Crescent Park gets a ban on overnight parking

Residents concerned about spillover from East Palo Alto settle for 'imperfect' solution

Crescent Park residents seeking a cure for their parking pains received a Band-Aid on Monday night, when Palo Alto officials banned overnight parking at a particularly congested section of the neighborhood.

The ban, which the City Council passed unanimously, aims to address a recent intrusion into the residential neighborhood from East Palo Alto, where residents dealing with their own parking shortages routinely cross the Newell Street bridge and park across the border. The problem has gotten so bad that many Crescent Park residents have rallied behind a ban that would keep them from parking on their own streets unless they buy a permit.

For many, that was a worthy price to pay to relief. Things have become particularly dire over the past two years, as Equity Residential took over the apartment complexes formerly owned by Page Mill Properties and begun renovating the aged buildings. As a result, occupancy has increased from around 70 percent to the mid-90s, according to Marty McKenna, spokesman from Equity.

With increased occupancy, Palo Alto residents on Edgewood Drive and nearby streets have seen their blocks fill up at night. In many cases, owners have been blocking driveways and leaving trash behind, residents told the council Monday.

Some said crime has been on the rise. Dan Hansen, a resident of Edgewood Drive, said his car had been broken into. Frank Branson, who also lives on Edgewood, said his home was burglarized in July of 2012 and his family no longer feels safe. Burglars, he said, methodically went through the house room by room, ransacking the place.

"Our home was damaged. Personal property was stolen," Branson said. "We felt violated and it was an emotionally traumatic experience to go through."

Palo Alto planning officials on Monday attributed the parking problem to a large extent on Equity's inability to provide its tenants with adequate parking. Each unit at Equity's properties gets one spot. While acting Planning Director Aaron Aknin said Monday that the company had been charging residents for additional parking spots, McKenna said this is not the case. The number of parking spaces is very limited, he said, but that's not because of any changes that Equity had made to the parking policy at its properties, he said.

"We haven't changed anything that's going on," McKenna told the Weekly. "Everything is the same."

He said Equity is trying to deal with the growing parking problem by opening two new lots to accommodate the parking demand. The two lots would make 88 new spots available, though the company plans to charge residents who wish to use them.

Under Palo Alto's new restriction, parking on selected blocks will be banned between 2 and 5 a.m. The impacted segments include Edgewood Drive, between Southwood and Jefferson drives; Hamilton Avenue, between Island Drive and Madison Way; small segments of Dana Avenue north and south of Newell; and Newell, between Dana and Edgewood. Residents who wish to park on these streets at night would be able to buy $5 permits.

The solution, many agreed, falls far short of what most residents have been clamoring for since late 2011: a residential permit parking program of the sort that exists in College Terrace. A permit program would limit the time nonresidents can park in this section of Crescent Park. The city has decided not to pursue this solution at Crescent Park at this time because officials are now in the midst of designing a permit-program prototype that any neighborhood can later adopt.

The overnight ban is a temporary measure and, from most perspectives, an imperfect one. But Jane Kershner, an Edgewood Drive resident, spoke for many when she said the streets need immediate help.

"We're looking for some relief now," Kershner said. "We're looking for some help, some support from you to help send the message to the property owners and the city of East Palo Alto."

The council proved sympathetic to the residents' requests and swiftly approved a staff recommendation to adopt the ban, which only applies to the blocks where at least 70 percent of the residents support the new restriction. According to the city's survey, support on Edgewood was nearly unanimous, though it dipped to 70s and 80s on segments of Edgewood and Hamilton that are further away from Newell Road. Around Dana, it dipped to 30 percent north of Newell and 54 percent south of Newell.

In its discussion, the council characterized the solution as imperfect but necessary. Councilman Larry Klein praised the neighbors for their patience and concluded that it's time to act.

"I think we do need to take some steps that really make clear that this is not an acceptable solution for Palo Alto," Klein said. "This isn't only the way to help our residents but to send a message to the owner of apartment buildings and the municipal government of East Palo Alto that we really have to move forward on this. We have to change the status quo."

