Palo Alto looks to build new downtown garage Around Town, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on Mar 14, 2013 at 10:06 am
Palo Alto officials are considering a slew of solutions to downtown's shortage of parking, including more spots for permit holders at two city garages, a valet program at another garage, parking restrictions in residential neighborhoods and a new parking structure that would be jointly developed by the city and one of downtown's most prolific developers.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 14, 2013, 9:45 AM
Posted by no permits, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 10:20 am
I agree that monthly permits are a thing of the past and have to go. Paying by the month just encourages people to drive to work every day, which fewer and fewer people want to do. Many people now work from home or take transit or carpool some of the time. Also, many downtown employers use a lot of part-time workers. Parking has to be made practical for people who don't drive all the time.
Posted by Downtown-Palo-Alto-Is-Full!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 10:24 am
Depending on the how many cars can be parked here, the cost/parking-spot will be between $47,000 and $62,000. These costs are "externalities" associated with downtown development which the City Council/Staff have been ignoring in previous years.
In this case, it would seem that Keenan owns the property, so that any additional cost of acquiring land for a parking garage has been absorbed in the total cost of the project he is building.
Posted by no permits, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 10:55 am
I agree that the cost of adding public parking is so horrendously expensive, that the city should be doing everything it can to encourage non-solo-driving. Electrify Caltrain to boost speed and capacity. Enlarge the city shuttle bus system. More bike lanes. And what happened to that bike share system that they were talking about years ago?
Posted by Downtown-Palo-Alto-Is-Full!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:16 am
> Caltrain to boost speed and capacity
Electrifying Caltrain will neither boast speed, nor increase capacity. Diesel engines are fully capable of hauling more passenger cars than they do now. The number of cars is based on demand, and the cost to provide that demand.
Electrical power will not make a train go faster. There are natural safety limits that people should be aware of by now. For instance, 60 miles an hour under diesel power is exactly the same as 60 miles an hour under any other motive force--such as electricity. The key issues that need to be considered is stopping distances as speeds increase and as the weight of the train increases.
Electrifying Caltrain will produce nothing except a transfer of hundreds of millions (or perhaps more) to the construction industry, which will end up being nothig more than public subsidy of labor unions.
Caltrain is a money pit, that produces little more than public embarrasment to those who have studied their finances.
Posted by resident, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:42 am
Have you studied the finances of public parking garages? The city has already spent upwards of $100,000,000 on public parking garages. How much of that has been paid back through parking fees? Why can't the city charge enough to break even? That is the real boondoggle.
Same goes for those $100,000,000 on-ramps that they are building on Hwy 101 in Palo Alto right now. What is the point of spending all that money on highways when there is no place to park the cars? Double boondoggle.
Posted by Sylvia, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:12 pm
@Resident. You state that there are permit spaces available. I tried a month ago to get one or two of those for our employees for a construction project we're doing downtown. I was told there's a long waiting list of people wanting those long-term permits. I had to settle for $16 per day daily permits that can be used in the garages.
Posted by robit noops, a resident of the Greenmeadow neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:20 pm
Mt view has ample parking so I recommend it. I have lost interest in University Ave over the last decade or so, so I would recommend not wasting my tax dollars on projects that will drag on for years and be way over budget.
Town and Country has also gone from a sleepy little mall to a traffic congestion for 2 major streets and no parking.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:40 pm
That is interesting if you say that there are no permit spots available and there are wait lists. I have seen empty spots in the garages during the day. So do people have the permit spots and not use them?
Posted by Downtown-Palo-Alto-Is-Full!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 12:54 pm
> The city has already spent upwards of $100,000,000
> on public parking garages
You'll want to check into this a little more. While it may be true that the downtown parking garages have cost $100M, the downtown business have agreed to pay for them through a parking assessment district--not the City. The merchants get the money by charging their clients/customers more than just the simple cost-of-goods/services, to be able to pay their assessments.
This parking assessment district is not all that well documented, so what might happen if the parking assessment district were to default on payments is not clear. It would seem that the City is the owner, but the assessment district is paying the bill.
A complete airing of the situation should be made before anymore parking garages are built that involve the City in any way.
Posted by Norman Beamer, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 1:18 pm
The College Terrace residential permit parking program (RPPP) is a permanent program funded by Stanford as mitigation for the Stanford 2000 County General Use Permit (GUP). My understanding is that, to put permit parking in place, funding must be provided so that the policy can be policed and enforced. So perhaps the developers should be requiired to pay this expense.
