News

Permit parking gets green light in Evergreen Park

Palo Alto council backs neighborhood's effort to limit parking for California Avenue employees

For workers around California Avenue, the era of free all-day parking on nearby residential streets is about to come to an end.

In a move that will shift the parking landscape in Palo Alto's "second downtown" and ripple far beyond the boundaries of business district, the City Council voted Monday night to establish a new Residential Preferential Parking (RPP) district in the Evergreen Park and Mayfield neighborhoods, which lie just north and south of California Avenue, respectively. Once the program takes effect in April, parking on the residential streets will be limited to two hours for cars without permits.

More than a year in the making, the new program is fashioned after the one that the city launched in downtown in 2015 to address a flurry of complaints from Professorville, Downtown North and other downtown neighborhoods. Much like that program, the California Avenue initiative was sparked by a grassroots effort from residents concerned about the impacts of commercial growth. Like in the downtown program, permits would be available to all residents and to a limited number of employees. And like in downtown, the program would only be enforced on the weekdays, during working hours (in this case, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.).

There are, however, a few key differences. The downtown program started out with 2,000 employee permits, which the provision that the number would be reduced by 10 percent every year. The pilot program in Evergreen Park will offer 250 employee permits, scattered along three zones, and no phase-out plan. Furthermore, the program near California Avenue will give priority to those employees who are currently on the waiting list for a garage permit.

Under the new program, each household would get one permit, with the option of buying up to four more for $50 each. For employees, the annual permit would cost $149, though low-income workers would get a discounted rate of $50.

The program, which the council approved by an 8-0 vote (with Vice Mayor Liz Kniss recusing), isn't exactly what Evergreen Park residents lobbied for when they approached the city with a petition last year. Initially, they were seeking a program similar to the one in College Terrace, which provides permits only to residents. Even so, for the dozens of residents who attended the meeting and stayed until nearly midnight for the vote, the RPP represented a welcome compromise and the surest path to near-term relief from daily employee intrusion.

In lobbying for the program, Evergreen Park residents argued that California Avenue's recent growth spurt has turned their neighborhood streets into a "parking lot" for commuters. Marilyn Mayo, who lives in the neighborhood, said area employees have become "part of the terrain" on her block. She compared Evergreen Park to Swiss cheese, with the holes representing the different needs of the people who park there. She and others talked about how this diminishes the residents' sense of community.

"How many holes can you have in Swiss cheese before it crumbles and falls apart?" she asked. "We're really threadbare right now."

Resident Tommy Derrick said he and his neighbors are happy to have California Avenue customers park in their neighborhood for two-hour blocks. But all-day employee parking is another matter.

"We believe that employee parking is your problem and their problem," Derrick told the council. "I urge you to put intense pressure to move forward, to find solution to employee parking and to stop asking the neighborhood to provide that solution to that problem."

The council did just that. While members squabbled over some fine details and agreed to add a few provisions to the staff proposal -- including one that allows permit transfers between employees from the same business -- the final product was very close to what planning staff recommended. The new district is bounded by El Camino Real, Park Boulevard, the Caltrain corridor and Page Mill Road (the Weekly's office on Cambridge Avenue is within the district). The only property that would not be eligible for the permits is the former Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority parking lot at 2755 El Camino Real, where plans are afoot to build a housing complex with 60 small apartments geared toward residents without cars.

But while the residents rejoiced, the dentists in the crowd were more subdued. Several have offices in the California Avenue area, including along El Camino. Taking away residential spots and severely limiting permit sales, they said, would make it much more difficult for them to hire staff and accommodate customers. Some asked that the council offer special permits for health care providers.

Tim Mulcahy, a dentist with an office on El Camino, said he has 14 employees who "deserve a realistic place to park." Some of his patients, including children and elderly people, would also have a hard time safely parking on El Camino, he said.

"I'd prefer to have a usable workable solution for all -- not just for residents," Mulcahy said.

While Mayor Greg Scharff sympathized and proposed making an extra 50 permits available for medical professionals, the rest of the council didn't support the idea. The council also rejected a proposal from Councilman Greg Tanaka to exclude Mayfield from the program but to make it eligible for joining on a street-by-street basis, through resident petitions.

Councilman Eric Filseth, who made the motion to approve the program, pointed to the abundance of transit options that the business district offers for area workers.

"Between Caltrain, the Marguerite, El Camino and VTA and so forth, this is about as transit rich as it gets," Filseth said. "If we can't get it to work here, we ought to throw in the towel and build giant garages everywhere."

