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'Stanford Dish' parking plan is better but still has problems, residents say

Original post made on Sep 15, 2013

A plan to add trails that would connect to the famed "Stanford Dish" hill is much improved since last spring, but there are still serious problems with roadside parking along Stanford Avenue, area residents told Stanford University officials Thursday night, Sept. 12.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, September 15, 2013, 9:22 PM

Comments (40)

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2013 at 9:43 pm

It would be helpful if Stanford or Palo Alto police actually issued parking tickets for all the illegal parked cars on Stanford.

It used to be legal to park on Junipero Serra near the North Entrance of the Dish Run. Why not allow parking there too?

Posted by Stanford neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I have been wondering why Stanford doesn't build a parking structure at the southwest corner of Page Mill and Junipero Serra. The natural landscape there is not particularly gorgeous (so not a huge loss aesthetically) and it's close to the Stanford Ave gate for the dish. People will balk at parking over on Coyote Hill because it's an annoyingly long walk from there to the dish. It seems like it would just be easy to put a lot by the Page Mill intersection.

Posted by Old Page Mill Trail
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 15, 2013 at 10:37 pm

What the community has wanted all along is a trail along Old Page Mill Road directly to the Arastradero Preserve. The current trail to nowhere the dead ends in the middle of a horse pasture is essentially useless and you never see anyone using it. Come on Stanford, we have been saying this for more than 10 years. Haven't you heard? I thought Stanford people were supposed to be smart.

Posted by where are the toilets
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 15, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Are there plans for any toilets along the proposed Stanford Ave Trail or at the Stanford Dish? I am not young any more and can barely make it around the dish trail without a toilet stop. No way that I can walk from El Camino to the dish and around the loop and back without at least one toilet stop. What are the plans for toilets around this route? These trails aren't in the middle of a forest where we can just use the bushes.

Posted by Mid-town resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2013 at 10:21 am

Enough with all the development already... we don't need more or different parking... things are fine as they are (when the gas line works are done). The limited parking is natural way to control crowds.

Posted by Stanford resident
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 16, 2013 at 10:25 am

Maybe the Dish should only be open to Stanford residents like, um, what's that place where only Palo Alto residents walk... Foothill? Even though I pay my taxes and vote in PA elections, I can't use Foothill. (I've been turned back at the entrance.)

Posted by Mid-town resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2013 at 10:33 am

Stanford residents should definitely have access to Foothill Park. That's just silly, petty bureaucracy.. I hope the City Council is monitoring these chats and fixes this quickly... sounds to me like it's just small-minded thinking at the gate box.

Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 16, 2013 at 10:49 am

Little known secret: Stanford residents can use Foothill Park if they use the Arastradero entrance. Just follow the Stanford trail to Arastradero Preserve and continue into Foothill.

Oh wait, Stanford never built the promised trail to Arastradero. Sorry.

Posted by Tired of the Bans
a resident of another community
on Sep 16, 2013 at 11:20 am

THE DISH USED TO BE PUBLIC AND NEEDS TO STAY THAT WAY. I'm thrilled at having ANOTHER parking ban inconvenience everybody and the way they have been living for decades. Is it really that difficult to create a second lane and additional parking along Junipero Serra between Campus Drive East and Stanford Ave? Really?

List of bans:

Use of plastic bags (seriously?)
Happy Meal toys
Use of water
Use of air conditioning
Burning of log in fire place

Posted by Steve
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 16, 2013 at 11:25 am

I believe if you walk or bike into Foothills park, they don't check if you are a resident or not. This is definitely true for the Arastradero entrance.

Stanford should just ban parking along Stanford ave. It definitely is a hazard. Stanford should relocate the dish entry over to Coyote Hill Road.

Posted by barron parker
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 16, 2013 at 11:28 am

Over the past 20 years, Stanford has consistently increased the difficulty of access to the loop. As part of this campaign, 10 years ago they banned dogs, citing erosion. Erosion by little dog feet wasn't the issue -- they banned dogs to get reduce community use by getting rid of the dog walkers.

There are 3 entrances to the loop from Junipero Serra. People used to park near all three entrances, but Stanford has outlawed parking at two of them, and the only remaining parking is along Stanford Ave. That's a good part of the reason that Stanford Ave is now so crowded.

