while it can be inconvenient, the mailman gets through.

The city will remove the northbound left turn lane on Harbor Bay Parkway at Adelphian Way to fit the parking and will enforce the two-hour limits on Adelphian Way. The city will also put up posters to let commuters know they will be ticketed on Adelphian Way if they fail to adhere to the two-hour time limit. It can take eight weeks to educate people to the changes, the city staff’s report said.

“What the city’s staff has done is admirable,” Schatmeier said. “They have found a solution that would add parking and relieve pressure. It maintains a ridership that has grown. I think we should all want that as Alamedans.”

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