Scharff agreed.

"The neighborhood really has been impacted and it has taken too long," Scharff said. "I think it's really important that we focus on quality of life in the neighborhood."

Related content:

Managers worry Palo Alto parking program could harm business

Editorial: A new parking mess?

City looks to bring permit parking to Evergreen Park streets

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Comments

17 people like this
Posted by Train Neighbor
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 24, 2017 at 7:12 am

Train Neighbor is a registered user.

Thank you Palo Alto City Council and neighbors who came in support of RPP for Evergreen and Mayfield.

If Council is serious about addressing traffic and climate change then driving alone HAS TO GET MORE EXPENSIVE AND MORE DIFFICULT!

$149 a year for a garage parking permit? That is only 7 cents per HOUR for a 9 hour work day!


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2017 at 7:37 am

The anti parking policy has to be replaced with a parking policy that works.

The cars are coming because the occupants need to get here and there is no alternative that makes sense. Not everyone wants an annual permit in a garage or even a monthly permit in a garage. We need more places for all days parkers to park. These should be available at all sorts of places, freeway on ramps with shuttles, all garages and lots, etc. and payment should be much easier than the present system. This is high tech Silicon Valley, but we have a very low tech parking system. We have no signs, and no methods of parking payment by machines or meters that take credit cards and phone app payments. There should be 20 minute parking outside retail. The last time I had to drop something off at the Cal Ave area I could find nowhere to park at 11.15. What should have been a 2 minute drop off became over a 1 hour delay in my day. Sure you might say that I should have walked or rode a bike, but the point was that I was on my way to another meeting in another city and this made me late. We should be able to get where we want and do in an efficient manner then get on with the next item on our schedule and not look on every trip as a single destination ordeal.

The solutions have become embarrassingly complex and old school. We should be leaders in technology usage, not ignorers of technology. This is going to cause more problems for everyone.


8 people like this
Posted by Be positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 24, 2017 at 8:28 am

Be positive is a registered user.

I agree with Resident, more 30 minutes spots are needed on Cal Ave and Downtown.


11 people like this
Posted by Becky Sanders
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 24, 2017 at 11:04 am

Democracy in Action. This is how it works. You give something. You get something. You compromise. I didn't get everything I wanted to see happen last night, but hey they looked at the issue from all sides and this is what they arrived at. I don't even live in Evergreen, but I see the writing on the wall in Ventura. And I think addressing these impacts of business growth into what used to be a fairly sleepy town with even sleepier neighborhoods is taking the bull by the horns, instead of letting the bull trample the flower garden. Thank you Council and everybody for showing up. I was very excited to see teenagers there. The more we see of our youth the better for all of us. I am feeling a pinprick of conscience for the professionals like Tim who have practices in under-parked buildings along El Camino and can't use the spaces that the mobile homes seem to get away with using. We'll need to find a way to help these health care providers without impacting the neighborhood. Someone said "valet" parking. That would be pretty cool. You arrive and your car is whisked away and you just roll into the dentist's chair. Go City Council! Go Citizens! Go Dentists! Go Gennady and thanks for your faithful reporting on the City Hall beat.


8 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 24, 2017 at 11:05 am

Annette is a registered user.

Maybe the City could negotiate a special "around town" rate with Uber. I used Uber last week to travel between work and a lunch meeting so that I was assured of getting to the meeting on time and not wasting time in a futile search for parking. This cost me $20 but it was efficient. I find Uber much more reliable and available than taxis and it nicely fills in where the shuttle leaves off. Yeah, it's a car driving around so not a perfect answer, but I think there is no perfect answer. Maybe there could also be a valet lot near the Cal Ave businesses so people who must, for instance, get to medical appointments have a realistic chance of parking.


10 people like this
Posted by Becky Sanders
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 24, 2017 at 11:14 am

Oh my bad. I want to shout out to Hillary Gitelman and to Josh Mello on City Staff, without whose efforts this could not have been accomplished. Josh you worked like anything to make this happen and we so appreciate you and your efforts.


6 people like this
Posted by Office Park
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2017 at 11:28 am

Residents in Old Palo Alto need to begin organizing to keep California Ave workers from parking in their neighborhood. Workers are already beginning to park on Emerson Street and other streets close to the Cal Ave walking underpass. Old Palo Alto already has a problem with parking issues with the Baptist Church at N. California and Bryant St. The church has basically become an office building. Mozart Music School has approximately 400 students taking music lessons at the church. They do not have the required Conditional Use Permit. There is also a vocal music school being run at the church facility. There are approximately 20 companies renting office space at the church. Parking is encroaching on Old Palo Alto residential streets.