And now Stanford wants to remove 33 of those remaining 60 parking spaces. Stanford says, "No problem, you can park on Coyote Hill Rd." Who are they kidding? It's a mile from Coyote Hill to Stanford Ave -- nobody is going to add 2 miles of walking along Jun. Serra to their 4 mile dish loop -- that's absurd.

This is yet another piece of bad behavior by Stanford toward people in the community who want to walk in the hills.

Posted by Walker
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Sep 16, 2013 at 11:29 am

Has anyone been hurt or killed on Stanford Ave. as a result of people parking there? NO.

Obviously the dish is a popular place, so instead of banning parking along Stanford Ave., make more parking for more people to enjoy the trail.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

I have lived in Palo Alto for a long time and have never gone to the Dish, no particular reason, just I got into the habit of walking at Arastradero Park and Foothill Park. Both have parking lots, both have restrooms. Both have lovely hiking and views, both have natural trails and nature. If you are a Palo Alto resident it is only a short drive further to each of these.

Posted by Julia
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Sep 16, 2013 at 11:46 am

I go to the dish as often as I can. It is easy to find parking before 7, but after that, it can be difficult. I don't know how eliminating parking spaces will help at all. And it would be good to add some accessible parking near the other gates. I hope we keep the existing parking spaces as they are for now. We need them. I would not walk a half mile to go to walk the dish. And it is the closest hill walk there is to Palo Alto....

Posted by Love to hike
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2013 at 12:13 pm

I go hiking several times a week. I go to the Dish about once a year, and each time I am reminded why I don't hike there. Besides the parking being a problem, the loop is a boring 4 mile asphalt loop. I prefer to drive a few extra minutes up Page Mill Rd to Foothills Park, which is one of the most beautiful parks to hike in, in this area. There are many trails to choose from, going through a variety of habitats. There's a lake, and there are restrooms. There's more wildlife, if that appeals to you. I've never understood the fuss over the Dish when, for Palo Alto residents at least, there are better alternatives just a few minutes away (Arastradero is preferable to the Dish too).

Posted by DC
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 16, 2013 at 12:27 pm

Agree w/ "Stanford resident": a parking area on Page Mill and Junipero Serra, surrounded by trees perhaps to make it less....intrusive on the landscape, is a fine idea. Perfect.

For those who make remarks re "walking to one's walk..." people are busy. Who are you to tell them they need to take less time for enjoying their walk by taking precious time getting thru perhaps less than lovely surroundings to begin that walk?

The trails I've seen @ Foothill are not paved. Easier for some of us, and lower slip/fall risk. And - as a preemptive strike -please do not be so arrogant/snide as to tell me I need to not walk if I cannot walk on dirt trails. I do. Just not at the brisk pace needed for health. Foothills is beautiful and magnificent. Smells like heaven.

Thanks for the info re additional entrances that I was not aware of for The Dish.

Posted by just sayin'
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I walk at the Dish during the week, because I don't have time to drive all the way to Arastradero or Foothill. Then, I drive to the Dish because I am in Midtown and I don't have the time to walk or bike to the Dish. The Dish is good exercise with good views even though it's not the most pleasant hike per se.

Please, don't make it harder to park there. We respect all the rules, including not doing U-turns on Stanford. Maybe you should do an outreach program about the rules instead of restricting parking.

Posted by John
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 16, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Whatever happened to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it?"
The dish is fine as is, and so is the parking. Removing or moving 60% of the spots creates a new problem. I used to live in College Terrace and could easily run or ride my bike to the dish and on the trail. Then came the fence and the Guard booths. What are they guarding anyway? Hey Stanford, what are you afraid of? Nobody seems to have a problem with 50,000 football fans in Palo Alto, so why can't you deal with a few hundred people who enjoy the Dish?

Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 16, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Palo alto wants those 50k fans spending money in town. But if you are unhappy maybe we can make arrangements to spend their money elsewhere
Check out why the fence and the booth. It is all available. Just remember the dish area is private property and Stanford is not obligated to let anyone in. Plus palo alto likes to encourage walking and biking so removing those spots is a good start.
When will Stanford residents be allowed in to foothill park?

Posted by Welchers
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 16, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Face it, Stanford is never going to fulfill its obligations to build adequate, safe trails under the various agreements.

