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Parking program moves ahead

Original post made on Jan 27, 2014

After years of dire warnings, angry complaints and impassioned pleas from downtown residents about their once-quiet streets transforming into parking lots for area employees, Palo Alto officials on Monday introduced a powerful, controversial and long-awaited tool aimed at providing relief.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, January 27, 2014, 11:10 PM

Comments (41)

Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 27, 2014 at 11:38 pm

Same old playbook - pontificate, delay, sow confusion. Push the issue past the next election, while giving the appearance of taking action. And look at the long list of prerequisites to start an RPPP in your neighborhood. And who pays for the program?

The city has already allocated plenty of parking spaces to downtown businesses like Lyfe Kitchen, Whole Foods; these businesses were the ones pushing for the color coded 2 hour parking zones in the 30+ blocks of downtown, and the dozen or so parking lots.

These same businesses should have been speaking up against the high density variances in zoning given to projects, and their under parking - like the Lytton Gateway. Unfortunately they chose to be short sighted.

Posted by rainer, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 2:15 am

I like the sound of the word framework.

I grew up in a country which dug itself out of total ruin 1945 armed only with their hands and the idea of the Ordo Liberal Framework of the "Freiburg School." which focused on finding appropriate non-ideological "rules of the game" for the market order, asking: what constitutional structure and legal framework best preserves a free society and economy. A fine tuning exercise as you go along. In 1961 the right-wing idol of Friedrich [von] Hayek joined this group in Freiburg because he found the Milton Friedman way of thinking of the "Chicago Economic School" too stifling.

But the City manager invoking "framework" makes me very suspicious. It sounds like a lot of frame and no work. "Even what we ultimately settle on and implement is probably going to need to be changed after it's really put into practice," Keene said. Like in 25 years?

But he "really" hopes "really" is never. IMHO.

Why don't we reverse the timeline. We start NOW by allowing a College Terrace residential parking system frame in all the neighbor hoods which already have been shown to be over parked, Evergreen for example, and THEN we modify the College Terrace clone AFTER we get older and wiser. Like in 3 month?

Remember "the Rudy's Pub closing recently? Until 2008 in this part of University Avenue, as in other down town areas, zoning forbade the conversion of retail and restaurant space into (the higher rents producing) office space. A zoning many cities have, because offices on the ground floor are the death knoll for the so much sought after "vibrancy".

So in 2008 in their infinitive wisdom the City Council decided to prime the economic pump by "temporarily" vacating this rule. And it is still in force until the grandiose downtown cap plan is going to be passed by Council. Well, it is only 6 years, what do you expect. Or was there some unknown economic interest in play?

An effort after 2009 by some more foresighted Councilors to rescind the change lost by 5:4, deferring to the future pie-in-the-sky cap plan.

"Water under the bridge" Liz Kniss would say. But then there is also the saying those who forget the mistakes of the past are bound to repeat them.

Because it also was "temporary" priming which got us the 1988 waver of the requirement of a parking space for every 250 sqft of ground floor building area. It was only noticed in 2013 (I am very bad in math, but I think this is 25 years) that this little waver was still lustily being used by developers, through 2 booms, and led to the loss of 2500 parking spaces. Which were partly made up by building (at which tax payer's expense?) 2 new parking garages, so now we are "only" missing 1500 spaces?

Real City Planners and Urbanists in small and large towns in Europe would have aimed 25 years ago to make University Avenue and surroundings a pedestrian-only zone, with 1000 surplus parking spaces, a Mecca for shoppers and foodies, beating the sterile Stanford Shopping Center. Is anybody missing the Palo Alto Roasting Company?

Posted by Rainer, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 2:55 am

Rainer is a registered user.

Many crocodile tears were shed in the City Council's session on January 27th about the economic burden a Residential Parking Permit would put on the poor low earning workers.

Anybody who actually has tried to ascertain who the "parkers" were, predominantly found it was professionals.

