News

Palo Alto looks to bring permit parking to Evergreen Park

Proposal calls for making 250 permits available to employees in the California Avenue area

For years, residents of Evergreen Park have been raising alarms about their neighborhood streets turning into parking lots for employees of California Avenue, a problem that has worsened during the recent surge of development in the city's "second downtown."

On Monday, the City Council may take a giant step in alleviating their concerns when it considers a new permit program that would significantly curtail the ability of employees to park in neighborhoods.

Largely modeled on the permit program that went into effect downtown in September 2015, the new program around California Avenue would make permits available to every household. It would also make 250 permits available to area employees. For everyone else, the streets would become a two-hour parking zone (full disclosure: Palo Alto Weekly is headquartered on Cambridge Avenue, within the business district).

Much like with the downtown program, which many have credited with alleviating congestion in Professorville and Downtown North, the annual employee permits would be sold for $149, or $50 for low-income workers. Residents would get one free permit and an option to buy up to four more, for $50 each. If the council approves the program Monday, enforcement of the one-year pilot program would begin on April 1.

Under the proposed program, the parking restrictions would be in effect from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

One potential point of debate is boundaries. When residents petitioned the city in March to create the new permit districts, the area was bounded by Park Boulevard, the Caltrain rail corridor, Cambridge Avenue and El Camino Real. Since then, city staff decided to add the Mayfield area into the district, thus stretching the district's southern boundary to Page Mill Road. This despite the fact that the support for the new district appears to be lower in Mayfield than in Evergreen Park. According to surveys that the city mailed out to residents, 72 percent of the respondents to the December survey said they favor the new program, while 60 percent in Mayfield gave the program the thumbs up.

In a report, planning staff said they believe that the inclusion of the Mayfield area "is necessary to better distribute permitted employee parking and prevent the relocation of unpermitted employee and long term parking to the Mayfield area south of the California Avenue business district."

"This decision was reached after discussing various other scenarios with residents, employers and other stakeholders," the report sated.

The Planning and Transportation Commission was somewhat skeptical about the inclusion of Mayfield and recommended that the area be made "eligible" for entering the district through a simple application process, on a block-by-block basis. The commission also recommended that the permit district be broken up into subzones, with the permits specifying the subzone in which the car can park. This way, employee cars would be dispersed throughout the area and not be concentrated on those blocks closest to California Avenue.

During the Dec. 14 commission meeting, a group of Evergreen Park residents urged the commission to endorse the new permit program, which it did, even as they acknowledged that it is far from perfect. Christian Pease, a longtime proponent of the new parking restrictions, said that while there remain "a lot of concerns," the pilot program will allow residents, staff and merchants to collect data and "make a judgment on how to proceed from there, and adjust the program as needed."

Terry Holzemer, who lives on California Avenue, also spoke in support of the new program, with one modification: fewer permits for area employees. Giving employees 250 parking spaces every year, he said, is effectively "allowing them to park in our neighborhood on a really permanent basis."

"We should be trying to encourage the businesses as much as possible in reducing commercial parking either through other methods or some way of reducing that and making sure that the parking spaces that are there ... are for residents that live in the area."

But the program also raised concerns from some area employees. Reza Riahi, a Palo Alto endodontist who was a past president of the Mid-Peninsula Dental Society, said many of the group's members with offices in downtown California Avenue are concerned about their staff members losing their ability to park on the street. While he did not speak out against the program, he emphasized that "not all businesses are the same" and urged city officials to create a subset of permits that would be available to health care providers in both downtown and California Avenue. Unlike other employee permits, these would not be phased out over the years (in the downtown program, the number of permits sold to workers decreases by 10 percent every year.

Taking away parking, Riahi said, could prompt local practitioners to lose their staff and, ultimately, to move.

"And so locally, the access to your local health care or dental care would be lost that way," he said.

Related content:

Permit parking gets green light in Evergreen Park

Managers worry Palo Alto parking program could harm business

Editorial: a parking mess?

