City to 'dig deep' on new California Ave. garage | News | Palo Alto Online |


City to 'dig deep' on new California Ave. garage

Despite higher costs, City Council agrees to raise parking capacity and include two basement levels in new parking facility

Spurred by impassioned pleas from California Avenue merchants, the City Council agreed on Monday night to dramatically increase the number of spaces that would be included in a new garage that is being planned for the business district.

Despite numerous disagreements about the optimal design for the new facility, the council coalesced around a four-story garage with an additional two underground levels and no retail. The new garage, which would go up on a city-owned lot on Sherman Avenue and Birch Street, would have a total of 636 total parking spaces. Because it would occupy an existing parking lot, the net addition would be 315 spaces -- roughly double the number that was envisioned two years ago.

The council chose this alternative from a menu of seven options. Two of these included a retail component, in keeping with direction that council provided in December 2015. The other five were all devoted exclusively to parking, though they varied by size and the number of underground levels.

If things go as planned, construction would commence next year and be completed by summer 2019. The city would then shift its attention to building a new public-safety building at another city-owned lot, across the street from the new garage.

By agreeing to scrap retail from the garage plan, the council went along with the overwhelming sentiment from California Avenue's business community, where the idea of going not just "big" but "as big as possible" has been gaining traction in recent weeks. Owners of 20 area businesses -- including La Bodeguita del Medio, The Cobblery, The Counter, Molly Stone's, Izzy's Bagels, Sundance the Steakhouse and Zombie Runner -- co-signed a letter to the council this week, urging the council to include as many spaces in the new facility as it can.

Without sufficient parking, the letter states, customers will stop coming and employees will be forced to park in residential zones. The long-term stability of California Avenue, they wrote, requires a parking structure with two levels of underground parking and at least three or four levels above grade.

"Certainly, the cost of the new structure is significant, but this is a one-time opportunity to help alleviate the parking demand, and make a forward-thinking capital investment in the future and continued success of our community and business district," the letter states.

Others made their case in person. Mike Meffert, a real estate agent who owns a building on California Avenue, said he has seen tenants over the years depart from California Avenue because of insufficient parking. Whether the council chooses to build up or down, the goal should be more spaces, he said.

"It's the capacity of parking spaces that we're looking for -- not retail and not nice arcades," Meffert said.

For many, the problem is becoming particularly urgent with the impending rollout of the Residential Preferential Parking program in Evergreen Park, the neighborhood next to California Avenue. Once the program takes effect later this month, employees without parking permits will no longer be able to park on residential streets for longer than two hours. Jennifer Allen, co-owner of PIP Printing, was one of several speakers who urged the council on Monday to pursue a more comprehensive solution to help businesses grapple with the worsening parking problem.

"We business owners have been given slight consideration as to how a lack of parking affects us and, ultimately, our community when businesses leave," Allen said. "Because we will leave."

The Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce also weighed in in support of the larger parking facility. Chamber CEO Judy Kleinberg encouraged the city to pursue the largest parking capacity possible on the Sherman Avenue site and argued that parking should not be sacrificed for things like retail or an arcade. The garage, she argued in a letter, should have two underground levels of parking in a design that not only would go further in addressing California Avenue's biggest problem, but that would also help the city with the bottom line.

"The added permit parking on the subfloors would provide a steady revenue stream for garage maintenance, as well as other City needs," Kleinberg wrote. "This is a far more sustainable strategy to obtain City revenue than a retail space that many believe would not be successful in this location while wasting precious parking space and at the same time requiring over a dozen parking spaces for its own use."

While the vast majority called for maximum parking, not everyone felt that way. Irene Au, a resident of Evergreen Park, encouraged the council to think about design, aesthetics and "quality of life" in moving ahead with the new facility. The garage, she argued, should include things like retail and pedestrian-friendly design.

"More parking spaces in the garage at the expense of ground floor retail and pedestrian-friendly design are not going to solve the parking issue -- there will always be an imbalance between cars and available spaces even if you have 100 more spaces in the garage," Au wrote. "More parking will invite more traffic into the area and does not solve the systemic issue of transit in the area."