I learned in Real Estate Brokers School long time ago that the actual cost of driving a car is about 50 cents a mile. For new cars it is dominated by appreciation, for old cars by wear and tear and repairs. There are plenty of friends and customers who are still thankful that I convinced them to NOT move to Fremont but to live as close to their work at Stanford as possible.

The latest number from AA is an average of 56 cents per mile. Gasoline then and now contributes less than 20%. So a round trip by car from, say, San Jose, is $20. A CALTRAIN monthly pass: $3:65 / day.

So if people cannot afford the parking fees, they cannot afford using the car.

Medical research has shown that every additional quarter mile you walk, up to about 3 miles, has measurable health effects. So you can forgo your health club membership and come out financially and health wise.

That is why in OECD countries people in cities are healthier than the ones in the country side: they walk to the underground and to work! And back!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:28 am

So the cars have to go somewhere, any idea where?

This does nothing to help occasional all day parking, but does plenty to add confusion to the picture of where to go for more than 3 hours parking for many people.

Where is the discussion about pay per hour parking in all lots? Where is the discussion on improving shuttles? Where is the discussion on satellite parking?

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:54 am

Raise the minimum wage so every worker who wants one can afford a permit.

No business district parking in residential neighborhoods.

June 1 effective date for both. The business districts will get TDM done on their own.

Whole Foods needs to grow up. Their employee parking practices weren't scalable and sustainable.

The 75% threshold is offensive! You have to have a crisis in your neighborhood before anything happens.

Posted by anon , a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:45 am

is anyone using the public parking under 800 High Street???

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 8:52 am

The pictures of the neighborhood- the clutter, the unsafe streets,
the ugliness - yes, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.
For Klein, this is a tradeoff for a vibrant Downtown and we're working
on it. This is a false dichotomy. The tradeoff was giving parking exemptions
to a handfull of local developers for over-sized office buildings at the
expense of the neighborhoods, the residents,aesthetic values and
streetscapes,traffic congestion, environmental values, quality of life,
City character, loss of local businesses and services. That's the tradeoff.

Posted by Michael, a resident of University South
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:18 am

"is anyone using the public parking under 800 High Street??? "

Or under 260 Homer?

Posted by david, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:23 am

For now, residential street parking is used primarily as parking for downtown employees, leaving downtown parking open to consumers. At peak hours everyday (11:30am-1:30pm and 6pm-8pm) both residential parking and downtown parking are filled by their respective users (employees and consumers), so if you make both places of parking limited on time, they will just mix, meaning employees will park and repark downtown while consumers Will park with what is left open downtown and then filter into residential parking.
If you live within parking distance of a downtown, you just have to live with the fact cars will park on the street you live on.

Posted by MEMBER, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:26 am

Palo Alto used to be a fabulous place to live...but now it is ALL about money and making more than anyone else is earning.
Where did we lose our way? Overcrowding and constant building and huge trucks destroying our local neighborhood roads.
For goodness sakes, let's urge underground parking and let folks park in front of their own homes!
Is that asking too much?
Looking way ahead we could have parked cars all the way to Oregon expressway! Parked cars are already across Embarcadero.

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of University South
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:31 am

All the drawings of parking permit districts I've seen as this has gone through the process include my street as a permitted street--when we have no parking issues. I get that the assumption is that this plan is going to create parking issues for my street, which is why they're being proactive. But if the expectation is that permits are going to create MORE parking issues, why are we doing this? This is a downtown problem that should be fixed by downtown parking garages, not pushing it further out into the neighborhoods.

Posted by Left of Boom, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:31 am

Left of Boom is a registered user.

Did the City Council fund new parking enforcement officers as well? Otherwise, it's a toothless program.

Posted by RogerD, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2014 at 11:53 am

RogerD is a registered user.

For me its simple, I work afternoons, my company provides private parking.
Should I leave my house in the morning , say to go to the doctor, when I come home the closest parking is half a mile away. All the streets around me are filled with employees from California Avenue businesses. Sure they need somewhere to park, but every car has one occupant, and a little consideration on leaving some spaces open to residents would not go amiss.

