January 1, 1990
EBRPD Board of Directors
Attn: Mary Lee Jefferds
11500 Skyline Blvd.
Oakland, California 94619-2443
Re: Free Parking
I am happy to support the parks in any way that I can. They are, to me, one of the most precious resources of our region (next to true wilderness, which is dangerously rare these days). I also appreciate special benefits for members, when they make sense. Anyone who voluntarily works for the common good should be rewarded.
However, your "membership benefit" of "Free Parking at All Facilities". Is not appropriate, and should be dropped. It is well known that the Bay Area fails to meet either the state or federal air quality standards. It is also well known that the reason for this failure is our not curtailing auto trips and auto mileage (because of the "cold start" and "running losses" (also known as the "hot soak"), the trips are more important). Consequently, it is very important to do everything in our power to reduce our dependence on the automobile -- to make auto trips less necessary. As a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Transportation Control Measure Task Force, I am aware that eliminating free parking is high on the region's list of priorities in our efforts to meet the requirements of the state and federal Clean Air Acts and clean up the Bay Area's air.
One of the primary functions of the parks is, of course, environmental education. Eliminating free parking of all forms, together with an increase in transit access, is a great educational tool. The vast majority of park users would understand and support such a change, if well presented.
Free parking is an insult to all non-drivers. Those who get to the parks via walking, bicycling, or buses get no such subsidy, although they deserve such a subsidy even more than those who drive. Do you know, for example, that 4.5 million Californians have a non-driver California I.D.?
Over-crowded facilities, such as the Tilden Park Steam Train, would benefit from the institution of a parking charge, in order to avert the need for constructing more parking. Of course, this should be separate from the train ticket, so as not to force environmentally aware patrons to subsidize parking.
Let's make the 1990's the decade to eliminate subsidies to the automobile, and restore the clean air that attracted most of us to the Bay Area in the first place!
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.