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

20 people like this
Posted by biker mom
a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 17, 2017 at 10:23 am

We have one car, and a one car garage and no driveway and no parking on our street and closest parking is limited to 2 hrs. So, when people come to visit or workers come to work on my house it's a major problem. I would get the day permits so that visitors can park in the parking lot closer to Palo Alto Pizza company, however, that will be replaced by police station soon. Plus there are 2 large developments going on along Park Blvd south of Cal Ave which will take up street parking for a while and I know their employees will also use the small amount of unlimited parking that the condo residents depend on. This city has got to understand that people live here. Please stop catering to only visitors. And on another note, if you build more parking garages, it's only going to be a bigger incentive for people to drive and not commute via public transportation. Why does the city not see that. This area is very congestion at certain times of the day.

When driving south on Park BLVD to get onto the Oregon Ramp during the 5-7pm hr the is a line of cars, which will then line up past Sheridan ave in the bike lane because they're all trying to make that right hand turn...well guess how many bikers the other night I saw have a near miss? 3. Within a minute. because they had to out of the bike lane, into the traffic lane to go around the cars...and it's dark and everyone is stressed and anxious to get home. Just wait. There are going to be some big accidents.


8 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 17, 2017 at 10:28 am

I support the permit program. If parking is a limited resource, then we may need a formal system to distribute it. However, this is only a short term band-aid. The real solution will be to build more parking garages, coordinate our public transit with those of neighboring jurisdictions, and other measures that reduce the ratio of cars parked to spaces available.


19 people like this
Posted by More Fees To Simply Live in Palo Alto
a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 17, 2017 at 10:37 am

This is not a good idea for the Mayfield community. There are too many multi-unit living apartments, and it is a very transient neighborhood, where people in those apartments are constantly moving in/out and relocating. How do new people find out about the parking program with so much tenancy turnover? In addition, there are usually more than one person with a vehicle who co-habit in this units in order to be able to afford the rent. So, in essence, the City of Palo Alto is creating an extra tax for people to be able to park their vehicles on the street. Tenants already pay for these services, as they should be included in their rent. The rents are way too high in the Mayfield area for the City of Palo Alto to impose more fees, like parking. Who cares if employees who currently park in Evergreen area, spill over to Mayfield? Employees who work on Cal Ave and in the vicinity already park on the residential streets of Mayfield, and we somehow co-exist. In addition, this area has lots of seniors who have caregivers. How will they park without being charged a parking ticket? The only way this program will work is if the one free parking permit can be used on any vehicle in the household, so that caregivers, and visitors can use the permit when they are visiting. Stop impacting us financially. We already pay too much in rent, and utilities.


10 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 17, 2017 at 11:02 am

I support the concept of a Parking Permit Program in neighborhoods where employees haven taken over most of the parking for 8-10 hours a day, making it nearly impossible for residents, especially the ones who do not have driveways, to park even close to their homes.

However, I do have an observation. On our R1 block we have a developer who has been renovating his giant home for more than 14 years. He owns three cars. In addition, he has 3-4 renters (mostly short-term) who also have cars. Moreover, his renovation efforts bring in multiple (4-5) contractors on a daily basis. What is unexplainable, is that most of these cars have resident stickers stuck on their car. How is that possible?

Many days 30-40% of available parking is occupied by cars related to this one residence. This behavior is not very neighborly.


24 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 17, 2017 at 11:06 am

@ More Fees...You make many strong arguments for why increasing high density development without parking should be opposed by everyone living in Palo Alto. Everyone's lives are impacted: yours, caregivers, tenants, employees, shoppers, and residents adjacent to shopping areas whose streets are increasingly filled with the noise and pollution of people looking for parking places. What is the cost of nobody being happy to live here any more because none of us can do the things necessary for our lives without making others unhappy? For instance the comment "Who cares if employees who currently park in Evergreen area, spill over to Mayfield?" is an expression you might want to reconsider. The people living there care a lot, as would you, I expect. The RPP programs are an effort to protect ALL the residents from expansions of business and commerce into residential neighborhoods that were never intended to become parking lots for employees.


11 people like this
Posted by Jeanie Smith
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 17, 2017 at 11:20 am

YAY! this can't happen soon enough! Finally! A huge thank you to all the people who have been working on making this a reality. I've lived in EP for 25 years and watched the parking situation go from bad to horrible to impossible. Let's get it going and then we can tweak it with more info...