Posted by Tom DuBois, a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

No such thing as Free Parking

Clearly there's an economic cost being foisted on the residents. No matter how low the price of a for a city garage or street, it will cost more than free. There were points made at last night's city council meeting that in my experience are quite accurate. You have professionals, who have paid permits for city garages (possibly paid by the company) parking in neighborhoods because it's closer to their office. That will never change unless the economics force it to change.

The Mercury News had an interesting article on parking in San Jose, which is one of the cheapest major cities in which to park. Their Assistant Director of Transportation is quoted as saying "The most convenient spaces right in front of businesses probably shouldn't be the cheapest, by far".


Web Link

Posted by Adrian, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 28, 2014 at 12:38 pm

"Now with the first step out of the way, the city faces the uphill task of hashing out all the details and convincing the clamoring parties that this tool will serve as a palliative to the pesky problem of parking congestion and not a Trojan horse that will make a bad situation even worse."

So the City Council passed a resolution without figuring out the scope, details, funding, or stakeholders. Nice work!

Posted by Barbara, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 28, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Yes, let's get these unwanted vehicles off our residential streets!!

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 1:08 pm

No permits should be needed. PAPD just bought license plate readers.

Phase one of the program should allow any car registered in PA to park in the residential district, and any car registered out of town gets a ticket unless a resident has texted in the license. Each resident gets 100 free visitor hours per year. Simple and easy.

Phase two can add zones and a way to buy more visitor hours.

Posted by Elect New Council Members, a resident of Professorville
on Jan 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

We have owned our Professorville home for over 35 years. We treasure our neighborhood, but over the last 3 years the parking is out of control. We do not have a driveway or garage, a similar situation to many of our neighbors. Downtown workers park within inches of our bumpers, often trapping our cars until 6pm at night. If we come home any time before 6pm we have to park blocks away from our house after depositing our groceries on the porch while the car sits idle in the street. The people parking on our streets are not shoppers or patrons! They are employees of local businesses- the ones I recognize without brief cases and scooters are Whole Foods and PAMF employees. We elect our officials, I think it is time for new council members that will listen to their voting constituents.

Posted by Enoch Choi, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

@Elect New Council Members:

Why would PAMF employees park in Professorville? PAMF is across the railroad tracks near the Sheraton since 1998. It would take a walk thru Professorville to the tunnel under the railroad to get to PAMF. My brother lives in Professorville and I visit him weekly and have not seen any PAMF identification(employees have to hang a PAMF badge from their mirror) on any cars. PAMF has 2 floors of underground and 5 floors of above ground parking which is contiguous with the office so I can't see someone parking that far away. Maybe you are thinking of the past when PAMF was located downtown.

Posted by Mike, a resident of University South
on Jan 28, 2014 at 5:01 pm

@Elect New Council Members,

I walk around Professorville a lot and am having trouble finding houses without driveways. Where can I find some?

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2014 at 5:51 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

So people buy houses w/out driveways, but then use cars. Interesting.
What about all of the residents who rarely park in their long driveways? We see that all of the time. Oh, and the residents who park on the street, facing the wrong direction. Are they so important, and/or in such a hurry that they can't park correctly and legally?

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 28, 2014 at 5:56 pm

>By a unanimous vote, the City Council directed staff to draft an ordinance that establishes a framework for a citywide "residential parking permit program," which would allow participating neighborhoods to create parking restrictions on their residential blocks.

This a move in the right direction. I support every block to sign up...your neighborhoods will be much better off, if you do.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:05 pm

@Hmmm - we expect better from you! So people have a proprietary relationship with their curb and it surprises you?

We're expected to maintain the sidewalk, water the street trees and prohibited from putting tall fences in front of our houses. The PAPD wants us to maintain a neighborhood watch and report anything unusual. We don't expect to the street in front of our house to be a transient parking lot or vehicle storage.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:15 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Well, I guess you and all of Palo Alto down, Anon - how tragic! I do think it's weird to own a car w/out a driveway, because, as we all know, laws change.