15 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2017 at 11:29 am

38 year resident is a registered user.

No resident needs 5 parking permits (1 plus up to 4 each). This is clearly an outrageous attempt to freeze out people who work in the area and keep the streets reserved for residents only.

As someone who owns commercial property in the Evergreen Park neighborhood (medical office buildings) for the last 27 years and a Palo Alto homeowner for the last 40, I have witnessed on a daily basis many residents on Park Blvd. parking in front of their homes and taking up two parking spaces, all while their driveways, most of which can accommodate two vehicles are empty. On weekends the cars are in the driveway and the streets are empty.

I get the residents concern, but I'm also a part of the neighborhood. This wasn't as big a problem before Stanford started charging it's employees, many of whom are lower income workers, to park on campus.

The streets belong to the public and are not the property of home owners. Our employees need spaces to park. How will they be guaranteed permits?

Squeaky wheels getting greased. It's the Palo Alto Way.


3 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2017 at 11:39 am

38 year resident is a registered user.

@ Office Park...you're absolutely right. I live a few doors from the church and while they have been great neighbors for many years, their congregation is dwindling and the rental incomes most likely, are keeping it afloat. Parking on Bryant, South Court and N. California Ave. has dramatically increased with the music school and other entities.

Still, I don't feel it necessary to organize the neighborhood to restrict parking to residents. I use my driveway like most people in the area.


4 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 24, 2017 at 11:44 am

I live in the affected area and have a need for 5 permits. It's going to cost me $200/year and I live close enough to CA that the parking situation won't be any different to me but I support the RPP. The only way to change our car culture is to force it and taking away parking is a solution that has been proven to work.


4 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2017 at 12:12 pm

38 year resident is a registered user.

@Brian...you cannot force people to change. We live in a car culture and try as you may it won't change that fact. The only way to do that would be to ban cars....and then you wouldn't need 5 permits.


7 people like this
Posted by Jeanie Smith
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 24, 2017 at 12:12 pm

Yay! Thanks to everyone who has made this, finally, a reality... Yes there is compromise on both sides, and it remains to be seen how it works-- no doubt there will be tweaking down the road-- but at least this is a beginning!

I haven't seen anyone mention that not only do we have employees parking in the neighborhood, but also people who use Caltrain for commuting-- EP has become a free "long-term parking" solution for many who don't want to pay for parking in the train station lot. I'm happy to think this too will go away...

Can't wait to get my permits...


10 people like this
Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Brian,

We had a discussion last night on this point, and of course nobody really knew for sure. May I ask you how you'll use five permits?

Thanks, Eric


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Please could someone tell me how this RPP will help me find parking for a 2 minute drop off of tax material on my way to a meeting in Redwood City? All 2 hour spots get filled long before lunch time and the drive in circles to find somewhere to park for 10 minutes causes me to be part of the traffic problem in the area.

Am I the only person who needs to drop off or pick up tax materials as part of my busy day?

Don't tell me to walk 30 minutes there and back from my house to pick up my car before driving to Redwood City. I just don't have the time for it, particularly if I want to pick up groceries on the way home too.





2 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2017 at 2:26 pm

38 year resident is a registered user.

@ Eric Filseth....I wouldn't expect an answer.


11 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Businesses located in the residential area (such as dentists and doctors) should get priority for all-day permits in the residential parking permit areas just approved, as well as for the ones around Downtown.

We need an Transportation Management Association for other parts of Palo Alto, not just Downtown, that will allow reductions in commercial parking in the residential neighborhoods.

Eventually commercial parking in residential neighborhoods should be phased out except for those businesses located in the residential neighborhood, and low income service and retail workers.


7 people like this
Posted by Arthur Keller
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm

@ Resident: Having 30 minute parking spaces is a good idea and is independent of having a residential parking parmit program. Isn't there already a 30 minute parking space outside the USPS on Cambridge? We could have more of those.


15 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2017 at 3:45 pm

"As someone who owns commercial property in the Evergreen Park neighborhood (medical office buildings)..."

So why haven't you provided full on-site parking for your building occupants, instead of presuming an entitlement to socialized "free" parking at your neighbors' expense? [Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 24, 2017 at 3:48 pm

@ Eric & 38 Year resident. The number of vehicles I have used to be a direct result of of a nighttime parking problem when the nightclub was located on CA Avenue. I have been in the neighborhood for 30 years. I finally got tired of picking up liquor bottles and condoms. I used to restore cars and had a small collection surrounding my corner lot. The problem went away. The number of cars I currently have is just a holdover from then. I don't need that many but it used to be cheap enough that it didn't matter. I put more miles on my bikes than I do my cars but they all serve a different purpose. Everybody makes their own decisions on what works for them but I do not park ANY of my car in front of anybody else's house unless it's street sweeping time.

