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Palo Alto treads cautiously toward new downtown garage

Original post made on Jun 11, 2013

Everyone agrees that downtown Palo Alto is facing a parking crisis, but the city's latest solution to the problem -- a new five-story garage built in partnership with a private developer -- was blasted on Monday by some residents, downtown merchants and council members as an ill-advised and short-sighted giveaway of public land.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 10, 2013, 9:52 PM

Comments (14)

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 11, 2013 at 8:01 am

Parking permits are the dearth of parking in Palo Alto.

Get pay per hour machines at all lots and garages and see what happens.

Why is there an assumption that people want to park all day every day instead of all day once a week?

Why is parking in downtown so difficult? It is because the present system is too confusing, doesn't meet the needs of those who need to park, and those ridiculous permits!


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Posted by SteveU
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 11, 2013 at 8:17 am

SteveU is a registered user.

Then there are those trips where you thought you were going to be there all day, and made an extra stop at City Hall and purchased a permit, only to find the 'Downtown' phase was 2 hours :/
We need 'Permit Machines or a Web App of some kind' where you enter the Plate number and transfer the fee and the meter Maids hand-held verifies compliance at the lot.


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Posted by Tired of just process
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 11, 2013 at 8:29 am

The council again decided to study something rather than do it. No decisions from this bunch. They go from 4:00 to midnight and they don't get anything done


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jun 11, 2013 at 11:28 am

This is a very inefficient use of space. The current lot has 61 spaces.
With 5 stories there will be a total of 145 spaces which is only 29/floor, a reduction of more than 50%. The rest of the space presumably is ramps. This is a problem in other city multistory garages also. They are too small, so the ramp infrastructure takes up most of the area. Please build new parking structures on a large enough lot so that they are not so wasteful. We get 84 additional spaces at a cost of about $100,000 each. I suspect this cost would go down significantly if the space was used more effectively.
The cheapest way to increase parking place is to reduce the size of most of the parking slots and allocate them to small cars only. This should apply to all the existing garages and street parking. This would be consistent with Palo Alto policy of encouraging energy efficiency by discouraging the use of large vehicles.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2013 at 11:52 am

There is already a lot between Hamilton and University on High isn't there? Is this going to be demolished, refurbished or are we talking a different location. I don't like the idea of given the developer space to use while he is working - unless there is a very compelling reason for that.

When I think about it though, parking along Alma is a great idea I think. It is where many cars will be coming from, and it shields the rest of the city from the train noise. I can't think of anywhere better but along Alma.

It might even be better if something could fit along the train tracks where the current parking is now ... maybe even OVER Alma like some of the larger buildings in large cities ... have Alma go through the structure with appropriate lanes for entrance and exits.

Make it extensible so it can start out as a few stories and can be expanded upward later.

Then, when you go up there you can have a magnificent view of the whole of Palo Alto.

Turn University ONE-WAY and Hamilton THE-OTHER-WAY and you have a vision of Palo Alto that would:

1. Maintain the character of the city.
2. Fix traffic problems.
3. Fix pedestrian and bicyclist problems.
4. Create a perimeter for parking and future parking structures.
5. Keep the city walkable as well.
6. Expand Palo Alto Downtown from just University Ave. to University and Hamilton Ave.s

Summary, build a long overpass over Alma with a long parking structure over it that can be expanded as necessary between University and Hamilton which would be converted to ONE-WAY.


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2013 at 12:44 pm

" This would be consistent with Palo Alto policy of encouraging energy efficiency by discouraging the use of large vehicles."

Right. Large vehicles such as trains and buses. The train/bus station is not even a block away from this site. Keenan's garage would be the second parking garage built right in the heart of Palo Alto's alleged transit-oriented district. Anybody else see the disconnect?


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 11, 2013 at 2:28 pm

> Keenan's garage would be the second parking garage built right in the heart of Palo Alto's alleged transit-oriented district. Anybody else see the disconnect?

I think your logic here goes .... a "real" "transit-oriented district" should ONLY be reachable by foot, bicycle, pogo-stick, roller skates.

I don't see a disconnect here at all, in fact as I alluded to earlier, that area is the transit hub of Palo Alto, so why would we not want cars to be a possible half of a public transit lifestyle.

It's not like we are going to get rid of cars anytime soon, or that a public transit oriented policy should actively make owning a car painful is it? I sure hope not.

Cars are one of the most useful tools in the world today, and newer cars are evolving into non-polluting, possibly accident avoiding; fuel, trip and parking optimizing; possibly self-driving machines.

Public transit is great, but it's hard to say the drag that mandating its use by everyone would cause right now would be worth boxing everyone in without a clear vision everyone can agree to. That's a long way off.


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Posted by paco
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jun 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Let's get a blue ribbon committee on this immediately, but first, we should hire an outside consultant to give us needed information so nobody is held responsible for a wrong decision. Take a drive through one of the many downtown parking structures and you will find that parking is abuntantly available above the ground floor. It is obvious the city council has given control of city land use to developers such as "Chop" (as he is affectionately referenced by city council members and Palo Alto Weekly writers) and have no intention of controlling blight. Good luck! What a pity!


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 11, 2013 at 3:09 pm

"I think your logic here goes .... a "real" "transit-oriented district" should ONLY be reachable by foot, bicycle, pogo-stick, roller skates."

No, that's a pedestrian-oriented district.

I define a transit-oriented district as city hall does: an area where extra high density overdevelopment is encouraged on the premise that public mass transit (that's trains, buses, and trolleys), not private automobiles, will be the primary mode of travel to and from it. It is generally defined as a radius of 2000 feet from the transit hub, hence the enthusiasm for the merciless overdevelopment of our "transit-oriented" downtown. And hence the glut of automobiles there because the "transit-oriented" concept does not work in real life.

So I find it amusing that our city government giddily encourages "transit-oriented" development while it simultaneously poisons the concept by locating new parking garages in the center of its prime "transit-oriented" district to encourage automobiles. The irony, the irony.

BTW, do you commute by pogo stick often? Can I watch?


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Posted by Art
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 11, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Elaine Meyer got it right!

"Is the city incapable of building what it needs without enriching a private developer?" Meyer asked.

The city owns the lot site and should be able to proceed on its own, Meyer said.

"If the citizens thought it was an honest deal, we'd support it," Meyer said. "Put out a bond and we'll support it."

Simply put, this proposal does not pass the smell test


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Posted by curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2013 at 11:42 am

This is sure gonna solve our parking deficit.

The proposed garage would increase the parking on the site from 61 to 145 spaces. Of the added 84, Keenan's project gets 63 during the day. That leaves a net gain of 21 spots for other downtown parkers.

Wow. That's sure gonna solve our parking deficit.


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Posted by Chris K
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Almost right ... we should turn Lytton one way, Hamilton the other way, and close University to cars.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Chris said:
> Almost right ... we should turn Lytton one way, Hamilton the other way, and close University to cars.

That's an idea, but I think Forest is more business and Everett is more residential which means that is you made Lytton one-way and part of the main business section of Palo Alto you would encroach on more residences than if you moved the "center of mass" just a bit toward Hamilton ... also, the parking structure that exists already are more geared to service Hamilton and Unversity.

If you remove a street from traffic, you then create a bottleneck of displaced traffic that has to move all around areas that are more residential too.

Also you have the north section of Palo Alto bounded by the creek meaning that if you push more development and traffic in there it is more likely to cause a problem. On the other side is Embarcadero which is already geared towards managing traffic.


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Posted by Justin
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2013 at 9:56 pm

No consideration for parking meters? The city should at least consider focusing on demand before hastily wasting valuable downtown space.


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