Several council members agreed that having some retail on the site would be a benefit to the district. Council members Karen Holman and Lydia Kou both supported exploring a design that would have a small retail component on the building's edge. Their proposal failed, however, to sway the rest of the council.

Despite some quibbles, the council overwhelmingly sided with the merchants and agreed that the new facility should focus on increasing parking capacity, even if it means a higher cost, no retail and fewer pedestrian-oriented design elements. The biggest disagreement was over whether the new facility should have five above-ground stories and one basement level or four stories and two basement levels.

Each had its own benefits and drawbacks. While the four-story option would have a lower visual impact, its $34.8-million price tag is roughly $4 million more than the five-story option because of the high cost of digging basements. However, at 36 feet, this option would be about 11 feet shorter than the five-story version.

Those who supported the four-story garage argued that it's worth spending the extra money to ensure the building won't tower over other structures in California Avenue.

Those who favored the five-story facility pointed to the lower price tag.

Vice Mayor Liz Kniss, who was in the latter camp, called the five-story garage a "middle of the road" alternative in terms of cost (the estimates for the different design ranged from $26.2 million to $34.8 million). She called it a "good compromise solution."

"Even though I'm hearing that these buildings may loom, this is in an area where many buildings are above 40 feet," Kniss said, alluding to the nearby Santa Clara County Courthouse, which is 65 feet, and the new Visa building, which is 45 feet.

Her proposal faltered by a 3-6 vote, with only council members Greg Tanaka and Cory Wolbach joining her. The entire council then voted to support the four-story design with two basement levels, an option that was championed by Mayor Greg Scharff and Councilman Eric Filseth.

"I think we ought to stretch and dig deeper," Filseth said. "Spending an extra $4 million to keep it lower so it doesn't loom over Antonio's Nuthouse -- I think in the long run we'll find that's money we've spent well."


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38 people like this
Posted by It's Just More Corporate Greed
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 4, 2017 at 6:13 am

One has to laugh: all these companies are of course super happy for lots more parking -- because they're not being asked to pay a penny for it. The parking facility will instead be paid for by city funds -- that is, money that could serve more general needs like parks and services for the disabled rather than businesses that already pocketed millions by not building sufficient parking for their employees and customers. Just look at the high tech companies around Cal Ave with programmers sitting shoulder to shoulder, many in buildings without no parking whatsoever.

Our Council meetings are like a burlesque show of massive corporate greed.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2017 at 7:27 am

There is no mention of what will happen in the interim.

Making some 30 minute parking will take no time at all to start, but will help many people do errands around town efficiently and prevent circling for elusive spots.

Putting up high tech signs and invoking some parking apps to enable to find elusive parking spots will also prevent circling for elusive spots.

Efficient aids to parking make sense. How much of the traffic in the Cal Ave is just circling looking for spots?

When will residents start renting out their driveways as is done in the UK?

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2017 at 7:35 am

Here's a New York solution about residents renting driveways to local workers. Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2017 at 7:38 am

The above link didn't work. Try googling driveway rental app and find several articles on the subject.

7 people like this
Posted by Hamilton
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 4, 2017 at 8:10 am

I'd like to thank the city council for approving the best option for this project that helps retail customers, retail workers, local office workers and residents. I appreciate the council's willingness to spend a bit extra to keep the height more consistent with its surroundings. Let's keep in mind retail is struggling and sales tax is a significant portion of the city's revenue. I do worry that having the RPP in place while the garage is being built and 300+ spaces are offline is too much strain on the merchants. I'd hate to lose some of the wonderful merchants we have rather than suffering temporary inconvenience via the RPP. Note, I am a strong supporter of the RPP and the council could offer to cap the RPP thereafter in exchange.

Also, this garage should be viewed as in addition to TDM and other longer term measures such as possible paid parking for all day parkers that suppress SOV demand.

Lastly, while it seemed quite clear to me that this particular site was not the right one to try a mechanical garage, I would suggest a more in-depth evaluation of that for University Ave Lot D parking garage. Unlike Cal Ave, it will not be the primary parking solution so if it goes "offline" it will have much less impact and there is a massive parking deficit downtown so any extra spaces that can be squeezed out for all day parkers would be huge.