Posted by musical, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 2:07 pm
Speaking of assessments, does Larry Stone (our tax assessor) send a possessory interest tax invoice to holders of monthly parking permits? I can't imagine any overlooked revenue source these days, so what makes these leases exempt?
Side off-topic question to Chris, how does electrification allow a train to decelerate more quickly? Maybe more efficiently. Any quantitative numbers on what accelerations are deemed comfortable for public transit passengers not wearing seatbelts and shoulder harnesses? Think I've seen 3 mph/sec for BART acceleration. Until electrified, Caltrain is doomed to be much slower off the mark, since only four axles of the whole train are powered presently. But it is a more pleasant ride.
Posted by Jeff, a resident of the Downtown North neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 2:16 pm
"Under Keenan's proposal, the office development would use ... 63 spaces". Oh wow, the new development is only going to add 63 more cars trying to park downtown! However "The garage would have room for 145 self-parked cars". He will surely solve our parking problems ...
If more parking spaces aren't created than new drivers are brought in, the problem will get worse. Fantasies aren't going to improve Palo Alto but if planning is bases on fantasies Palo Alto will become a nightmare. New development must help pay to fix an already existing problem.
Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 2:45 pm
@Chris - Electric trains accelerate faster, but it doesn't end up making much difference. Bayrail Alliance says it will only cut 7 minutes off the 1:30 trip from San Jose to San Francisco. Is that really worth the money?
“Quality sidewalks and protected bicycle paths are not cute architectural features; they are a right, unless we believe that only those with access to a car have the right to safe individual mobility.”
“A protected bicycle way is a symbol of democracy. It shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important as one in a $30,000 car.”
Their parking problems are not so different than our own, and they've made their cities better.
Posted by Adina, a resident of Menlo Park, on Mar 14, 2013 at 5:25 pm
Electrification won't make the full trip from San Francisco to San Jose much faster.
But the quicker will allow Caltrain to stop at more stations - for example, Cal Ave and San Antonio, which have poor schedules now, are likely to have better schedules. These areas are seeing some more development so the extra service will help with traffic and parking.
Caltrain will also need to make tradeoffs - how much service does it want to provide to stations like Cal Ave and how much to apply time savings to faster bullets.
Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 6:41 pm
@Adina - I agree, and just so we are all being clear: an electrified train will either be a few minutes faster, or allow a few extra stops at the same speed or slower. It just seems like a lot of money for not that much.
Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 6:45 pm
@Darwin Just because protected bicycle lanes might be nice in big urban cities like Paris, London, and Bogota with multi-million populations doesn't mean it makes sense in a small suburban commuter town like Palo Alto. It's about as relevant as an article on how great the New York subway system is.
Posted by Ken, a resident of the Professorville neighborhood, on Mar 14, 2013 at 7:15 pm
Parking is the financial resoinsibiliy of developers and property owners, not the City, not the public. Only in Palo Alto downtown do property owner owners and developers get these multi- million dollar gifts that adjacent residents pay for with the livability, safety, quality and value of their homes and neighborhood.. Write to the city council and tell them they must turn this around and require existing and future usages to provide the parking needed by the on-site employees.
Posted by Jake, a resident of another community, on Mar 14, 2013 at 9:19 pm
How about partnering up with Caltrain and converting the existing street level Caltrain parking lots in the city to parking garages, they could build up and below grade. That would be a lot of parking spots created without losing existing retail to parking spaces. Workers down town could be encouraged to use the parking garages near the tracks which would free up the ones in down town for shoppers, diners, visitors.
Posted by Downtown-Palo-Alto-Is-Full!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2013 at 9:05 am
> Start charging for those garages, and
> where appropriate, some of the parking lots
The City is currently charging for garage parking—dragging in over $1M a year. However, there is no clear evidence as to what model the City is using for setting permit numbers, or prices—relative to the demand for parking.
What is needed is a comprehensive model that can make meaningful estimates about how the many cars will use the garage/lots under different pricing models. Some people are suggesting shifting from permit parking to metered parking. While this is an obvious suggestion—how will it affect the utilization of garages/lots? Another issue that is lurking about is how many people would use the garages/lots if the knew that there were spaces available without having to drive around from garage/lot to garage/lot looking for open spaces? People’s time is valuable. This fact seems to elude most City of Palo Alto employees.
