Council Dicusses More Ferry Parking

City of Alameda  This aerial view of the Harbor Bay ferry terminal shows the areas affected by the overflow parking.

Council Dicusses More Ferry Parking


Harbor Bay Ferry passengers are taking more than their allotted share of parking, the City Council learned last Tuesday. City Manager Jill Keimach informed the Council that an estimated 350 ferry riders drive and park at or near the terminal, even though the terminal’s lot only has a capacity for 250 vehicles. Keimach told the Council that “the remaining 100 or so vehicles park in adjacent residential neighborhoods and take up parking spaces that are intended for those using the shoreline park adjacent to the terminal. 

“This problem will only grow as the Harbor Bay ferry service gains popularity,” Keimach wrote in a memorandum to the Council. She pointed out that the Harbor Bay ferry service for this year has experienced a 19 percent increase in boardings over last year.

Homeowners in the adjacent Headlands and Columbia communities live on public streets under the city’s control. Three other neighborhood affected by the overflow parking — Bay Colony, Freeport and Cantamar — have private streets. Residents in these neighborhoods are considering implementing rules to prohibit parking by ferry users, Keimach stated in her memorandum. 

According to the city, surveys of Harbor Bay ferry users show that 94 percent of the riders live in Alameda, mostly on Harbor Bay and the East End. About half of these residents say that they walk, bike, or are dropped off at the ferry. 

To resolve the problem, the city has joined forces with the Water Emergency Transportation Authority (WETA) — the organization in charge of the ferries — and the affected Harbor Bay neighborhoods. Together they would implement a residential permit parking program to allow only four-hour parking in the Columbia and Headlands neighborhoods. The homeowners associations would issue permits to their residents to exempt them from the four-hour rule.  In addition the city would enforce two-hour parking along Adelphian Way. 

The affected homeowners associations would administer the parking permit program at their cost. The city would pitch in with an amended ordinance to help facilitate the specific circumstances of implementing these programs on public streets.

Parking enforcement for public streets would be provided by the Alameda Police Department, while the homeowner associations would bear responsibility for enforcing the four-hour parking on their streets. 

Additionally WETA and the city are considering levying a $2 or $3 per day charge to park at the ferry terminal parking lot. 

Revenue from these fees would help fund a free transit service and provide an incentive for ferry users to choose another option than driving to and parking at the ferry terminal. 

The city and WETA plan to call on AC Transit to help provide reliable free transit service and  improve the reliability of AC Transit’s existing Line 21 service through Harbor Bay, which is free for ferry riders. They also hope to extend the Harbor Bay Business Park’s free transit service to serve Harbor Bay residential communities and the East End. 

They hope to pay for this partly with the revenue the parking fees at the terminal lot generate. 

The city and WETA would also look for satellite parking locations for ferry riders along the transit rout. They hope to implement these solutions by Jan. 1, 2017. City staff, the Harbor Bay homeowner associations, and WETA plan to conduct an outreach campaign throughout this summer to solicit input from residents and ferry riders on the proposed plan.


San Francisco Bay Ferry While wrestling with parking issues tied to ferry service on Bay Farm Island, the city has also taken steps to help commuters taking the Main Street ferry. (See below.)

Main Street Terminal Parking Lot Added

On Monday, May 23, the city opened a new auxiliary paved parking lot on Main Street. Dubbed the “O’Lot,” the 121-space lot is located on Main Street about a quarter mile west of the ferry terminal. For those familiar with the area, the “O’Lot” is just across the street from the dog park. Parking in the new lot is free.