Thanks again

15 people like this
Posted by Oh karen
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 4, 2017 at 9:40 am

As usual, holman tried to have the vote postponed according to the daily post. We need more time she said. Like with the bike bridge she supported. Maybe we should have a design contest.

39 people like this
Posted by Who Pays
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2017 at 9:43 am

Who is paying for this? This is $35 million for an incremental 315 parking spaces. That's more than $110,000 per space. Is it the taxpayers? I'm happy to provide parking for small retail, but, not for VC funded start-ups and large companies like Visa.

18 people like this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Portola Valley
on Apr 4, 2017 at 10:07 am

Used to have tons of parking before the Remodel and lane reduction

7 people like this
Posted by Zee Kay
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 4, 2017 at 10:17 am

I m so thankful to the city for approving this proposal. Businesses on Cal Ave. are considering moving out because all the parking spots get taken by employees of Visa and other companies. Rents are super high and if customers are unable to find parking, sales cannot support the high rents and wages. Thank you for listening to the merchants on Cal Ave. it will help us serve the community better.

4 people like this
Posted by margaret p.
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2017 at 10:19 am

We certainly need more parking spaces on CA ave. If the spaces are to be used for employees of businesses in the area, good. That will leave some spaces for customers. Employees in the area are not the only people to be considered in this project. I don't go over there anymore because I cannot find a parking space so they lose my business!xP

9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2017 at 10:21 am

Who pays for this parking lot? Retailers? Tech employers? Or does the city's general fund (ie our tax dollars) pay for it?

Will this parking lot be free to all comers? Will there be parking meters? Or is it for annual permit holders only? Will these permits cover the cost of the construction (over $100,000 per parking space)?

40 people like this
Posted by Bill Conlon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2017 at 11:19 am

I patronize many stores and restaurants on California Avenue, and worked there for many years. The parking shortage was always most severe at lunch time, when people drove in from the Stanford Research Park. But the two existing parking lots and two parking garages plus street parking, plus the Caltrain lot, plus some private lots (Mollie Stone's) plus the county government lots have handled the retail on the avenue for decades.

So this is really about enabling developers to justify high rents for more buildings in the district. 315 more parking spots means 315 or more employees in surrounding buildings, which means more traffic and congestion on the surrounding streets, which are already extensively backed up. This means more pollution and longer commutes. I would really like to see an Environmental Impact Report.

And the cost is both outrageous, and very likely optimistic, based on past practice. The huge pit will require extensive and costly dewatering, which will undermine the underground infrastructure and foundations of the old buildings on California Avenue, necessitating their demolition and replacement. But that's the point isn't it?

19 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 4, 2017 at 11:40 am

From City of Palo Alto Municipal code:

(6) "Administrative office services" means offices and service facilities performing headquarters, regional, or other level management and administrative services for firms and institutions.

"Administrative office services" are not permitted in CN or CC zones. The California ave business area is mostly cc zones.
The visa building and many software firms that have been allowed to operate illegally in the area (often with higher densities of employees) have contributed significantly to the parking shortage.

The practice of ignoring the land use laws of the city by staff and former Councils has lead to the parking shortage problem for the local serving businesses and their patrons.

The local serving businesses and the residents should be working together demanding that no further such violations are allowed, and that the legal businesses and their patrons have a preferred status for receiving parking permits.

Maybe we have no taste for booting out existing Illegal uses out, but we should certainly not allow any more.

Is it fair that employees of Non-local serving (illegal ) businesses are allowed to purchase parking permits that turn neighborhoods into office park parking lots and parking structures paid for by the residents and the legal businesses that have traditionally occupied theCal ave business area?

27 people like this
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 4, 2017 at 11:44 am

It seems when it comes to pleasing businesses, the City will spend the money, but when it comes to pleasing residents, the City won't spend the money.

8 people like this
Posted by EllenU85
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 4, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Uber, Lyft and GoGrandparent can bring customers to shop on California and University Avenues - all you need is the number address and a phone - smart enough - to find you and drop you off where you want to go. You can go solo or share a trip and cost with neighbors. No parking required - call again when ready to go home,

Every shop or restaurant with a web site giving directions to customers needs a map and address, and every customer needs a smart enough mobile phone.