And of course, we might also consider what kinds of inducements that we might offer current companies occupying space in the downtown area to move on—thereby making the problem go away.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2013 at 9:26 am
The incentive to buy permits should be that it works out cheaper than paying for a full day's parking.
For example, if the charge per day was $10 paid at a machine, and if the daily charge for a monthly permit was $8, then it would give an incentive to all daily workers to buy a monthly permit which would presumably save on his time also.
If on the other hand, the daily charge was $8 and the permit worked out at $10 per day, there would be no incentive to buy a permit unless of course there was the likelihood that finding a non permit space was nil. The only incentive here would be the guarantee of a space in a specific garage.
Parking in Palo Alto needs to be looked at from many aspects.
We have some workers who park in Palo Alto 95% of work days. In other full time workers. We have some workers who work part time during the week for many reasons.
We also have some people who want to park several times a month, perhaps for shopping or business meetings that last more than 3 hours.
We also have visitors who arrive, not knowing the area at all, and want to park for a full day.
We need to be able to meet all these needs efficiently and affordably. Don't make it difficult for any one group over any other.
Most people accept that in a downtown area parking will cost money, but they do expect to be able to find parking relatively easily. Downtown Palo Alto already has a reputation for being difficult to park for more than 2 hours. That alone must detract people from wanting to do business in downtown, whether it be retail or their employment business. To attract people to come downtown we should be looking at parking as a priority. It is not just full time workers who need to park, but frequent, occasional or one time visitors. At present, the frequent, occasional and one time visitors are being left out of the mix.ieNpq
Posted by Darwin, a resident of another community, on Mar 15, 2013 at 9:42 am
@Mr.Recycle, when the daytime population is well over 100,000 people, I would say that it is more than relevant. And OBVIOUSLY, I'm not suggesting that Palo Alto adopt a major program like the aforementioned cities, but a smaller approach is surely an appropriate measure.
Posted by musical, a resident of the Palo Verde neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2013 at 9:46 am
Re Taxable Possessory Interest, I learned about it the hard way in the context of an item down that list, "Adult/night schools operating in a public school," even as a non-profit organization. The amounts are small but they add up.
The criteria seemed to be that the use of the public property is regularly scheduled for an extended period and the user has exclusive right to use the space at these scheduled times. The assessor website says "a taxable possessory interest exists whenever a private person or persons have the exclusive right to a beneficial use of tax exempt publicly owned real property."
I suppose it would not be applicable to parking permits unless they were for specific numbered slots and not just a general permit area. Didn't really intend to bring up a red-herring here.
Technically I should correct my earlier post, the assessor just values the property -- the tax bill itself is sent by the Santa Clara County Tax Collector's Office.
Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2013 at 9:54 am
@Darwin - For perspective, Bogota's population is over 7 million, and that's why bike paths might work. The people are already in the city. Palo Alto's large daytime population (125,000 according to PAPD) is exactly why bike paths are just a vanity project. Do you think 60,000 commuters can ride their bikes down 101 or across the Dumbarton bridge to get to some nice urban bike paths here? Because Palo Alto is a suburban commuter town, it will always be car dependent.
Posted by Darwin, a resident of another community, on Mar 15, 2013 at 10:53 am
@Mr. Recycle, you can call it a vanity project all you want, I call it a different way to get to work. Not everyone comes from the East Bay. There are thousands of us who come just up from the south. Riding my bicycle to work is an absolute nightmare.
You're welcome to be negative and call it whatever kind of boondoggle you want to call it. I want a clean and efficient way to get to work where I'm not getting buzzed by single rider SUVs going 40MPH in a 25MPH zone.
I'm not suggesting that we get 60,000 people out of their cars and on to bikes or into buses, but if we could get as few as 5,000 out of their cars that would be a huge accomplishment.
You seem hellbent on comparing the city of Palo Alto to major urban areas, and throwing out the idea completely because of that. I'm saying a smaller version of what other cities have used to help our daytime congestion is not only worth looking at, but a crime to completely dismiss.
Keep calling it a vanity project 15 years from now when the congestion only gets worse.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on Mar 15, 2013 at 11:41 am
Another car centered project, yes I understand the need for parking. 50, 40, 30, 20 and even 10 years ago some sort of transit or highway project was dreamed of, planned or proposed. Few get built. Yes, a light rail lines were built, BART is being extended, trails and bike paths were built.
We just need they improvements to keep coming, improved ridership means less garages and parking spaces.
Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2013 at 12:42 pm
@Darwin - You have literally defined a vanity project - you want a bike path for yourself. You say 5,000 would be an accomplishment, and it would because it would never happen. But even if you could get 5,000, how much would it cost? And for the other 100,000 people who have to drive somewhere every day, does it help or hurt them? Do you want to take one lane out of El Camino and slow the cars to bike speed? If you want a bike centered life, which is great, don't live and work in the suburbs, pick someplace where it makes sense like San Francisco.
Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community, on Mar 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm
We aren't going to get rid of the car, just saying if we figure out a way to increase ridership on bikes, car pools, shuttles, transit or other means. We might not need extra parking spaces, more cars driving to those extra spaces.
I like idea of having a few big central garages with quick access on and off the freeway, you either shuttle, rent a bike or walk in.
No speeding cars running stop signs on little residential street next to schools.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2013 at 2:24 pm
We may be a suburb when it comes to residential lifestyle, but we are also a destination work centre. As many, if not more, people are commuting here daily as are commuting out of town.
For this reason, we need to look beyond the one way commute route traffic but two way traffic. Our residents are not commuting to downtown to work so shuttles and bikes are not going to get them there. We are getting commuters from 10 plus miles who are commuting from both highways as well as other through routes.
Parking is necessary and will continue to be necessary as long as we have businesses (not retail) within our town.
Posted by Darwin, a resident of another community, on Mar 15, 2013 at 3:39 pm
@Mr.Recycle, for myself and others, and to encourage others to find alternative ways for commuting. You really want to talk vanity? This article is about creating parking structures for cars driven by 1 person. You don't call THAT a vanity project?
Why does the commuter behind the wheel currently have more rights than the commuter on a bike or the commuter on 2 feet? Why do we continue to try and find answers to outdated questions?
Why do we ask how we can improve parking for motorists? Why don't we ask more different and modern questions instead? What can we do to make it easier for alternative forms of transportation to visit and work in Palo Alto? Are we still such slaves to the automobile industry that we're unable to see a larger picture here?
I'm not suggesting that we make it more difficult for drivers or that people stop driving completely. That's a ridiculous thought. But we do need to create alternatives for the average person.
Posted by Marie, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm Marie is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Metered parking for all downtown would have a very negative affect on downtown retail and a very positive impact on Stanford Shopping Center and other nearby retail centers. Changing the permit system to optimize for all day parking makes much more sense. I like the idea where a daily permit would be more cost affective than a monthly permit. This could really improve availability in the garages, and should reduce the number of many empty but paid for slots.
Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood, on Mar 15, 2013 at 5:40 pm
@Darwin You say you aren't suggesting that we make it more difficult for drivers, but you posted an article about rededicating car lanes to bicycles. Where are you going to get a dedicated bike lane without taking car lanes offline? Cars don;t have more rights than bikes, but you just need to deal with reality, and that reality as accommodating people driving in and out of the city.
@Robert - Call me when PA hits 250k - until then any serious mass transit or bike option is fantasy (or vanity).
Posted by Downtown-Palo-Alto-Is-Full!, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Mar 16, 2013 at 9:43 am
This morning's Post (Sat.) has a picture of a parking structure in Miami that "Chop" Keenan says is his "inspiration" for a similar structure in Palo Alto. The Miami structure is very "modern"--looking more like a huge piece of Art than a traditional garage.
Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, on Mar 17, 2013 at 11:04 pm
People are just so silly when it comes to this subject of cars. Cars are amazing conveniences, and yes, they are not perfect, but imagine how someone a hundred years ago would have to walk or get in their horse and buggy and spend a day going to the few limited places they would get to in a reasonable time, imagine how much our economy is speeded up and how many goods, services and events we can go to because of cars.
Yeah, I think it would be great if public transit could perform the same function, but it cannot. There are sick people, violent people, bums, and often too many crowds with too long waits. To get that system into working order takes a certain density of people and demand .. and still we have things like Oscar Grant who was shot, or the guy who was killed by the tracks in Redwood City a few years ago.
There are a lot of reasons not to want to interact with unfiltered members of the public, and while it might be fine for you and me, it is not for everyone and many will want to and need to drive their cars. So lets figure out the real costs and benefits of cars, roads and how we build our cities and see if we can do better, but this thing of just blaming cars for everything is just another waste of time.
For example, there has been suggested that if we worked to reverse the destruction of land into desert that we would promote the growth of enough greenery to end and reverse global warming ....
Alan Savory: How to green the world's deserts and reverse climate change