By Don Ford

BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — Officials in Berkeley issued a warning for Cal football fans planning to drive to the game Friday night: a popular parking strategy is no longer such a great idea.

Anyone used to parking in one of the nearby neighborhoods around Memorial Stadium had better watch out. The parking rules have changed.

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The fine for parking without a residential permit used to be around fifty dollars.

“Now in certain areas the fines are going to be $225 for parking in those neighborhoods,” said Berkeley spokesperson Matthai Chakko. “Also in some neighborhoods, there will be immediate towing if you don’t have a permit for those neighborhoods.”

The affected areas are mainly just south of the stadium, but neighborhood “F” just north of the campus is also included in the new strict and expensive changes. The city said the changes were needed.

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“People coming in for games have been parking in front of people’s homes and sometimes parking in front of driveways and doing other things taking over parking spaces,” explained Chakko.

Several neighbors KPIX 5 spoke with confirmed that cars would fill the area during Cal games. Towing cars is a sensitive subject that no one wanted to go on camera to discuss, but tales of confrontations were common.

Frat row sometimes offers parking on their properties, charging $100 a car. The city says they often sell out, but the preferred parking is downtown.

The Center Street garage charges a $25 flat rate, while the Oxford Garage charges $20. The Telegraph Channing garage, with it’s iconic red exoskeleton, offers a $35 flat rate.

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Berkeley officials said the steep new fines apply only during game days.