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Opinion: 'Streamlining' the city's residential parking program, really?

Original post made on Apr 29, 2022

Despite the fact that we have more employees per population than almost any other city in California, Palo Alto contracted its neighborhood parking program to an obviously unprepared group.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 29, 2022, 6:56 AM

Comments (16)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2022 at 8:55 am

Online Name is a registered user.

More of our money flushed down the drain by Palo Alto's "leaders" who can't be bothered to supervise contractors or employees to ensure that anything works. But sure, keep raising our utility rates etc. so the city can keep hiring more slackers and keep the consultant gravy train running.

Maybe the same political consultant responsible for selling us the new "improved" Utility Transfer tax to legitimize the illegal overcharges can get to work along with the new Senior CPAU staffer hired to lobby us can do another round of polling.


Posted by Evergreen Park Observer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 29, 2022 at 10:54 am

Evergreen Park Observer is a registered user.

We have been telling the City for over a year that the Duncan system does not work and that they are incompetent. Despite this, more work is being given to them, e.g., the virtual permit system enforcement. The City has told us several times that enforcement is to begin on a certain date, but without an announcement, enforcement is delayed. This leads to the belief that the City announces enforcement merely to get residents and employees to buy permits, not to actually get services they pay for. The people in the office of transportation are very nice people, but either they don't, or more likely are not allowed to, recognize the Duncan disaster and make a course correction.


Posted by Evergreen Park Observer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 29, 2022 at 10:56 am

Evergreen Park Observer is a registered user.

BTW, I did see enforcement vehicles in College Terrace this week. But, we all know that College Terrace gets special treatment when it comes to their RPP. The current council member who incorrectly takes credit for establishing the College Terrace RPP consistently votes against others receiving the same services. I have not see any enforcement vehicle in Evergreen Park for weeks. Disappeared again?


Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 29, 2022 at 11:10 am

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

Enforcement: Each neighborhood enforcement can be different. In some cases, PA Police Department provides enforcement. In other case, enforcement is provided by a private contractor accountable to the Office of Transportation. As a result, there may be no uniform enforcement standard about frequency, day of week and time of day.

In Downtown North neighborhood, PAPD enforces street sweeping Tuesdays with unmatched punctuality. However, permit parking enforcement (8am-6pm M-F) is a mystery to me.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 29, 2022 at 1:19 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

What are the rules about basketball hoops?

Apart from the fact that one is on the street, there is also the fact that it encourages people to be in the street paying attention to a ball rather than traffic.

Can these be cited?


Posted by CC
a resident of University South
on Apr 29, 2022 at 3:28 pm

CC is a registered user.

And now places like Channing House can really take advantage of this new system.

In the past years, they’ve gotten their residents to get hanging tags ( many who don’t own cars) to give to the front desk.

The front desk hands these out too employees, contractors and worse their construction workers.

Channing house is allotted a certain number of employee parking permits.

Well now with the new No sticker needed, it will be harder for us as residents to determine how many cars Channing house is actually parking.

When the program first rolled out, we neighbors could FINALLY find parking in front of our homes. Not anymore!!!

This whole parking system they’ve implemented is a disaster. It has been since the beginning.

And now we have to pay to park our own car on the street.

Shame on you COPA


Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 29, 2022 at 6:17 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

Communities in the Boston area have developed a home-grown solution for this: in the wintertime, folks place old garbage cans, broken lawn furniture, or other bulky junk in their streetside parking spaces to prevent them being "stolen". Something like that could work well here - locals would have streetside parking, or they would get "free pickup" of a bulky trash item that otherwise the City would charge handsomely to remove.


Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 29, 2022 at 9:20 pm

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

Ten years ago I was among dozens of neighborhood leaders who successfully lobbied the city council and staff to implement a permit parking "system". Resistance from city council and business community was significant but city council stewardship eventually found a balance for commercial parking vs neighborhood quality. The council committed to continuous improvement of the parking programs, but their commitment has been less than robust.

I am not surprised that Ms. Winkler may have gotten a permit without proof of residency. I am not surprised that the new permit system is not user friendly and that it failed continuity of service.

