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Real Parking Issues

Original post made by Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2015

Now that all day parking near downtown has gotten much harder, it is time to address the parking needs of occasional all day parkers.

For some it might be a question of cost. For others it might be a question of ease. Undoubtedly, we have a parking situation which is complicated and only those "in the know" can navigate how to park more than 3 hours in Palo Alto.

1. We were promised signage of where to park and how many empty spaces are available and where. These signs have never appeared and no more talk about them. We need electronic signs helping visitors to find available parking before they enter a garage.

2. We need pay per hour machines in all garages and lots. No more secretive garages that have the machines. No more need to get to City Hall to pay for 4 hour parking.

3. We need to get rid of color codes zones in parking garages and on streets.

4. We need 30 minute parking outside retail in downtown, Cal Ave, Midtown and probably other places around town.

5. We need to get rid of $17 per day parking. Caltrain costs $5 and that means that people will park at Caltrain rather than a garage. Make the 4 hour plus charge affordable for those who want to lunch, shop and movie matinee.

6. We need to get out of town parking with speedy shuttles to downtown. This could be near 280 and near 101 at Bayshore. These parking shuttles need to be frequent and route designed to dissuade parking in neighborhoods and then use of shuttles.

7. We need to make parking efficient, simple and affordable.

There is obviously a need for 4+ hour parking that is affordable for low income workers, shoppers, moviegoers, seniors, etc. At present their needs are ignored. Telling them where they can't park doesn't help them. Making suitable parking available and affordable will.

Ultimately, I think the State should designate a free parking space at a place of employment a "benefit" not a "right".

I hope that those reading this will view this as a positive set of ideas and perhaps could add to them. I am one of those who have needed 4+ hour parking and found it difficult. I also anecdotally heard of seniors and visitors who have driven to downtown, found it impossible to park so have missed their movie or charitable volunteering session. Seniors do not like to have social activities in the evenings, much prefer them during the daylight hours. Seniors are amongst those who are being left out of the picture. They are unlikely able to ride a bike or walk any distance to get to either downtown or even to their nearest shuttle stop. Please think constructively and help people park rather than put up more restrictions.

Comments (9)

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:05 am

"Now that all day parking near downtown has gotten much harder, it is time to address the parking needs of occasional all day parkers."

The current situation is so badly conceived, planned, and executed it is either a joke or a structure cleverly designed to quickly collapse under its own weight.

All of your observations are true. There is no provision for the additional all-day parking needed to solve the basic mess, nor an adjustment of current failed practices in order to accommodate medium-term parking needs. What needs to be done is so obvious that one must suspect it is deliberately not being done, perhaps in anticipation of the parking program's planned collapse.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2015 at 6:16 pm

Seniors are feeling that Palo Alto is now a no go zone.

For those who want to have lunch and see a movie they are now going to Redwood City where they can park, choose between several restaurants, see a movie and then have their parking validated at the movie theater so their parking is free. With the first movie showing each day being discounted, they can afford to do this regularly.

Does anywhere in Palo Alto validate parking for seniors?

It is terrible that long time residents of Palo Alto are no longer able to afford an afternoon out in their own town!

Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Resident @ another Palo Alto Neighborhood,

What did you do before permit parking? Before the permit parking, there was no place for more than 2 hours because the residential parking spaces were all taken before the first movie show time by people who parked all day so that they could avoid the $5 parking fee that Caltrain charges.

Tell us where you parked before the permit parking system.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2015 at 8:02 am

Last time I needed to park for about 4 hours I parked off Alma near Paly south of Embarcadero - not sure of the names of all the streets and I have parked in that area as my go to area. I am nimble and active enough to be able to walk 15 minutes to get to my destination. Most seniors I know couldn't do that walk. Sometimes I have gotten a ride to downtown but that actually puts an extra vehicle on the road doing an extra trip as it involves two trips for my driver.

Unfortunately the seniors I know have not been able to do a movie and lunch in Palo Alto for sometime. They like Redwood City as they only park once to do both activities. They like doing brunch or early bird dinners so that they miss the busy meal times. They get validation of parking in the nearby garage.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2015 at 12:07 pm

Not to nitpick - but you're not going to find any movies playing during weekday lunch intervals in DTPA.

Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 25, 2015 at 12:58 pm

There is only one movie theater in downtown PA that has matinees. If you go to a 2 pm matinee, you have 3 hours of parking and then its 5pm when you can park anywhere downtown. So the only real issue is if someone wants to got to lunch, a 1:30 movie then shop. I can't imagine that affects very many people. "low income workers" can by permits (or their employers can).

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2015 at 2:25 pm

I had hoped that this thread would be positive but instead there seem to be a lot of nitpickers here!

I have no idea of the timing of the movies that these seniors want to do. All I know is that they feel that 3 hours doesn't give them enough time to brunch/movie/early bird dinner probably dependent on the time of the movie they wish to see. I do know that seniors don't like to squeeze into time slots and would rather have leisurely meals and entertainment. At this stage in their lives don't they deserve it!

If they feel that 3 hours is too short and they prefer RWC where they get validated parking in the garage, then that is what suits them. I know they would prefer to stay closer to home because driving on 101 is bad particularly at present.

This was meant to be positive parking suggestions for the City, not a thread telling seniors how they can squeeze their life into 3 hours.

Now please can we get beyond that and discuss some positive parking ideas.

Do we all agree that parking in downtown is not fair?

BTW, buying a permit for a low income worker who works part time 2 or 3 days a week plus weekends is equally unfair. Many restaurant workers work the type of shift which covers lunch time only, or requires them to start at 2.00 pm or requires them to work weekends and a couple of weekdays. And before you start nitpicking on this, sometimes retired seniors work part time, short days, a couple of days a week too. I don't know the details, but I have heard from my senior friends that they feel they are being treated poorly in respect to parking in downtown PA.

Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Sep 25, 2015 at 2:43 pm

"Now that all day parking near downtown has gotten much harder, ..."

Downtown parking just got a LOT easier. I, of course, have a resident permit. I can't tell you how much this means to me - to be able to park within a reasonable distance to my home. Thanks PACC!

"Do we all agree that parking in downtown is not fair? "

It's a lot more fair now, than it was before.

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2015 at 3:02 pm

"Do we all agree that parking in downtown is not fair?"

No. It's dumb.

What have the latest phase of a poorly thought out parking approach that has been lurching and stumbling ineffectually for decades.

Instead of ensuring adequate parking for all the businesses that it has giddily allowed to get packed into downtown, city hall has careened between trying to push drivers away with clumsy obstructive traffic patterns and overpriced parking permits, and wishing them away with vague fantasies of transit-oriented development. Neither has worked.

We need to accept reality and come up with actual parking spaces. Initiate a crash program to build parking garages on the existing public surface lots, and price them reasonably.

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