23 people like this
Posted by Pick your poison more carefully.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2017 at 12:36 pm

We can't afford to support housing, or improve sidewalks and bike routes, or improve parks--but we spend $4 million to store CARS which will encourage more people DRIVE, generating more TRAFFIC which we say we hate.

Hmmm. What's wrong with this picture?

I live on the southern border of Palo Alto. It takes me 15 minutes to bike to Cal Ave at a very leisurely pace. I don't break a sweat because it is a flat, shady bike route. It is also very safe because most of the route is a bike boulevard. People are DRIVING to Cal Ave. from the research park? How about having the research park provide some shuttle transport for their in-town lunch meetings?

14 people like this
Posted by Still under the bus
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 4, 2017 at 12:37 pm

How can you protect the smaller businesses from losing so much trade and traffic during a lengthy construction project that they are forced to close? The corporate businesses, who obviously exert enormous influence, will survive, but what about the smaller shops and restaurants? I don't believe VISA needs our tax dollars to help them with a parking problem while everyone else is driven out. Sounds like something Trump would dream up.

31 people like this
Posted by Eric Filseth
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 4, 2017 at 1:45 pm

I think what several people above are asking is: are residents about to pay tens of millions of dollars for a big parking structure whose benefits will mostly accrue to businesses? My best belief is that the most direct answer is no; but the broader one is to a considerable extent yes.

The garage itself is part of the 2014 Infrastructure Plan. The largest component of the Plan financing comes from increases in Hotel taxes. Since most hotel business in Palo Alto comes from visitors to businesses and Stanford, not to private citizens, the hotel tax is largely a business tax. So a direct view is the garage will be funded heavily by businesses, not residents.

The indirect picture is less clear. A lot of Plan funding also comes from the Stanford Development Fund, which was basically an impact-offset agreement over the Med Center expansion. Since those impacts – traffic and housing, for example – tend to fall on residents, the Development Fund is arguably resident money. Still, the Infrastructure Plan also includes things like the Police building; police expenditures support both residents and businesses. The point is that unwinding exactly who paid for what is complicated. Yet it seems likely that residents are picking up some part of the garage bill, not to mention the intangible of a massive block-long building right off the low-rise ambience of Cal Ave.

Does that mean the City erred last night? In my view, the City’s real error is much older: not responding to changing long-term employment trends. Even today the City allows construction such as 385 Sherman (“the Visa building”) that brings in more parking demand than it supplies; yet City code says it’s fully parked. Cal Ave office space once used by CPA’s and attorneys is now occupied by tech startups with many more employees, but no more parking. The difference between Code and reality spilled over into the nearby residential neighborhoods, which the City has now acted to protect – but only once the problem was acute, and residents organized and vocal.

This left the City with a Hobson’s Choice: either spend $30M+ on a new parking garage, or else watch the parking crunch continue to help drive out longtime retail and personal services such as dentistry, which most residents value highly. Either way, residents pay. Last night the Council chose the former evil, which we viewed as the lesser one.

The new capacity should roughly equal the number of cars displaced from the neighborhoods by the RPPP. In principle that should bring us back to some level of parity between demand and supply.

Yet this balance will be temporary, if we don’t go back and fix the underlying problem – our codes and policies. We can’t just tell ourselves on the one hand that it’s a transit district and nobody will drive cars, and on the other that we’re losing our community-serving businesses and must build more parking lots. If our codes and policies don’t truly tie development and growth to their full impacts on the community – including parking – then it’s only a matter of time until we'll have to bail ourselves out again.

22 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 4, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Merchants and small businesses who serve the public should be given first choice for low-cost parking permits in the garages around Cal Ave. Their employees serve us in the shops, stock the shelves, do the dishwashing, cook the food, wait on us at tables, make our coffee, provide health and dental care, mental health professionals, wash and cut our hair, do our nails, sell us insurance, provide printing services, make bagels, bake fresh breeds, cakes, and pastries, groom our dogs, provide framing services and art supplies, do our taxes, non-profits, dry cleaners, etc. etc.