Posted by Just the facts
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2013 at 7:46 am

Stanford land is it's endowment (originally to fund free higher education for California children). It is now mostly a huge research institution, medical facility and a property management company overseen by Larry Horton. I would like to see it be ethically responsive to our community by keeping it's promise to have a connecting trail to Arastradero and better parking. But i have learned not to hold my breath. The Dish keeps our community healthy - out of hospitals - and it's convenient. But being World Class is top priority perhaps.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2013 at 12:26 pm

"Just the Facts" isn't just the facts.

#1: Larry Horton, as Senior Associate Vice President and Director of Government and Community Relations, oversees just that....not the overall campus or it's properties. Horton is a SPOKESPERSON. And, he finally gets to retire...congrats Larry for a heroic job dealing with this acrimonious community.

"Just the Facts" throws around the phrase "Ethically responsive to our community" This space isn't big enough to list the services that Stanford provides to the community. Here's a few: Concerts, events, courses, free museums and healthcare -- all open to the general public. Stanford's services make Palo Alto different from Burlingame, for example.

The City of Palo Alto has the most parks per population of any California town -- but always wants more land/access from Stanford. One writer here even demands Stanford put bathrooms along the Dish trail! Talk about entitlement.

Stanford is private property, just like your house or any business. Maybe I'd like a trail through your backyard because there is a nice view from the yard, but I don't have the chutzpah to demand it. (Oh yes...please put a bathroom along the path through your yard for me).

Actually, I think it would be nice to just have public access to Palo Alto's RESTRICTED CITY PARK in the hills. A public park that is not open to the public. What a concept. Perhaps someone should sue over that one.

Stanford is a private entity, so it's entirely within their rights to limit access to the Dish to only it's own Stanford students and residents.

For now, Palo Alto residents should continue to hold their breath about their unreasonable demands for the Arastradero issue -- and use their own toilet before walking the Dish.

Posted by Stanford Resident
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Parking on Stanford avenue is a hazard, the magnitude of which only those who live in that area can truly understand. The constant U turns in the middle of the road, blocking traffic while waiting for a spot, which may or may not ever materialize, the stollers sitting in the road while moms 'stretch' and their baby sits in harms way. I could go on and on. People are just plain rude and thoughtless when in pursuit of the coveted parking place. Parking on Stanford avenue is one of the worst parking 'solutions' I have ever seen, anywhere, and frankly, I am appalled that all the bright minds of Stanford and Palo Alto have not been able to come up with something better by now.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2013 at 2:04 pm

The bright minds of Stanford keep hoping users of the Dish will act like good citizens.

But, it would be a great idea for Stanford to add meters for street parking at the Dish, + give parking tickets to expired meters. They should also give traffic tickets to those who block the street or make illegal U turns before someone gets hurt.

Charging for access to the Dish is a good idea too. The funds will control abuse of the area and help maintain the area.

But these -- and any -- solutions may be more trouble than they're worth to Stanford. Better to just limit the Stanford land to Stanford students and personnel.

Posted by resident of Stanford
a resident of Woodside
on Sep 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Yes, there would be big money to be made by having a police presence as a constant on Stanford Avenue during daylight hours. It would pay their salary plus generate significant revenue. Tickets for U turns, blocking traffic, illegal parking, speeding (gotta grab that spot before the SUV making the U turn in the middle of the road gets to it!). I suspect police presence would make everyone mind their manners and become better citizens in the process.

Posted by just sayin'
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 17, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Maybe it's time to hold Stanford to the letter of the law when it comes to construction on university land and stop granting the university exemption after exemption when it wants to build more than theoretically allowed. Then they can shut down the Dish and keep it for themselves.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 17, 2013 at 7:47 pm

just sayin
Stanford hasn't violated the construction agreement -- which was specified after an excruciating process with PA. Don't know where you got that. Palo Alto, on the other hand, has tried to stop projects that were specifically contained in that negotiated agreement.

This is why Larry Horton deserves a medal.

Posted by Nick
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I have been walking on the dish before i could talk.

Long as i can remember my father and I parked the chevy coupe under the pepper trees on stanford ave. The dish should always remain public and free of harassment from authority and new citizens coming to settle in.

Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Nick said "The dish should always remain public" but it has NEVER been public. You and your father were trespassing on private property, but Stanford chose to allow it. Now they are stricter about when and where they allow people on their property, which is their prerogative.

