Palo Alto looks to tighten parking requirements downtown | October 12, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 12, 2012

Palo Alto looks to tighten parking requirements downtown

City considers moratorium on parking exemptions for new developments in downtown, California Avenue

by Gennady Sheyner

When Palo Alto officials decided to ease the parking rules for downtown developers nearly three decades ago, they did not envision the drought of parking spots that today plagues the streets in the heart of the city.

This story contains 778 words.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at


Posted by Not Intuitive but True, a resident of another community
on Oct 12, 2012 at 1:13 pm

Dear Palo Alto: I know it's not intuitive for most people, but there's an easy way out of this shortage and a great strategy for business. Price parking! Those of us who come from out of town would be happy to spend $2-3 or more to not have to roam around, just as many residents would likely do the same. Doing so would raise revenue to fund bicycle and pedestrian improvements, transit service, streetscape enhancements - you name it, perhaps even a new parking garage.

Priced parking is good for business, and it's good for neighborhoods (sevearal of whom would and should have a RPZ). Time to move on from the outdated thinking of car is king and use the parking shortage to fund a better vision for the future.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Why are we not discussing pay per hour parking at all city lots and garages? Why do we have a choice of monthly (or yearly) parking, and parking for 2 hours?

Why can't a visitor for either business or social reasons find parking all day in the first lot or garage nearest to their destination. This is not rocket science, it is plain common sense.

People are willing to pay for a few hours parking and will if they find it easily. Otherwise, they will park on residential streets.

Posted by Jan H., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2012 at 2:54 pm

What are people who work downtown supposed to do? It is so unfair: every two hours they have to move their cars or get ticketed. Can't they buy a permit or something?

Posted by Sorry Man, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 12, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Its amazing how few of these daily hassles go away when you leave your car at home. Traffic and parking become non issues. just sayin'.

Posted by Jan H, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Hey, Sorry Man, it isn't always practical to ride a bike or walk : too many miles, or foul weather, or babies to transport, severe heat and risk of heat stroke, illness or disability, or a load to carry.

Posted by bru, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm

bru is a registered user.

Leave it alone. I rarely have to look very hard or long to find a parking place, and when I get exasperated I can always find a parking place in the parking structures.

I am really going to stop going downtown if I have to pay to park, and the rates get so steep eventually anyway. Look at SF or Redwood City. It's a major pain in the butt.

Stop allowing places to be built without parking

The idiocy of the government trying to predict what the future is going to look like, as if there is going to be no cars and mass transit all over. What is likely to happen is better right-sized cars that are electric because mass transit is just ugly.

I hate the people in mass transit and have been attacked twice for just minding my own business on buses or at bus stops.

If we drop educating our people, and there are no jobs, you think that is going to get better or worse?

Tread lightly and then only do something when it is necessary and there is a significant win in the proposed solution, not just because it give money to some business that is someone's friend.

Posted by Paly Student, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 12, 2012 at 10:55 pm

I have been to Downtown PA 100-200 times — often times around 7 p.m. to pick up take-out from Sprout/Tamarine/Paris Baguette/LYFE or to go to the Apple Store — and have never had trouble finding parking. Sure, you often need to be extremely lucky to find parking on University Ave or in a small parking lot, but there is almost always parking in the structures. The most I have probably spent is 1-2 minutes in a parking structure waiting for a spot to open up

One of the major annoyances with going to Berkeley is having to pay for parking. It's expensive ($1.50/hour), time-consuming (especially when all you're trying to do is run inside and pick up something), and stressful: They seriously check the meters every 10 minutes. For the same reasons, I avoid going to Redwood City.

As to all-day parking for visitors, I think they are not needed. I know Berkeley has multiple all-day parking structures that usually charge $20-30/day. The difference though is that there is no street parking for visitors anywhere in Berkeley. You can only park in residential neighborhoods for at most 2 hours. Since Palo Alto does not have this there seems to be little need for all-day parking, especially in downtown. Why would someone need to be in downtown for 24 hours? If they're visiting, why not just park in front of their guest's house or in the hotel's lot?

Posted by Jan H., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2012 at 10:57 pm

We certainly do NOT want to be like SF or Deadwood City!

Posted by Sam, a resident of Southgate
on Oct 13, 2012 at 6:54 am

San Francisco's Mission Street Garage has electronic signage which tells you how many spaces are available and on which floors. Very reassuring.

You'd think, being at the heart of Silicon Valley and all, that Palo Alto could do the same thing.

Posted by leigh, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Or here is an idea- how about the home owners who complain cars parking on public streets in front of their houses do this --- clean out your garage and use it for the car instead of unused items!
Don't complain about the streets when the space which is for your car is not used!

Posted by Political contributions, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Lund Smith and his brother (father?) have each given candidate Pat Burt huge contributions for his campaign, according to the list in yesterday's paper. It will be interesting to see how Mr. Burt repays their generosity in the discussion about parking. Or, maybe it is 'gratitude' for past favors, like allowing them to under-park the 4 story office building on Alma St.

The Smiths are politically active. Boyd Smith was interviewed on the radio a few weeks ago, he is a cash "bundler" for Mitt Romney.

Posted by Political contributions, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 14, 2012 at 11:27 pm

The visible donations the Smiths made to Pat Burt are
Lund Smith, Principal, Cupertino $500
Boyd Smith, Principal, Los Altos $500
They are the developers of the oversized, underparked office building approved for 355 Alma Street.

We don't know whether they have given money or other valuable things or other people. Only political contributions get reported.The value of the land they don't build parking on is so much greater than the necessary "grease" they apply to the deciders, that they can "grease" a lot of people and still make million$.

Posted by lane mason, a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street,
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold I'll tax the heat,
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Leigh - a lot of the houses in Professorville and Downtown North do not have garages and some do not have driveways.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Many years ago, I lived in a neighborhood where I did not have a driveway or garage and knew that parking would be a problem. This was not in the Bay Area. I had to weigh that up when making my decision to live there. Parking turned out to be a bigger problem than I expected mainly due to a business being operated from the address opposite me and a neighbor who made it very unpleasant for anyone parking outside his house.

The point is, that those who are living in Professerville should have known that there would be parking problems before they made the decision to live there. I do have some sympathy with those who live there but I am also sympathetic to those who need to find somewhere to park and don't want to buy a monthly permit for perhaps a 3 day a week job.

The answer is not to put in permits in residential areas, but to simplify the parking problem in the garages and lots. Pay per hour machines in all lots and garages would pay for themselves very quickly and if the parking is reasonably priced, they would be used by visitors, workers and other occasional users happily. The problem is that finding the right type of parking for those who do not understand the complicated system makes street parking in accessible residential neighborhoods the easiest option.

Posted by jm, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 15, 2012 at 3:56 pm

"...anyone living in Professorville should have known..." Many residents have lived there for several decades or more. Should they have known?

So glad you earn enough money to pay extra for parking. There are hundreds of employees at shops and restaurants who are paid minimum wage. I guess they are invisible.

The problem is all the underparked new office buildings that were approved in the last couple of decades. Coupled with the idiotic planning department policy, supported by the council, that if the city makes driving difficult everyone will find alternative transport. John H above says it perfectly.

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