As far as not changing people's habits you might want to have a look at the idea of induced demand. Web Link It works in reverse also.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 24, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Regarding maxing out your allotment, who knows... If the parking drought worsens, we all may be asked to cut back 20% next year. Those who have been the most conservative will be the least able to comply. We've been taught to "use it or lose it."


4 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2017 at 4:48 pm

38 year resident is a registered user.

@ Curmudgeon...[Portion removed.] We have 28 spaces designated for parking. That's all the lot will allow. Our staffs rotate days in the lot so that patients who visits these medical practices can park during their appointments. We do our best to limit our street parking and have for many years.

We will be more than happy to pay for permits and [portion removed] our overhead isn't an issue.

Once again, residents don't own the streets and my concern is the disproportionate number of permits that will be issued to them leaving other tax paying citizens in a bind.

[Portion removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 24, 2017 at 5:37 pm

[Post removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by the good neighbor(s)
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 24, 2017 at 5:38 pm

My family lives in Evergreen Park. We are excited to finally have a program and wish we could have attended more meetings. Thank you to those who did. I hope we can resolve any remaining issues such as so many Stanford employees parking and biking to campus in our areas. I also want to say that we are patients at the dental office and the optometry practice. Some of you don't know how fortunate we are to have them. Dr. Stan B came in on Sunday to open his office and to treat an emergency for us. We are forever grateful- Their work is unbelievably perfect and they are a group of the most gracious people one can ask to be around. Dr. Tayeri and his team are amazing. We CAN and SHOULD do everything we can to keep them before a pub or a startup opens if we can't.


Posted by Ummmm
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Jan 24, 2017 at 6:09 pm


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Like this comment
Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 25, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Brian,

Understand - thanks very much.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Arthur Keller.

Thank you for your agreement about the 30 minute parking spots.

I mentioned it particularly because this is a parking discussion and part of a parking discussion as far as I can see, is to discuss how to enable those of us who need to park to be able to do so.

I fully understand the residents' concerns, but there is the other side of the equation. Bill Johnson on one of the threads explained the difficulties of the Weekly's employees in their parking habits and the difficulties in the permit process. There is also the need for people to be able to park short term, or to park all day on an occasional basis.

This RPP probably does help the residents, but it doesn't help anyone else. We are losing bus services in town. We are building more and more housing and also office space which will make more resident population and more daytime population. There is no proof that this will make a big overlap. The need for people to be able to live their daily lives will remain, at least for the foreseeable future, as requiring a car at least on an occasional basis.

I look on traffic/parking as a three legged stool. We have residents, we have employees/shoppers who want several hour parking on a daily or occasional basis and we have those who need short term in and out parking for quick errands. We have to balance all three legs of the parking/traffic stool to solve the problem. Dealing with one leg and ignoring the others won't help balance the stool.


7 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 2:23 pm

Actually Rpp's help everyone except all day parkers. Businesses and residents both need short term parking.

Streets that are 90-100% filled with long term parkers make the streets disfunctional for retail, eating, dental and medical, day care, dry cleaners, professional services, etc... and residencial uses.

Even in a program like College Terrace which prohibits long term parkers, businesses from El Camino Real like restaurants, banks and even small offices rely on the two hour parking for patrons repair people, folks getting their teeth cleaned and people going to meetings that the RPPP provides.

The problem in Evergreen, Mayfield and the business district has arisen from the fact that businesses that do not serve the general public like software firms and R&D firms have been allowed to creep in. These types of businesses are not allowed by zoning in the Cal Ave business district. Blatant disregard to the municipal code has lead to an unnatural imbalance in those who live and work legally in the area and the area and the nonconforming uses. This has contributing to an increase in Single Occupancy Vehicle trips and the associated pollution in addition to the parking issues.

The merchants. legit businesses and small medical offices etc... should be working together to demand that the city not allow the illegal software and R&D companies in the district and that the ones already here should use creative ways to reduce their employees SOV trips, utilizing carpooling, public transportation, telecommuting and private busses etc... so that the negative impacts to dentist doctors lawyers accountants, grocer etc... etc... are mitigated.

Please staff enforce the law and save our small business retail and professional offices for all!


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

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