LOTS OF OPPORTUNITY ... In a few months, a driver looking to park in a downtown Palo Alto garage might be approached by an attendant asking for car keys. The attendant would be part of the new valet program that the city is exploring to deal with downtown's famous parking shortage, a problem that area residents say has reached an unbearable level in recent years. The valet program is just like it sounds. When there are no spaces in the garage, the attendant would "stack" vehicles in the garage aisles and park them as spaces become available. If the council approves a staff recommendation, the city will seek out estimates for the new parking program this summer, with the goal of establishing a one-year pilot program. But that's just one piece of the puzzle. A more complicated topic, which the council will also consider Monday, is the prospect of building more downtown garages. In recent months, planning staff and consultants have analyzed five downtown parking lots that are being evaluated as possible sites for a new garage. The candidates are: Lot D, on Hamilton Avenue and Waverley Street; Lots E and G on Gilman Street; Lot O on Emerson and High streets; Lot P on High Street and Hamilton Avenue; and LOT UL on Urban Lane. According to a new staff report, some of these lots could accommodate a garage along with mixed-use developments, possibly with a private partner. On that note, the council is also scheduled to consider in June a proposal from developer Charles "Chop" Keenan, who is looking to build a commercial development at 135 Hamilton Ave. Keenan had offered to help the city build a garage on Lot P.
REAL TIME ... Palo Alto residents curious about that pile of gravel in the neighboring lot or the construction noise down the street have a new tool at their disposable. The city this week announced the latest installment in its "Open Data" effort — a record of Development Center permits that gets updated every day, on a nearly real-time basis. The latest dataset, according to the city's announcement, "is designed to engage developers and innovative thinkers to explore and share this valuable public data." City Manager James Keene said it "continues to propel our advances in open government. ... It is civic innovation like this that drives collaboration between City staff and developers, and fosters a deeper level of interaction with our community," Keene said. Jonathan Reichental, the city's chief information officer, noted that publishing data as soon as it's available has to be one of the city's goals. "Current data is exponentially more valuable than old, static data."
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