Town Square

Brainstorm for downtown residential spillover parking

Original post made by Steve Raney, Crescent Park, on Aug 15, 2013

I wonder if there may be a politically viable way to bring Parking Panda ("rent your San Francisco driveway parking space to folks using smartphones") "sharing economy" technology to SOFA and Downtown North to address spillover residential parking (where employees park in front of residences) in a win/win/win/win manner for residents, developers of new projects, workers, and The City. Such a program could dramatically increase the supply of parking, while generating income for residents and The City. Old-fashioned Residential Permit Parking Programs represent a lose/lose/lose/lose solution.

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 16, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Interesting idea. Sound like someone has their thinking cap on ... but this implies that the parking spaces in front of your house belong to you, which they do not as far as I understand. You can do that with a driveway, but there are probably precious few driveways that can be rented out and are not being used either for parking or for driveways.

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Posted by Janis Hom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 16, 2013 at 3:48 pm

Good stuff, allows real estate owners get some money from a major asset. Now let the SOFA and Downtown North residents build on this idea to make it fit their specific needs.

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Posted by Steve Raney
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 19, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Excerpts from a Q&A I just had with the with Green Planning Action:

Q1: Please explain why the Parking Panda scheme is so much better than a Residential Parking Permit (RPP) program.

A1: The main point is that the Parking Panda scheme provides more benefits to more stakeholders than RPP. The sharing-economy sensibility is to be more economically efficient than traditional solutions.

For residents, the Panda scheme generates new income for residents who may have previously been irritated by spillover parkers. Residents become entrepreneurial with their driveways and the public spaces in front of their house. Residents can also reserve public spaces in front of their house for a teeny fee (probably less than the parking permit costs per day). This reservation capability is great for guaranteeing a space for infrequent visitors from out of town. With RPP, residents have to pay for permits (they "lose" economically).

For developers of new projects, more spaces are available as downtown grows. The fact that there is a price on parking also means that employees will drive less, reducing SOV (single occupancy vehicle) commute mode share, hence reducing per-capita demand for parking. RPP does not reduce per-capita demand for parking, so developers have to fund more parking spaces per every new square foot they develop.

For downtown workers, more parking spaces are available. And workers can reserve a space in advance, so they don't have to anxiously hunt for a space at 8:45AM when they have a big meeting at 9:00AM. In addition, pricing serves as a motivator for mobility services to be re-configured to be more competitive against SOV commuting. With RPP, there are fewer spaces available, so it is more of a hassle for downtown workers and unnecessary tension is created between residents and workers.

For City of PA, the Panda scheme makes more spaces available, reducing the need for The City (and taxpayers) to fund expensive new parking structures. The scheme puts a price on parking, reducing SOV mode share, hence reducing per capita demand for parking. With RPP, fewer spaces are available for downtown workers, creating the need to build new, expensive parking structures.

Q2: Will the Panda scheme just push spillover issues out further?
A2: There are many implementation details to be worked out, but one scenario would be that parking east of Middlefield would still be free, and there could be some spillover in that area. But this could eventually be remedied by expanding the Panda scheme.

Q3: Any thoughts on climate?
A3: Given our climate issues and given that SOFA/University North residents are upset to the point of considering RPP, putting a price on parking is a sound way to nudge behavior towards a climate-friendly outcome. Charging for parking is the holy grail of suburban bay area "drive less" efforts. Influential stakeholders such as MTC, SVLG, Sierra Club, VTA, ACT (Association for Commuter Transportation) all support charging for parking.

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Posted by Steve Raney
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 19, 2013 at 8:43 pm

Dear CrescentParkAnon, re "this implies that the parking spaces in front of your house belong to you, which they do not as far as I understand."

1) you are absolutely correct, but ...
2) to win over stakeholders to an innovative new policy, there often has to be something in it for those stakeholders. So the Panda scheme attempts to make the proposal very compelling for SOFA and University North residents.

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Posted by Steve Raney
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm

From a Q&A I had with an influential Palo Alto stakeholder:

Q1: How would public spaces in front of rental apartments and houses figure into this proposal?
A1: One of many possible solutions for rental apartments is to not offer such apartment residents the preferred price ($0.25) for their associated public spaces. One potential solution for rental houses would be to have a process for owners to register home renters as the occupants entitled to $0.25 per day preferred price of the associated public spaces.

Q2: Do we know that there are enough on-street spaces to allocate in this way to every housing unit? Or does this favor lots with more street frontage?
A2: This would be covered in the detailed study. I'm guessing small footprint houses have 1 public space, more street frontage gives you two public spaces, and a corner house might have 4 public spaces. I suppose if a house has a fire hydrant, they might have 0 public spaces. The obvious point being that the allocation and revenue potential isn't going to be "economically fair."

Q3: How does this Panda scheme handle businesses located in downtown north and SOFA?
A3: One of many possible implementations might designate retail parking spaces with two hour time limits. Surely spaces adjacent to the Panda scheme zone will be impacted in some way and may need their own policy tweaking. For employees of said businesses, this Panda scheme should provide a richer supply of parking opportunities – it should be beneficial.

Q4: How does this Panda scheme handle visitors to residences located in those zones?
A4: Residents could reserve convenient on-street parking spaces for their guests, up to 30 days in advance. This will de-stress the situation at a teeny price.

Q5: How does this take into account the fact that dedicated parking spaces are typically less efficiently used than non-dedicated spaces.
A5: I think that the complaint from the residents near downtown is that the public spaces in front of their homes are used by employees on weekdays from 9-5. So I think the detail study should identify spaces that are used in that manner. But, in general, it's more elegant theoretically to charge by the hour (with "what the market will bear" rates) for all spaces and to not have special preferences for certain classes of people. But my proposal springs from realpolitik, aspiring to political viability by motivating the most influential stakeholders to happily participate in innovation.