Prompted by a flurry of complaints from Edgewood Drive residents about safety, litter, and influx of cars from East Palo Alto residents across the bridge, Palo Alto has responded with new parking restrictions and road improvements near Newell Road.
The problem of inadequate parking has been a constant theme around downtown in recent years, though it's a relatively new one for residents near the Newell Road bridge. Recent parking restrictions on the East Palo Alto side of the bridge have reportedly prompted drivers to cross the bridge and park their cars on the Palo Alto side, irking local residents.
In early January, a dozen Edgewood Drive residents complained about the sudden shortage of parking and the increase in speeding and litter on their block. On Wednesday night, a few more attended the Planning and Transportation Commission meeting to discuss the city's recent actions to address these problems.
The response from city planners has been swift. They imposed a "no parking anytime" restriction on Newell Road, between Edgewood and the Newell Road bridge, and added red striping at curbs near intersections. Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez said the city also plans to restripe the yellow center lines on Newell Road next week.
Rodriguez received major kudos for these steps from some Edgewood Drive residents at the Wednesday night meeting, though some warned that these steps aren't enough. Several residents said that these initial steps don't fully solve the problem, merely push it to other blocks. They lobbied for more substantive solutions such as parking permits.
"My belief is that the real solution is to require permits for overnight parking on Edgewood as well as further down Newell if necessary," resident Irving Rappaport told the commission. "And the other part of the solution is to get cooperation from East Palo Alto to deal with its part of the problem instead of pushing their problems onto the Palo Alto side of the bridge."
Ben Ball, who also lives on Edgwood Drive, said he appreciates the efforts of city planners to improve the situation. But the "parking crisis" remains, he said. "We've been told it'll take months and months to come up with a way to solve the problem, not withstanding the support we have of our Edgewood Drive neighbors," Ball said.
The city's process for creating residential parking-permit programs is a long one, as residents from the Professorville neighborhood know all too well. After lobbying the city for several years to create a permit program in their parking-deprived downtown neighborhood, they finally convinced city planners last year to design such a program and to implement it on a trial basis. The City Council, however, scrapped the pilot program before it launched and directed staff to pursue more comprehensive solutions to downtown's parking woes.
Palo Alto is now pursuing studies to gauge downtown's capacity for development and to evaluate the city's options for new parking facilities.