39 people like this
Posted by too many permits per resident
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 17, 2017 at 11:25 am

I agree with the idea of permit parking–I live in Evergreen Park and, even though I have a designated parking spot which suffices for our one car, repair people need to circle around and around looking for parking. However, I believe that there is absolutely no reason for residents like myself to be able to purchase up to FOUR more parking permits. This will just lead to residents buying permits they don't need and then turning around and selling them to Cal Ave employees, defeating the purpose of the program. Two permits (+ some guest passes) per household should suffice.


5 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 17, 2017 at 3:19 pm

@too many permits...you're exactly right. No Evergreen resident needs 4 to 5 permits and your suggestion makes sense. As a 25 year commercial property owner in the neighborhood and a local home owner for 40 years, I think this may be an attempt by residents to freeze out any one other than themselves or as you suggest, profit from the sale of permits.

It's sad that many Evergreen residents along Park Blvd. park their cars in front of their homes in a way that takes up two spaces while their driveways, many of which can accommodate two cars remain empty all day.

The streets do not belong to homeowners. The city is setting a dangerous precedent by allowing every neighborhood group that collects signatures to commandeer the public right of way. These same neighborhoods already have barriers on many streets preventing accessibility to public right of way.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2017 at 4:41 pm

This is becoming a more complicated situation and doesn't help anyone who needs to park, park where and when they need to for as long as they need to whether it is on a daily basis or an occasional basis.

We are becoming known as a city of complicated parking issues. Mountain View residents are continually saying they don't want their parking situation to become as complicated as Palo Alto. People are not going to eat or shop in Palo Alto because parking is complicated. People are unable to park because we don't have a parking policy. Instead we have an anti-parking policy.

Let's get 20 minute parking outside retail. Let's get parking meters so that everybody (except the local residents who have hangers to exempt them) has to pay for anything over the minimum. Let's get pay per hour parking in garages and lots so that anyone can pay be credit card or by phone app without complicated permits. Let's get signs on our garages to show whether there is any space inside before entry and where the parking spots are inside. Let's get the monthly or annual parking passes on the top floors so that shorter term parkers can park easily.

Let's just get some common sense parking solutions rather than more anti-parking measures.


19 people like this
Posted by 2 hours
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 17, 2017 at 6:29 pm

2 hours of free parking should be more than enough for anyone visiting local businesses, including restaurants. Hopefully a RPPP will encourage offices around Cal Ave to step up to the plate and provide incentives for their employees to use alternatives to driving to work.


6 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Jan 18, 2017 at 7:06 am

I believe the downtown, University Avenue area where I live, RPPP program is a huge success and I am very happy with it.


9 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2017 at 7:55 am

I live in Barron Park where we do not have parking permits and probably never will. I agree with "Biker Mom" although I do have a driveway. The parking permit program has essentially banned me from shopping or attending to other errands downtown and on California Ave.
I once enjoyed shopping downtown. I would stay much of the day and park in the same place for the whole time. While shopping I would look at all the shops along the area, often stopping into a craft or arts store or gallery. This usually led to a chat with the owner/clerk. I often included lunch and occasionally a movie along with these trips. That way I was able to take care of everything in one day. Parking permits and strict 2-hour zones put a stop to that.
Although I am a resident of Palo Alto and have been for many years, paying all taxes every year, I am now blocked from such forays. I do not like it!
Why does Palo Alto continue to favor one set of residents over another?
We in Barron Park have been plagued by multiple construction projects within the neighborhood. Each of these projects has included many trucks and cars parked in front to nearby homes often blocking driveways. Then the parkers often park in the middle of the street. Our streets are narrow, even one large truck parked in the middle will obstruct traffic.
Why has it become so impossible to get police enforcement of traffic issues, except for those monitoring parking limits in areas with parking permits? Any does the City not grant free permits for all residents to park in any area for free? You expect local shoppers to pay to park in our own city yet residents of the neighborhood get many special permits,


8 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Jan 18, 2017 at 8:19 am

@sunshine

Totally agree. All of Palo Alto should be one cohesive RPPP - not patchwork. If you live in Baron Park, you should be able to park downtown all day. If you live near University Avenue you should be able to park near California Avenue all day.