Councilman Marc Berman, who conducted his own field research in this neighborhood earlier this year, said he counted 63 cars during a midnight venture in January. He described a situation in which some blocks have very little parking while others are completely congested.

"There was very light residential parking, very light parking and then bumper to bumper," Berman said. "There definitely is a problem here. It definitely is something that I think is tied to the apartment problem in East Palo Alto."

He praised the residents for collaborating with the city and pledged to do a better job reaching out to his counterparts on the East Palo Alto council to come up with a more stable solution.

Yet Klein and Councilwoman Liz Kniss also predicted that with the ban, there is a risk that the parking problems will simply move further into the neighborhood. Kniss predicted that many people will be willing to walk the longer distances for free parking.

"I wouldn't be surprised if we're back in a month with people saying, 'We want to be part of this,'" Kniss said.

Council members also acknowledged that their options are somewhat limited because the problem they are dealing with are rooted in a different jurisdiction and stem from policies formed by the apartment owner, Equity Residential, which is headquartered in Chicago. Equity bought the roughly 1,800 units from Wells Fargo in 2011, roughly two years after Page Mill Properties defaulted on its $50 million loan from the bank and lost control of its vast portfolio in the Woodland Park neighborhood.

Vice Mayor Nancy Shepherd predicted that this will not be the "end of Equity Residential" for Palo Alto and proposed that the city do a "firm reach-out" to the apartment giant so that "we can stay connected while they pursue their investment in the community." Glenn Campbell, an East Palo Alto resident and an Equity tenant, encouraged this dialogue even as he opposed the ban, which he said would only serve to punish hard-working people on the other side of the bridge.

"Most of my neighbors -- most of whom look nothing like any of us (here) -- are good hard-working, blue-collar people, trying hard to raise families in an environment that we created that requires dual incomes just to keep above the water," Campbell said. "They don't have a place to put both of those cars. They are not people who should be bearing the brunt of this. We should be dealing directly with the Equity apartment owners."


Posted by Mike, a resident of University South
on Aug 13, 2013 at 6:32 am

I'm just curious. How much does Equity Residential charge for a parking spot?

Posted by boscoli, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2013 at 6:50 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2013 at 6:50 am

Compare how quickly the city staff & city council acted on the parking problem with Crescent Park, versus what Downtown has faced...

The difference is that the council is heavily influenced by the real estate developers in downtown, and they can extract money from them through granting higher density variances. They can't do the same with East Palo Alto real estate developer so Council Member Klein says " to send a message ".

So Klein what message did you send when you approved Maybell Ave PC zoning change, Lytton Gateway PC zoning change, Alma Village PC zoning change, et al?

And why is the Lytton Gateway building over half way to completion and still no parking plan for Downtown? Didn't the developers pay their money already to help solve the underparking?

Posted by Mamacita, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2013 at 8:30 am

When my son lived in EPA, he was charged $100 per month per parking spot at an apartment complex owned by Equity Residential. That was five years may be higher now.

However, cost and safety were why he parked across the Newell St bridge. His truck had its windows smashed in twice in a row while living in EPA.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2013 at 9:22 am

Glad that the Council approved the ban. But what kind of enforcement will be involved? Will the police issue citations? Will residents be encouraged to call the police when there are cars parked on these streets when the ban is in effect?

> Councilman Marc Berman, who conducted his own field research in this
> neighborhood earlier this year, said he counted 63 cars during a
> midnight venture in January. He described a situation in which some
> blocks have very little parking while others are completely congested.

It's good that Councilman Berman was willing to make this effort--but why didn't the City Manager instruct the police to make counts of the parked cards when they were patrolling this area? It would have only taken a few minutes for a count to be made, giving the Council, and the residents, some evidence about this problem that would have come from a credible source.

Leaving us with the final question--why didn't the City opt for the solution requested by the residents?

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2013 at 9:37 am

I suspect that this will just move the problem rather than solve it.

