Downtown North residents voiced concerns about potential parking problems related to the proposed development of the Lytton Gateway building during a meeting with developers Tuesday, May 1.
"The neighborhood is saturated with cars from downtown Palo Alto," Jim Mimmack, a resident of Palo Alto Avenue, said.
Developers Boyd Smith, Lund Smith and Scott Foster presented their plan to mitigate the impact on parking of the four-story mixed-use building planned for the corner Lytton Avenue and Alma Street.
The plan includes $250,000 to implement a Residential Permit Parking Program for the Downtown North neighborhood, $1.5 million for an in-lieu parking fee to improve downtown's parking capacity, and a program to reduce building employees' car use.
Boyd Smith said the Residential Permit Parking Program, which would limit the amount of time non-residents could park, is key to solving residents' concerns about spillover parking from downtown.
"That forces people to go find parking somewhere else," Boyd said. "As long as there is parking available on your streets and it's free, people will park there."
Elaine Haight, who lives near the intersection of Cowper Street and Hawthorne Avenue, said she supports the project because of its proximity to the Caltrain station. She said she thought permit parking would eliminate most of the opposition.
Many residents at the meeting were supportive of the permit-parking program, which would have to be approved by the City Council, but some expressed opposition.
"I don't think street parking is deeded to people who live in the neighborhood," Steve Langdon said. Langdon lives near the intersection at Everett Avenue and Ramona Street.
Langdon expressed concern about what downtown workers would do if they weren't allowed to park in the surrounding neighborhood.
Frustration with the council and staff was a common sentiment among the attendees, with many saying the city had failed to live up to its responsibilities to provide adequate parking for downtown businesses.
Residents also expressed concern that the $1.5 million provided for the in-lieu parking fee would not be spent by the city on improving downtown parking.
Boyd Smith said the developers would clearly state in any agreement with the city how the funds are meant to be used.
"It's an expensive thing for us to do this," he said. "I will not appreciate ... if the city takes these funds I've specifically identified to solve these problems and redirects them."
The developers said the project's proximity to the Caltrain station and bus hub means workers at the office building would be more likely to use mass transit. Their proposal included a "Transportation Demand Management" program to reduce the number of cars used by employees of the office building.
The program would include providing free transit passes to all employees, one zip car for hourly rental, showers to encourage people to bike to work and carpool spaces.