The reality is that few of these types of employees can afford to live anywhere near close enough to bike or walk to work in Palo Alto. Public transport is not affordable for low income workers, even if they do happen to live near a train or bus stop. And if they have children to drop off, pick up, family errands on their way home, they need their cars. While council members extol the virtues of walking, biking, public transport, and ride sharing as ways to solve the parking problem, many of these employees work random shifts, which can change from week to week, and are scattered all over the bay area, making ride sharing impractical for many if not most.

Unfortunately for residents, California Avenue has become the sacrificial calf designated for continued high density office development. For years council has prioritized and enabled office development while not prioritizing a thriving retail and services that the public can patronize. That bring in, or used to bring in, badly needed tax dollars.

In addition, I’ve been amazed that the council has so little valued the dental offices and other health related services we use along El Camino that they are not being given priority parking permits in Evergreen Park.

14 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 4, 2017 at 2:36 pm

So the Planning Department has been accepting and, sometimes with the council involved as well, approving buildings which are not in the municipal code for California Avenue? Along with looking the other way in the University Avenue area and allowing landlords to sign long term lease that have turned it into a virtual office park for a few large corporations. Time to grandfather in whatever has already occurred, at least for a period of time, and instruct staff to comply with Palo Alto's municipal code.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2017 at 3:12 pm

It doesn't help how many "new" parking spaces there will be in the future. The problem is today when the spaces that might be there can't be found.

How many cars are driving around in circles at lunch time looking for parking spaces when all they need is to do a 10 minute errand? How can the spaces that are available be found when there is no technology to enable them to be found.

This is Silicon Valley. We have invented technology for almost everything. Unfortunately, very little of it is used by the City of Palo Alto to help us park - or do other simple tasks!

5 people like this
Posted by Basement? Don't Tell The Groundwater Patrol
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 4, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Uh Oh!

This parking structure will have a basement!

Oh my! That means de-watering will be necessary!

The De-Watering Patrol will need to activate with their buckets and pitchforks to complain about dying trees, collapsing homes, drying up the bay, infertility, children with average SAT scores, and the general reduction of civilisation to rubble.

Just saying, eliminating basements was last week's obsession.

This week obsession appears to be that we can't do without basements.

Its all very amusing.

7 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 4, 2017 at 3:51 pm

During council discussion last night it was mentioned that during construction of the two story garage beneath the new VISA building which is just across the street, groundwater was not present. Since California Avenue is about 35' or more above the level of the bay perhaps groundwater will not be an issue. When the new College Centre (old JJ&F) parking basement was being constructed I don't remember seeing any groundwater being pumped out.

2 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 4, 2017 at 4:36 pm

I've built two basements in Palo Alto, and neither required dewatering. It all depends on the conditions exactly where you're building.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 4, 2017 at 6:35 pm

The job site is in the area that has the Varian toxic plume? No? Where is the dirt going to be hauled off to? Button Willow?

I wonder what Bob Moss, Bob Wenzlau,Enid Pearson and crew, feel about it?

5 people like this
Posted by Any name I wish
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 4, 2017 at 7:22 pm

Go check out the site at 2555 Park Blvd. They are just starting to dig a 20-foot deep garage. The same contractor dug out the huge pit for the Visa building right beside this proposed garage. From what I heard, the stuff wasn't toxic at all.

@anon & Margaret Heath,
Administrative Offices aren't allowed in CC(2), but General Offices are. Read the code definitions and try to figure out which ones don't qualify. Software companies totally fit the General Office definition.

6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 4, 2017 at 8:02 pm

The Terradex groundwater map (Wenzlau et al, April 2016) indicates depth to water is marginally greater than 20 feet, and more than a block outside the purported contamination plume. Apparently the Visa building had no problem.

7 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 5, 2017 at 1:51 am

Under any reasonable analysis, a large new garage is sorely needed and City Council did the right thing in approving the largest one possible.

If in some future reality, excess parking develops, other parking lots/garages can be redeveloped.

Marguerite and Caltrain show that with the right combination of carrots and sticks, people will flock to transit.