These cars need to park somewhere so they will find another spot to do so even if it means that they have to walk further.

This is typical of what Palo Alto does. Instead of solving a parking problem, they just move it.

I know that it appears that these cars are from EPA residents, but unless there is a move to find parking at the residences of these car owners, somebody else will have a parking problem soon.

Posted by What?, a resident of Stanford
on Aug 13, 2013 at 9:47 am

"Intrusion"? "Border?" Weekly, you're disgusting with your pandering. The quotes about crime - do some fact-checking. It's not fact that there's a crime increase due to people parking in thst area. Very poor journalism on your part and typical snobbery on the residents' part.

Posted by DUVENECK SCHOOL PARENT, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2013 at 9:48 am

With the overnight parking restrictions pushing the parking issue further into the neighborhood. I see another issue arising, it is one of increased parking issues & traffic at Duveneck School once it school is in session. As non-residents are moving their cars in the morning traffic will now increase around the area of Duveneck school. Why is the council not willing to extend the parking restriction to included the area around Duveneck school? We do not need more traffic and less parking around the school when school is in session. The safety of our childern need to be taken in account with the implementaion of the overnight parking ban..... In addition this will also further impact the residents around Duveneck school in terms of parking congestion in the morning and now in the evening.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2013 at 9:50 am

Nice to see that the city council supported the plea to give residents some immediate relief. That said, i'm sure the residents on the impacted streets as well as the residents who are going to feel the pain of parked cars pushing to their streets would strongly prefer a resident parking permit program.

Staff and council should recoginize that the parking issues in Crescent Park are very different than the parking issues faced by residents and business owners in downtown Palo Alto. Residents in College Terrace already have a RPP so there is a precedent for such a program. It's time for staff and the city council to step up and provide a better solution than the "band aid" that the overnight parking ban is. Implement a RPP. It's a much better solution.

Posted by Raymond, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2013 at 10:36 am

I propose a two vehicle limit per four member family across the nation.

Posted by Michael Vilain, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2013 at 11:49 am

Sometimes I take Bayshore to Embarcadro to get into midtown. That street is lined with cars at 11am on a Friday. There was even a car parked on the San Francisquito Creek bridge at Bayshore. I could still get by but it restricted traffic to 1 lane. Then there are more cars along Bayshore parked in the ivy and weeds. Since Palo Alto has jurisdiction over this part of Bayshore (officially it's in Santa Clara county), why aren't they doing anything about that also?

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Get rid of the Newell St. bridge ...
get rid of the EPA parking [portion removed] problem.

Sorry to put it that bluntly, but if we want something that will work, this is going to be the only thing. Why should all the people who live around this area, their friends and guests have to go through the trouble of registering their cars and getting parking permits? They shouldn't. If East Palo Alto cannot do anything about this, Palo Alto should.

If we cannot tear the bridge down right away, build a big chain link fence and a traffic barrier prevent cars and people from going across.

The bridge has to come down anyway due to flooding concerns, so cut it off now.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Mamacita - Equity didn't own property in EPA 5 years ago.

Posted by Duveneck Neighbor, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm

Dear, Gennady Sheyner - Palo Alto Weekly Staff

Have you interviewed the EPA City Council to find out what they are doing to help solve this issue?

This is impacting the residents of EPA and PA. Finding a solution to this issue is the responsibility of the EPA city council.

Lets ask them for the solution, if they can not fix it why are they still in office?

Posted by permits, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 13, 2013 at 3:02 pm

How many permits per Crescent Park family? I propose 1. Most already have 1-2 garage spaces.

