By Da Lin

LAFAYETTE (KPIX) — The search for a parking spot at the Lafayette BART station is about to get harder. City leaders recently decided to remove about 12 percent of the spaces in the south lot, which has approximately 150 spots.

The city is getting rid of 19 spaces in front of the south station entrance to put in a roundabout for pick-ups and drop-offs. They’ll also add a sculpture on top of the roundabout. The project will improve a pedestrian walkway, add more bike lockers and create a new bike valet station.

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“[Its benefits are] gateway, access and safety,” said Lafayette mayor Mike Anderson.

The mayor said the artwork will help promote the city’s image when visitors exit the BART station. It will also lead people to downtown. He admitted it’s tough to lose parking when there is already a huge demand for more parking at the station.

“There is a sacrifice of the 19 spaces. We think the pedestrian access and the bike access will be more important ultimately in making that an acceptable trade,” said Mayor Anderson.

A cyclist who takes BART daily said he’s all in support of the art project. Erik Khan loves that the plan adds more bike lockers.

“It’s a good move. I think we should have more [bike lockers] like this and we should encourage people maybe not drive to work everyday,” Khan said.

The Lafayette BART station has a parking permit wait list of 3,819 people.

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“There’s no open spots. This BART lot fills up everyday,” said Lafayette vice mayor Susan Candell.

“Even at 6 in the morning, it could be packed,” said another BART rider.

Many drivers who park at the lot are frustrated the city is removing the spaces.

“It’s a great mistake the way it is, let alone taking away additional [parking]. It’s nuts is all I can say,” said Marlene Cowan, who often uses the Lafayette station.

Vice mayor Candell is the only leader who voted down the art project at the May 13 city council meeting. She said she loves the “Dandelion Seeds” sculpture but it’s the wrong place to put it.

“I don’t want it harder for our residents to get to work. I want to make it easier for them to get to work,” said vice mayor Candell. “And so 19 spots is 19 fewer residents getting to work on time.”

She said the city should put the artwork at the existing roundabout, which is about 100 feet away from the south BART entrance. But other city leaders want it in front of the station to serve as a gateway to downtown Lafayette. They also say the existing roundabout is not a safe place for pick-ups and drop-offs.

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The city said the $230,000 art project is being paid for by Woodbury Highlands developer fees. The plan is for construction to be completed by the summer of 2020.