Palo Alto may soon increase the number of permits that could be purchased by workers who park on the streets of the Evergreen Park and Mayfield neighborhoods.
The proposal, which the council will consider in January, calls for raising the number of employee permits in two of the three zones of the recently established Residential Preferential Parking (RPP) program in the two neighborhoods near the California Avenue Business District (where the Palo Alto Weekly's office is located). The permits would only be sold to businesses outside the California Avenue Parking Assessment District, which makes up the core of the commercial neighborhood.
The proposal aims to accommodate the dental and medical offices near the northernmost zone of the permit area, known as Zone A. These businesses are farther away from California Avenue garages than most other companies in the business district. The new permits would not be available to companies within the assessment districts.
According to a new report from the Department of Planning and Community Environment, business owners in this area and adjacent Southgate neighborhood, where the city has also just established a new parking program, had approached the city because they were unable to buy permits for their employees.
The new Southgate program, which focuses almost exclusively on residents, currently includes only 10 employee permits. The much larger Evergreen-Mayfield program allocates 250 employee permits and spreads them out among three zones.
In Zone A, the northernmost zone, the number of employee permits would go up from 75 to 100. In Zone B, which includes much of Evergreen Park, the number of permits would go up from 50 to 66. In Zone C, which is just north of Page Mill Road, the number of employee permits would remain at the current level of 125.
The proposal to add employee permits came after staff had commissioned a parking-occupancy study that showed a relatively small percentage of employee parking permits are in use at any one time. The "show rate" for employees was found to be 32 percent, similar to the rate in the downtown parking program, according to staff.
As a result, many of the blocks in the permit area had relatively low occupancy rates. On-street parking spaces in the three zones, according to the report, ranged from 34 percent occupancy to 60 percent, depending on the time of day. In Zones A and B, the occupancy rate did not reach 60 percent at any time period, according to the survey. In Zone C, it only reached 60 percent during the noon to 2 p.m. period, which was the busiest time across the entire area under the RPP.
As part of the new proposal, staff is recommending setting a 60 percent occupancy rate as the desired standard for residential areas like Evergreen Park and Mayfield (in the downtown area, the standard is 85 percent).
In another change, staff is proposing the creation of a two-hour-parking zone on the east side of El Camino Real, between College Avenue and Park Boulevard, an area where there are currently no time restrictions. This would allow customers to use these spots, rather than having them occupied on a longer-term basis by area residents and employees.
In Southgate, where parking shortages are usually attributed not to employees but to Palo Alto High students, staff is also proposing an increase in employee permits, from 10 to 25. The suggestion was made after recent conversations with employers that led staff to believe the 10 permits are not adequate to address the demand.
The businesses have about 70 employees and 15 parking-lot spaces available, according to staff. Assuming a show-rate of 30 to 40 percent, the change would add about nine total employee vehicles parking in Southgate at any point in the day, according to staff.