Posted by Another issue that shouldn't be ours, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 13, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Dismantle the bridge; many problems solved.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 13, 2013 at 5:28 pm

I think EPA should consider putting a big chain link fence and a traffic barrier on university avenue. EPA suffers from too much cut through traffic form palo,alto residents.
Not sure that palo alto can unilaterally dismantle the bridge. Anyway, a replacement to deal with the flooding issue is in the works

Posted by Edgewood Resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 13, 2013 at 5:31 pm

Some years ago a friend of mine who lived on the corner of Edgewood and Newell woke up to find a guy had climbed through her bedroom window and was holding a knife; he ran when she screamed. About a year ago three teenagers came across the Newell bridge and mugged two younger teens on Edgewood. Just yesterday a woman on Edgewood reported a burglar had jumped her fence and was in her backyard; the PA Police caught the guy as he tried to flee across the Newell bridge. The entire area on the PA side of the bridge is packed with cars of apartment dwellers who park in PA and walk over the bridge (restricting parking for a few blocks around the bridge will only move the problem down Newell). These are just the incidents that I know of, there are surely more. As far as I know, no residents on the PA side of the bridge use it for anything at all. The longer this goes on the more it seems that the best solution to all these problems, for PA residents, is to simply remove the bridge.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 13, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Edgewood resident-- are you seriously suggesting that no PA resident uses the bridge.

According to this story:

Web Link
More than 3000 cars a day use the bridge. Ae they all from cities besides palo alto. Please provide the dAta from your study

Posted by Gail, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I'm glad the city council, for once, acted sensibly and responsibly and passed the parking moratorium. It's interesting however, that the city council governs irresponsibly and against all logic, when it comes to dealing with developers. It makes it abundantly clear that the council is in the pocket of developers.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Not an issue ... do you know about Hwy 84 ...

State Route 84 (SR 84) is a split-section California State Highway consisting of two sections. The first section is an east–west arterial road running from San Gregorio to Menlo Park, across the Dumbarton Bridge through Fremont and Newark and ending at I-580 in Livermore.

Read that, you are comparing a state route that everyone in the state depends on to a useless broken down old bridge that causes problems from EPA to spill over into PA. Why are you so unlimited in your replies to opinions that are thought out, just because you disagree with them?

I am not being personal with anyone in EPA when I express the opinion that the Newell bridge is more trouble than it is worth. I'm willing to listen to any logical opposing point of view, but it seems you don't have one so you have to go ballistic. Anyway, good for a chuckle.

How many cars use University and Embarcadero altogether ... I bet 3000 is a drop in the bucket and would not affect the traffic at all.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 13, 2013 at 6:02 pm

CPA-- you are all confused. Univeristy avenue ends at SR 84. University avenue is not SR 84 . The barrier I suggest would be at the palo alto end of university avenue-- I assume somewhere near the 101 overpass. Traffic coming off the dumbarton would be allowed to freely drive through Univeristy to palo alto. Cars exiting paloalto,would have to get on 101 and take the SR 84 exit.
I do not think that your opinion is "thought out" . I think your idea is insulting and not really a realistic option. I really think you should stop lecturing me because I disagree with you.
If you want to read " logical" points of view, you can read the weekly stories that covered the discussion on how and if to,replace the bridge.
And finally if you think my suggestion was ridiculous, it was in response to a ridiculous suggestion,IMHO.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 13, 2013 at 6:06 pm

" I am not being personal with anyone in EPA....."
I read your previous deleted comment about EPA that you posted 5 hours ago. That was not personal?????

Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2013 at 6:08 pm

NAI, I appreciate your opinion, thanks.

Palo Alto and the rest of California has a right of way to go over that bridge though however you want to spin it, there is no such equivalence on the Newell St. bridge.

Posted by PA Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm

What is EPA City Council doing in addressing this issue? This impacts both EPA and PA and so far I am only hearing the response from the Palo Alto City Council.

I encourage the media to report the actions of all the parties involved! It would be nice to have ALL the facts to be able to make the right decision.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 13, 2013 at 6:12 pm

CPA-- not sure what you are talking about now. I am not restricting access to the dumbarton bridge in any way, shape or form. If you think I am by suggesting the university avenue be closed off, the you should also oppose all the traffic calming measures in palo alto.
Irregardless whether the Newell bridge should be shut down or not should not be a unilateral decision made by palo alto.

Posted by Equity Apartments, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2013 at 7:17 pm

What does Equity Apartments Mangement have to say about this issue?