Palo Alto's council has lived in such fear of the residentialists they have been using wet noodles in developing transit and transportation plans. Effective carrots and sticks work much better in moving peoiple out of cars.

4 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 5, 2017 at 9:37 am

From the municiopal code:

(61) “General business office” means a use principally providing services to individuals, firms, or other entities, including but not limited to real estate, insurance, property management, title companies, investment, personnel, travel, and similar services.

the visa building use does not qualify R & D would not

5 people like this
Posted by Casa de Cerveza
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 5, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Casa de Cerveza is a registered user.

In addition to additional automobile parking, city planners should increase parking spaces for other wheeled vehicles, such as mopeds, scooters, and bicycles. Electric scooters are becoming popular in San Francisco and Vancouver. Start-ups Scoot (San Francisco) and Loop (Vancouver) offer scooter network sharing services in those and other communities. These are ideal for visitors who may not require automobiles. The City of Palo Alto is already considering a contract with bike-share company Social Bicycles (SoBi) to establish 35 stations, each equipped with 10 "smart bikes." Use of more bicycles, scooters, and mopeds can reduce the number of privately owned vehicles, reduce congestion, emissions and increase the quality of life.

4 people like this
Posted by biker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 6, 2017 at 11:17 am

This Council ACTION to support multi-million dollar expenditures for car drivers is in direct opposition to its TALK of support for bikers and walkers. When will the City actually walk its sustainability talk? Actions speak louder than words. Another way the Council encourages cars is to provide City employees free parking.

10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 6, 2017 at 3:07 pm

The excrutiatingly long $7,000,000 "revitalization" of Cal Ave killed a lot of retailers and restaurants and the city kicked in a few hundred dollars for the "damages" caused to them.

Yet again the city's chosen the least retail-friendly and most expensive garage option. [Portion removed.]

6 people like this
Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:36 am

Why is the city paying for this? Developers and businesses causing the problem should be paying.

6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2017 at 12:21 pm

I agree that developers should be paying for this. I don't think businesses like dentists and other small businesses that serve us like tax accountants as they will just pass the charges on to us as customers. Additionally, dentists have often been there for decades and when they started out there wasn't a parking problem. They didn't make the problem but they are suffering from it. Any business that is in the service industry should be attracted to these business areas for our use. We don't want them disappearing.

Like this comment
Posted by Bikermom
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 7, 2017 at 7:00 pm

If you build it...they will come. Lots of them....all them in cars to clog our streets and ruin our air. Think about it.

10 people like this
Posted by Pat Burt
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 7, 2017 at 7:38 pm

The ill fated Jay Paul proposed project on Park Blvd three years ago analyzed the peak hour road capacity in the Cal Ave area and concluded that there was very little additional capacity to accommodate more cars.
Since then, those conditions have only worsened as anyone who visits Cal Ave can testify. That is why last year the Council majority supported expanding the Transportation Management Association (TMA) to the Cal Ave area. The practical reality is that new development there must be accompanied by a full scale program to reduce car trips through greater use of trains and buses, car pool apps, expanded biking and other proven measures. These measures, if fully funded through a Business License Tax or other means, can aid implementation of RPP in the neighborhoods and help commuters while reducing congestion, freeing up parking for patrons and long term freeing up some surface lots in the outlying areas for affordable housing.
The recent Council discussions of RPP and this expanded, very expensive city funded parking garage have been largely silent on an actual solution to the problem. Last year, the Business License Tax devoted to local transportation was put off because the developer and business community asserted more time was needed to fully vet a funding mechanism and how it would be best used and to not compete on the 2016 ballot with Measure B for countywide transportation funding. In the fall, the Council committed to creating a citizens advisory committee to come up with funding recommendations well before the 2018 ballot. This process needs to start sooner rather than later if we are to avoid real gridlock in this area. The problem won't solve itself and the city spending tens of millions on a very large garage will only compound congestion unless trip reduction goes hand in hand.

10 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2017 at 11:53 pm

The developers and their friends on the city council are working to a formula. A formula that has proven to be very lucrative. It is the same formula they used to develop the University Avenue commercial district.

The formula has exhausted the unexploited resources downtown but is finding fertile ground to metastasize in the California Avenue area.

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