Posted by Patricia Chang
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 19, 2013 at 9:25 am

I live on Stanford campus near the dish. My complaints.
The traffic hazard on Stanford gets progressively worse. People with children and strollers have taken over the bike lanes, bikers have been doored going down the bike lane, people use the nearby trees and bushes (behind my house where I regularly walk) as their toilets and even leave their toilet paper, people at 6am who park their cars, chat loudly and use their door locks that make a very distinct beep can be heard directly by people whose houses back onto Stanford ave especially in warm weather when their windows are open, people who cause backups in traffic all the way down Junipero Serra while they wait for parking, or who make illegal u-turns, people who won't use the path on the south side of the street and insist on walking in the street on the north side of Stanford Ave. People who block the corners so drivers can't turn right onto Junipero Serra, or onto Stanford. The gate was put up to protect endangered wildlife on the dish, the road was paved because it used to be dirt tracks that became rocky gullies where it was easy to twist an ankle. Ironically if they had kept it that way fewer people would use the dish and we wouldn't have these conversations.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2013 at 11:06 am

SU should charge for parking and for the use of the Dish path. That would ease the congestion and the mess.

The Dish is Stanford's property, but many outside public users of the property have abused Stanford's free access to it.

Palo Alto citizens would not tolerate the same conditions on their private property.

a resident of Stanford
on Sep 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm





Posted by Leland S
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 19, 2013 at 8:08 pm

please stay off my property and go tramp around in the berkeley hills! thank you.

Posted by commuter
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 20, 2013 at 12:58 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Drives to workout, Hikes to McD's
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 20, 2013 at 6:24 am

Fitness buffs: If you ride your bike and don't drive your car, you may find that you don't need to walk through the "Hiking Mall" to get a workout in. Its HILARIOUS to see people having issues with not being able to DRIVE to their work out. No wonder we're obese as a nation.

Posted by John
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 20, 2013 at 10:18 am

I'm a campus resident who lives a few yards off Stanford Ave. where all this discussion is centered. Personally, I LIKE that so many people use the dish and don't mind at all the parking as it currently stands. The "cost" to me of occasionally having to pause 3 seconds while someone backs into a spot is incredibly small compared to the "benefit" of their being able to enjoy a great walking space, wherever they are coming from. Yes, there's some safety risk for the parkers but they're grown-ups who can make that choice for themselves. Life doesn't have to be risk-free and I suspect the desire to reduce the parking on Stanford Ave. is more about "control" than "safety." Let's leave it as it is and all just enjoy other peoples' enjoyment...

Posted by Tired of your judgment
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 25, 2013 at 11:20 am

Hey, Drives to McD's...

What a snarky, judgmental, and small minded person you seem to be. How is driving to the Dish any different than driving to the gym--or do you ridicule those people too? My guess is that the people who walk or run the Dish are in better shape because of doing so than many others. They are not necessarily fitness buffs, but as someone already noted, they may not have the time to walk two miles to the Dish to get their walk in. And it's none of your freaking business anyway how anyone gets to their chosen work-out spot. You are very fortunate if you live so close to your gym or local trails and don't have the time restrictions that others have which might prevent them from walking wherever they're going. As a two-year-old on You Tube put it, "Worry about yourself."

Posted by dishwalker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 17, 2013 at 8:16 am

Yes, traffic is a mess on Stanford Ave, especially around 9am. Most of the traffic is from people driving up and down, making u-turns, or just waiting on the road for a spot. This is because there is already not enough parking. So to solve this problem.... let's take away more parking!

I have been that person circling back and forth. If I could just pull into a spot then 6 of my trips up and down Stanford Ave would have been avoided. Removing half the parking will just mean more people like me, circling even more. There is plenty of room for perpendicular parking which would allow more spaces, or like others have suggested there is plenty of room for parking lots in the vicinity. People will continue to come to the dish. You can make them circle for 15-20 minutes or you can accommodate them with a spot and they will park and be done with it. Similarly, you can provide bathrooms for them, or you can force them to go in local bushes. Figure it out.

Posted by Maria K
a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 3, 2013 at 4:09 pm

It's wonderful to see so many people interested in getting exercise, walking with the family or friends, enjoying nature. This is the sort of thing that should be encouraged, not discouraged. Why not add more parking spaces--- diagonal parking on Stanford to fit more cars, or parking on Raimundo where there are no houses.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 3, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Because the residents of the neighborhood don't want any more cars and noise.

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