Web Link

Maybe their INVESTORS RELATIONS need to be aware of this issue......

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Equity - great post. Their contact info has been posted numerous times, w/encouragement to contact them w/complaints. Parking has NEVER been a problem like it is now.

Posted by Equity Apartments, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2013 at 8:04 pm

If enough negative press regarding Equity Apartments is generated, it will impact their bottom line and stock price..... As long as their are no complaints that are public knowledge why should they act... but if impacts the bottom line, I suspect they will become much more coorporative in finding a solution. This is not the type of thing that a company wants.... especially when some of their investors may be the folks that are adversely impacting in Palo Alto....

Posted by Equity Apartments, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Twenty years ago, apartment REIT Equity Residential (NYSE: EQR) held its initial public offering (IPO). Within eight years, it became the first apartment company to be listed in the S&P 500.

Among the company's accomplishments in the past two decades, David Neithercut, Equity Residential's president and CEO, acknowledges that he's especially pleased with the company's returns and dedication to corporate governance

WELL MAYBE Mr. Neithercut needs to be aware of issues that may hurt his ROI.....

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Equity - EQR has pretty low apt ratings, as has also been mentioned countless times in various threads here. It's nice to see someone in PA paying attention to this. I ironically recall how many PA residents were opining that EQR should buy this portfolio, but most of us IN EPA were against it, given their terrible track record. We were hoping that Wells Fargo would break up the portfolio, even though it might mean that some residents wouldn't have rent stabilization.

There have also been complaints at many of their properties in Calif of seeming bait & switch-style tactics - incl in their EPA portfolio. However, I don't know if anyone is tracking these complaints to see if there's an established pattern that might equal consumer fraud. What I've learned very recently is that tenants think that they know what their monthly costs will be, only to find out there are additional/hidden fees. I suspect that is an another reason that so many people are crowding into the units. OTOH, I also suspect that some tenants may be too cheap to pay for extra parking, not just too low income. I think it's a mixture of both, so that adds to the number of cars per unit.

Posted by EPA Woodland resident, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 13, 2013 at 10:19 pm

On Woodland Avenue in EPA, the same problems of people parking who don't live on this street, plus trash left behind by weekend visitors has been happening on in the last two years. My neighborhood has been overrun with commercial trucks and SUVs that don't live on my block. It's sad that due to rising costs of housing that this area has become so stratified over the years.

Aside from apartment landlords charging for extra parking people, have too many vehicles and don't use other forms of transportation.

Many are still waiting for East Palo Alto to repave the section of Woodland from Newell to Pulgas/West Bayshore. The street has been a moonscape for years while the part from Newell to University/101, for some reason has been repaved.

Meanwhile, it seems like Palo Alto has no shortage of funds to repave Newell and streets nearby, some perfectly good already and don't need repaving (Pitman above Newell in particular).

This is a kind of a crime.

I know that there are clearly a variety of issues between the City of East Palo Alto and Palo Alto and its residents. If there were some way to possibly work together to make things better, I would be for it.

Ultimately we all pretty much want the same basic things.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 13, 2013 at 11:58 pm

@ Not an Issue. EPA already channels cars who exit 101 North or who come up East Bayshore to University Avenue by restricting access to side roads (aka traffic calming measures). No different than closing Newell Road/Bridge --- a traffic calming measure that pushes cars to either University or Embarcadero.

Don't have to remove the bridge to stop the traffic. PA can put up a gate or barrier on its side of the bridge. PA had actually done this a few years ago on the Chaucer Bridge.

Posted by Why not, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2013 at 7:56 am

Just put up barriers at Edgewood and Newell. No need to block off the bridge just block off access to Edgewood from Newell. Personally I think the overnight parking ban should do the trick, now just expand it to the entire city.

Posted by Why not, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2013 at 8:30 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Good-It seems that we are now, finally, headed back to common sense in Crescent Park


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 14, 2013 at 7:15 pm

[Post removed.]

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