14 people like this
Posted by Look at SF and Berkeley
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 18, 2017 at 9:24 am

Both downtown Berkeley and much of SF have meter or 2-hour parking for non-residents as a deliberate attempt to discourage cars and people to use public transportation. Rather than lamenting the reduced parking around Downtown and Cal Ave--areas with excellent public transportation options like Caltrain--I'd suggest that folks consider getting out of their cars and finding alternative ways of getting to work.


18 people like this
Posted by Native Palo Altan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 10:17 am

The bigger issue is City Council allowing all the new businesses which bring people into our city. Our population is 66,000 but during the weekdays it swells up to 250,000 according to PAPD data. City Council members are all older, with grown children so the impact of traffic doesn't affect them as much. What is the point of expanding? How does it help our community? Are they being paid-off? Being a mom of children in PAUSD, I can tell you that these last two years of traffic have been unbearable during rush hours when I'm driving my children to extracurricular activities after school and on the occasional mornings. And drivers blow through blatant red lights all the time. Churchill was rarely used a decade ago but now it's an expressway, dangerous for our biking students.

The suggestion that more traffic will convince people to take public transportation is wishful thinking. I want my city back. That's wishful thinking too.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2017 at 10:51 am

You can't expect people to use public transportation when they keep taking it away.

VTA is doing nothing to help us. Shuttles are totally inadequate at getting kids to school and commuters to Caltrain.

We desperately need better public transportation that is efficient and makes it easier to get somewhere than taking your personal car and looking for parking.


14 people like this
Posted by Puh-LEEZE
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2017 at 1:11 pm

Puh-LEEZE is a registered user.

ONE parking permit per family/household PLEASE!

One per driver/vehicle is costly and time-consuming.


Like this comment
Posted by True Residentialist
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2017 at 4:35 pm

@Cheryl Lilienstein
Why is a PASZ leader advocating for the massive land giveaway to single-family homeowners that is the Residential Parking Permit Program? It provides permits at a rate well below what one could charge for a parking space if they were traded on the private market.

You write, "The RPP programs are an effort to protect ALL the residents from expansions of business and commerce into residential neighborhoods that were never intended to become parking lots for employees." I don't know what evidence you have for this idea of "intent." A public street is a *public* street! And it's equally clear to me that public streets were not intended to be de facto driveway parking for residents who often have their own off-street garages and driveways.

People bought homes proximate to the town's business districts realizing the risk of congestion. Now that they are dealing with the consequences of that decision, they're demanding changed rules.

The de facto result of the RPP is to privatize public streets to serve affluent homeowners. It's not a solution to the problem of congestion. It's a discount land grab by homeowners.

If you really do support the principle of managing parking demand and supply, why not support a true market-rate permit program? That would address parking congestion but wouldn't subsidy homeowners.


4 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2017 at 6:45 am

@True Residentialist

Your analysis would make sense if residential neighborhood street parking was a tradeable resource and we had a policy to maximize its use. It’s not and we don’t. There’s no harm to the business districts if residential streets have empty parking spaces.

Since it’s not a tradeable resource, there’s no “giveaway”. There’s an implementation of Comp Plan and Zoning policies. The business districts need to improve their TDM and transit game if they’ve run out of parking spaces.

You’re also confused about what public street means. No one is restricting driving on public streets (although there’s emerging concern that Waze directs through-traffic to non-arterial streets). It’s established public policy that cities can regulate parking on public streets and they can favor residents over other users.


2 people like this
Posted by What happened?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 24, 2017 at 12:08 am

So what was decided at the Monday night meeting??


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

He said – she said – who is lying? Justice Brett Kavanaugh or PA resident Christine Ford
By Diana Diamond | 39 comments | 1,463 views

Global Warming Diet
By Laura Stec | 6 comments | 1,238 views

Couples: "Taming Your Gremlin" by Richard Carson
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,086 views

Preparing for kindergarten
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 594 views

 

Pre-registration ends tomorrow!

​On Friday, September 21, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run, or—for the first time—half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

Learn More