In case you are a Berkeley taxpayer, have a child in Berkeley Unified Faculty District (BUSD), or are simply somebody who cares about local weather change, you need to oppose BUSD’s plans to spend $27.5 million from Measure G to construct a parking storage with tennis courts on prime, instantly throughout from Berkeley Excessive Faculty (BHS). The measure, handed in 2020, is a $380 million college building bond.
We help our lecturers and the wants of the BHS tennis staff, which has been with out a dwelling courtroom for 20 years. However, for not less than three causes, it’s a severe mistake to proceed with this undertaking.
Firstly, there may be already an abundance of empty parking in downtown Berkeley. And a lot of the spots are city-owned. In 2018, town constructed a 720-space garage on Heart Road utilizing borrowed cash. Ever because it opened (even pre-pandemic), the Heart Road storage is 40% empty on weekdays. That’s over 280 free areas. Two different non-public garages near BHS have 610 and 262 areas, 250 and 80 of that are additionally vacant. As a result of Heart Road’s income is under projections, town is paying the bondholders from the general fund $3.8 million last year and another $10 million by 2024. In different phrases, taxpayers have already paid for loads of parking downtown twice over. We don’t must pay to construct extra.
Secondly, we have to cease encouraging driving and pouring cash into an unsustainable transportation system. As local weather change ravages our planet, we have to take daring motion. BUSD already recognizes that “transportation is the primary supply of local weather emissions within the Metropolis of Berkeley” and their sustainability plan goals to chop single-family automotive journeys in half by 2025. BUSD’s massive employees have to be a part of this plan, particularly in Berkeley’s most transit-rich, bikeable, walkable neighborhood. Some employees do need to drive, however by offering free parking, we’re subsidizing driving and sabotaging our personal local weather targets. As a substitute of constructing parking, BUSD ought to develop a complete Transportation Demand Administration (TDM) program, similar to different massive Berkeley employers. TDMs present incentives to not drive. For BUSD, that would imply offering a commuter allowance and charging market-rate costs for parking. TDM applications usually reduce demand for parking by about 25%.
Lastly, enhancing lecture rooms and serving to college students thrive ought to be the main focus of Measure G funds. The proposed website sits instantly throughout from BHS and is a singular alternative to protect house for our college students. We should always not waste this valuable useful resource on everlasting automotive storage when we now have different present and future wants that might higher serve our college students. In 50 years, non-public automobiles could also be a factor of the previous. However we’ll nonetheless have youngsters who deserve a world-class schooling.
Implementing a sturdy TDM program, paving the lot for tennis, and never constructing this storage is a $25 million present to our college students that preserves our choices sooner or later (assuming tennis courts would price ~$2.5 million). BUSD ought to as an alternative negotiate with town and personal garages to purchase or lease the alternative parking from the 610 vacant spots within the neighborhood. Importantly, these negotiations shouldn’t be carried out by the BUSD Services Division. You don’t let the fox guard the henhouse.
If you happen to agree with all or any of those factors, please contact the varsity board and allow them to know you’re additionally towards constructing a storage and that you just’d fairly use Measure G for enhancing our lecture rooms and help areas. Our achievement hole remains to be yawning. We should always spend Measure G on closing it, not on storing automobiles. We’re sensible in Berkeley. We will perceive fairness, surroundings, and economics all on the identical time.
Liza Lutzker is a BUSD dad or mum, a public well being researcher at UC Berkeley, Protected Routes to Faculty dad or mum champion, and a coordinating committee member of Stroll Bike Berkley. Ken Berland is a BUSD dad or mum, a software program growth supervisor at Amazon Music, and member of the Citizen’s Bond Oversight Committee for Measure G. Damian Park is a BUSD dad or mum, an economics lecturer at Santa Clara College, and chair of the Residents’ Bond Oversight Committee for Measure G. Douglas Legg is a BUSD dad or mum and a Deputy Metropolis Administrator for town of San Francisco overseeing capital planning, belongings and infrastructure. Cielo Rios is a BUSD dad or mum, Chicana, Fairness VP of the Emerson PTA, and an advocate for the kids in our neighborhood.