How're you expected to maintain the sidewalk? Because if you are, many of you are doing a lousy job. Remember that woman who tripped over the problematic sidewalk and died a few years ago? You know, right, that it's not the street in front of your house that's a parking lot? It's a street, w/lots of cars and bicycles moving along it. Then, along the curb, cars park there. If that's vehicle storage, what you're saying is that you want to store your vehicle on the street, even though you don't own the street.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 6:44 pm

@Hmmm... not worth a fight, but you're trolling here!

You are responsible to keep your sidewalk flat and level. You can be sued if someone trips on your sidewalk. You are required to maintain your parking strip with landscape and water, and you are required to water your street trees. No complaints about any of it.

I don't think anyone is proposing only allowing residents to drive down the streets. But it's a well-accepted principle that cities can control parking, and restrict parking to residents. It's actually kind of rude to think you can drop your car in a residential neighborhood where you don't live for free day after day.

If the city won't hold up its side of the bargain, then we should just all put up 8 foot walls and call it Atherton.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:14 pm

Why no talk about putting up parking meters and giving residents exemptions?

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 28, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

No, I'm not trolling. Why do residents need to maintain their sidewalks? I never recall that being the law when I lived in Palo Alto. I understand if tree roots on private property are screwing up the sidewalk, but otherwise, that's just weird. Now w/the drought, you have the perfect excuse to not water the trees and grass to maintain your parking strip. Speaking of which, what exactly is that? Is that the area between the sidewalk and the street in front of your house? Can't residents park on this strip thing, since they have to maintain it?

"It's actually kind of rude to think you can drop your car in a residential neighborhood where you don't live for free day after day." LOL! That's pretty funny. So I guess that people all over the US are the rude ones, for doing exactly that, for decades, including in neighboring towns.

Yeah, why not parking meters, making residents exempt? Sounds like a great chance for the city to make some moola, which they always whine about not having (another thing to laugh about - those jokers!).

So if I trip over a badly maintained sidewalk in front of someone's house, and I have to sue someone, I get to sue that homeowner, and not the city?

Posted by Palo Alto Native, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:20 am

In my neighborhood the person behind me has been doing a 2 plus year construction project. The project parks
about 10 huge vehicles on the street every work day. Funny how the parking complaints only target the workers
from downtown, and leave out the seemingly endless construction parking the "fortunate" residents have.

By the way, I could care less who parks on the street in front of my house, I just can't get past this irony.

Posted by PermitsNeeded, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 29, 2014 at 9:49 am

Saying that employees can't afford the parking garages is not a good enough excuse. Either the employees save up some extra money from their paychecks to pay for their parking in the garages or the employers step up and give them a raise to pay for it. Throwing it on the residents is simply not ok. We pay way too much to live here to not be able to use our streets! Just yesterday I had to park 4 blocks away from my home because the streets were packed with cars. Even my heating service person showed up late because he had to find parking around my neighborhood, and then had to haul his equipment a few blocks to service my home. It's ridiculous and I look forward to the day that we can get some relief. It's like dealing with bumper to bumper traffic on the freeways everyday. It's frustrating!

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:37 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

So you really, truly believe that what you pay gives you the right to park in front of your house, on a public street? But an employee, who is also contributing to the economy, but likely either earns less than you, or hasn't somehow "paid" enough for the privilege of working in Palo Alto, needs to pay more?

Posted by more signs and yellow paint, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 29, 2014 at 11:49 am

Have you seen Newell St on a late Sunday night? Take a look at all the ugly "no parking between 2am-5am" signs reflect your's pathetic! Starting to look like dumpy SF and not a "pristine" "upper-class" neighborhood.

There have been ugly crosswalks painted with overly wide mostly crooked yellow lines popping up all over the place too. (I guess this makes the walks "safer." Try installing some flashy lights instead.)