There are three root causes dragging down quality parking programs for residential neighborhoods AND for University and California Avenue commercial cores.

First, city council and staff have a pattern of trying to do too much without adequate resources and staffing. When systems are not tested and improved over time, they will fail. Now city staff are implementing a new system for neighborhoods and seem to be experiencing basic problems of implementation and functionality.

Second, Covid forced city staff into work-from-home conditions which hampers hands-on implementation and interface with residents who have years of experience. Covid is a legit limiting factor but there may be issues greater than the hurdle of a totally new system. Is the user interface proven and friendly for 2022? Will the system provide the management data sought by City Council to manage parking within the residential neighborhoods AND within the commercial cores.

Third, will our City Council address the elephant in the room? Parking policies in the University Avenue commercial core have never been managed properly. As a result, one square mile of residential neighborhood area is needed to provide hundreds of commercial parking spaces for the commercial core. There is no coherent management of public AND private parking capacity.


Posted by peter p.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2022 at 8:42 am

peter p. is a registered user.

Many neighbors worked long and hard to be able to park in front of their own house. It is unfortunate the present permit system has proven to be so difficult to use but hopefully we will never return to the days when a few commercial concerns ruled neighborhood streets.


Posted by Evergeen Mike
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 30, 2022 at 9:38 am

Evergeen Mike is a registered user.

The permitting process in Evergreen Park has been similarly frustrating. The instructions are confusing, the website doesn't work, phone calls are not returned, and going to City Hall to try to get a permit gets "we don't do that here". Communication has been almost non-existent.

I'm sure that with the time and energy that city staff have expended to try to get Duncan Systems to deliver what they were hired to do, that they could have created a simple permit system which actually served the needs of the city's residents.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2022 at 11:31 am

Online Name is a registered user.

This city is broken and seemingly incapable of making anything work. I reported a non-working street light using the city's form. I know other neighbors also reported it weeks before.

After a month I'm still waiting. Tick tock, tick tock.


Posted by staying home
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 3, 2022 at 11:57 am

staying home is a registered user.

does the virtual parking permit include patrolling for violators? the physical permits allow for neighbors to validate if the car camped in front of their house is from the neighborhood or is a day commuter looking for free parking. bring back the physical permit


Posted by MarianneMueller
a resident of Professorville
on May 3, 2022 at 2:22 pm

MarianneMueller is a registered user.

I want to give a shout out to city staff in this case, the website does not work but there was a comment having problems? Make an appointment, and I did so online, went downtown for my appointment, waited in the lobby and the person came down to meet me he was very helpful and on his personal device ordered for me what I needed namely a hangtag for my caregiver, when I got home I had email with a link for payment, which I was able to do online, now I am waiting for the hangtag to arrive in the mail , I was able to print out a receipt, which has a permit number and it looks like if need be I could put this receipt on the dash when the time comes and the current hang tag expires . although it can often be frustrating to deal with any government official in this case the person from the parking department or transportation department was extremely helpful and friendly and I really appreciate having this problem solved. Or I assume it’s solve as I trust the hangtag will arrive in the mail, and if not, I know I can contact the person who originally helped me and he will help resolve it then, he offered to do so in that eventuality. So I wanted to offer this anecdote to other cynics out there. thank you to the friendly guy from transportation,marianne
p.s. RPP on our street has been great previously our street was filled with downtown commuters here in Professorville but with RPP Problem solved


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2022 at 4:21 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Good for you.

Have they put up a message on the unworkable website yet so all the other people who don't happen to be reading the comments know to do the same? Have they tried to penalize the contractor who's charging us for the non-working website as an incentive to make sure we get what we're paying for?


Posted by toransu
a resident of Barron Park
on May 4, 2022 at 12:45 am

toransu is a registered user.

Why do we even need a parking program? Doesn't the city building code require garages and parking on each lot? Maybe if any thought was put into actual bike infrastructure or public transit, we wouldn't need to worry about these things!


Posted by Judith Kenney
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 11, 2022 at 10:19 am

Judith Kenney is a registered user.

We got our hang tag. It would be a small but very helpful thing to have it printed on both sides. We got ticketed when one of our kids, distractedly hung it up wrong side out.


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