BART Board hits a home run with latest vote for no minimum replacement parking at Plaza TOD

On October 28, the BART board met, and the El Cerrito Plaza Transit Oriented development was on the agenda. This time, the boare was to vote whether or not to adopt the goals and objectives for the station, including defining a range in the number of replacement parking spaces that should be included onsite.

The video of this agenda item can be viewed here, with this agenda item happening at the 2 hour 30 minute mark of the meeting.

(As an aside, it is particularly difficult for members of the public to participate in BART board meetings, as they occur during weekdays, and your agenda item of interest might come up when you have to do school drop offs / pick ups or be at work, etc.)

During their presentation, staff recommended a replacement parking range of 100 to 250 spaces. What was a surprise to many of us in the Plaza for the People community was the minimum of 100 spaces. For us, if BART can enable its riders to access the station without any replacement parking, that would better enable our vision for this Plaza station area to fulfill its potential as El Cerrito’s downtown and community destination.

Staff justified the 100 minimum spaces by recent data indicating 13% of current drive and park riders would need to continue driving and parking due to mobility challenges.

Of note is that the 13% figure is much higher than the 2019 survey which said only 3% of drivers needed to park due to mobility challenges.

BART Board Vice-President Rebecca Saltzman made a motion to lower the minimum to 60 spaces, with Director Janice Li offering an additional amendment to not set any minimum, and only set a maximum of 250 spaces. In a victory for the potential of this transit oriented development, the amended motion passed unanimously!

Now things shift to BART staff and the City of El Cerrito. They must work together to ensure that we are doing everything we can to get BART riders to the station without needing to drive. This means we need a clear commitment from the City of El Cerrito to create a managed parking program for the thousands of spaces that surround the station. We also need to see protected bike lanes on Central Avenue and/or Fairmount St, both for those coming from west of San Pablo Ave, as well as for those coming from the hills to the east. And we need to look at all options for bus/shuttle, for scooter/e-bike rentals, autonomous vehicles, and everything in between. These options need to move from the theoretical to a reality, so that when BART needs to decide on the final replacement parking number, the board can feel confident with having no replacement parking onsite, aside from ADA and BART maintenance / staff needs. If there truly is $40 million available for access improvements, let’s see those dollars to go eliminate the need for any replacement parking at all.

What can members of the community do?

  • Send an email thanking the BART board members for their votes to not set any parking minimum:
    • BoardofDirectors@bart.gov
    • Rebecca.Saltzman@bart.gov
    • Janice.Li@bart.gov
  • Speak out at the upcoming El Cerrito City Council meeting on November 2 during the opening public comment time, asking the city to start working with BART right now to design the managed parking program, and to put in protected bike lanes in the east-west direction to improve access to BART.

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