Add to these a bunch of residential parking zone signs and we'll have ourselves a real dump. (Might as well cut down a bunch of trees, and bring in more construction trucks at this point.)

Posted by Chris, a resident of University South
on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:54 pm

If employees have to pay for parking are they going to pay OR more likely, are they going to park in front of your house in an unrestricted district? You don't have to be Einstein to figure this out?

Posted by Chris , a resident of University South
on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:57 pm

Stanford charges employees a lot to park and provides Caltrain passes.

Why does the city have to pamper Palo Alto employees?

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:13 pm

@Hmmm... your position is baffling! The CC has already agreed that residents have first crack at street parking in their neighborhoods. Now we're down to the details of implementation. Everyone has equal access to drive, but not everyone has equal rights to park. Communities across the country have implemented resident permit programs for years.

If you want to lobby to raise minimum wage in Palo Alto so all workers can afford to buy permits in the parking lots, you may find some community support.

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 29, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I really don't have a position, but I'm finding the attitudes here interesting and often, bemusing.

Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:40 pm

@more signs and yellow paint, resident Crescent Park
The City is plastering signs and yellow-laddered crosswalks, normally seen
in commercial areas or along highways, in our residential areas. This
is not only visually disrespectful of the neighborhood but it completely transforms the character of the neighborhood and corridor in effect upgrading it from a residential collector street into the look and feel of an arterial, implying higher speeds. This is the opposite effect of a sign which says "residential area" as you turn off ECR in Atherton for example. Also all the signs and paint, especially at the intersection of Newell and Channing which is so overdone with a traffic light already there, is a distraction and potentially confusing to the driver, more so possibly for an elderly driver. And there is no significant prior accident history at that intersection as far as I know. The only recent accident I am aware of, a rear-ender, occurred just hours after the laddered-crosswalks were installed.

The State requires that a crosswalk where adjacent to a school be"outlined"
in yellow. Drive west on Santa Cruz Ave in Menlo Park and see the attractive
uniform colored crosswalks all along the residential corridor which are outlined in yellow where there is a school in conformance with State law. We have a colored crosswalk in PA on ECR at Stanford Avenue.

Also strictly from a safety standpoint, relying on heavily marked crosswalks is not the answer and actually can have the opposite effect. A study for example in San Diego, referenced on the City of Irvine site, indicates that statistically, heavily marked crosswalks were actually more dangerous for pedestrians even accounting for their higher use. The reason is that the pedestrian believes that the crosswalk is safer and pays less attention to his surroundings. That is why the School District needs to continue to educate students and everybody needs to follow safe practices when crossing streets. And the City needs to step-up enforcement as traffic keeps growing.

Posted by Guillen, a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 30, 2014 at 9:51 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Jean, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 30, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Boy, I am so glad I no longer live in Palo Alto. It has turned into such a snobby place, far different from when I left it. People used to have consideration for the neighbors and neighborhood when they parked there.

Posted by John Murphy, a resident of another community
on Jan 30, 2014 at 2:14 pm

"John Garcia, manager at Mollie Stone's on California Avenue, made a similar appeal. He said his employees can't afford to live in Palo Alto"

Pay them more John.

But then I would have to raise prices.

Those prices would then be paid by the people who asked for the new parking rules. And thus the cycle completes.

Posted by palo alto parent, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 30, 2014 at 3:35 pm

I would be happy if the City allowed the retail and restaurant businesses to buy residential permits for their employees. I'm not in an effected neighborhood, but my two cents is that people resent the "office park" of Downtown PA for using their streets as a parking lot, not the employees of the service businesses. The parking problem is because of the offices downtown that have been built or converted without being required to provide adequate parking, not because the hard working service people that provide a service to our community (and the "office park" have over run the neighborhoods.

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2014 at 3:52 pm

I think everyone would be happier if the hard working service people were able to park in the downtown parking garages close to their jobs and not the residential districts. Leave the residential districts for the residents and the business district for business parking.

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