Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 13, 2009

Residents nervous over Facebook move

Neighborhood hopes new parking-permit plan will prevent parking woes

by Sue Dremann

As Facebook gears up to move an estimated 800 employees to Stanford Research Park, some residents of the adjacent College Terrace neighborhood are concerned the influx could make existing parking headaches worse.

Facebook will take over the former Agilent building on S. California Avenue in late April or early May, according to sources close to the company. The move comes at a time when neighborhood residents are voting on a parking-permit program that is designed to reduce existing parking problems caused by Stanford University.

The 132,780-square-foot, 2-story building in Stanford Research Park can hold a maximum 1,446 employees. The site has 393 parking spaces, including nine disabled slots, according to plans filed with the Palo Alto Planning Department. Ramsey Shuayto, asset manager for the Stanford Research Park, said the parking allocation conforms to the industrial park's 3.3 spots per 1,000 square feet of building.

How potential overflow parking will be handled has not been determined, according to a Facebook spokesman.

Many residents along California Avenue have submitted ballots to the City of Palo Alto in favor of joining the proposed parking-permit program, according to Shahla Yazdy, the city's project manager.

"I do think that people who live near upper California Avenue are very concerned," said Diane Finkelstein, a member of the College Terrace Resident's Association public advisory committee. "The word on the street is that most are for the parking permit, and I think it's a realistic concern."

"It will definitely be a pressure," resident Fred Balin said. "I lived here when the dot-com boom was on. Every building was full. There was a very big impact."

"It's (already) hard to park on Amherst," said Steve Woodward, College Terrace Residents Association board member and Stanford observer, referring to the street across from Facebook's new location. But future housing developments slated for the area are also of long-range concern, he said.

Residents raised the issue of traffic and parking with Facebook executives in November at an outreach meeting initiated by the company. Facebook spokesman Larry Yu said Wednesday that the company is aware of the sensitivity of the issue and is looking into ways to reduce impact on the neighborhood.

Facebook has not completed its analysis and could not comment on any theoretical scenarios, he said. The company expects to continue talking about the issue with residents, he added.

The company does not currently have a formal transportation program for employees at its downtown Palo Alto locations but does pay for annual parking permits. A few employee ride-sharing mailing lists exist within the company, he said.

A rent-compensation program to encourage employees to live near work ended last year.

College Terrace's proposed parking-permit program was developed due to problems with Stanford students and staff who having been leaving their cars in the neighborhood while they are on campus.

The city mailed ballots to residents to vote on the plan on Feb. 17, with a deadline to return the ballots to the city by Wednesday. But Yazdy said many residents said they did not receive ballots and so the city is extending the deadline, though a new deadline has not been determined.

The permit plan must be approved by the City Council and could be implemented by September, she said.

According to the program proposal, residents would be able to opt in on a block-by-block basis if 51 percent of households on a block vote for the program, Yazdy said. They would be able to purchase parking permits for $15 to $25 annually per vehicle. Two guest permits would be issued for free. Additional optional one-day permits could be purchased for a limited number of days quarterly, she said.

The parking-permit program will be a topic presented at the College Terrace Residents Association annual meeting on Saturday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Escondido School Multi-purpose Room, 890 Escondido Road.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Caltrain, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 13, 2009 at 3:13 pm

The Caltrain station is right down the street. Facebook should give Caltrain passes to its employees and run shuttles back and forth to the train station. Problem solved.


Posted by Lois, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 14, 2009 at 11:22 am

I compliment Facebook for being so loyal to Palo Alto and moving to a location that will keep them in our fair City, but I have to ask myself - why?

What, with a new business tax proposed for the November ballot and hostile neighbors, I'd have to question their decision making process, but thank you anyway Facebook for your many tax dollars!!!

GOOGLE started with offices in PA and they've never regretted their move to Mountain View who continue to trip over themselves to give GOOGLE everything they want, including City owned land. Meanwhile GOOGLE is trying to off load the Agilent Building they leased on Page Mill Road at Park Blvd, maybe Facebook will take that over too!!!!


Posted by Greg, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 14, 2009 at 12:00 pm

Palo Alto is a city of NIMBYs who think they can improve the quality of life by throwing all the employers out of town. Is that plan really going to work in the long term?


Posted by Not enough traffic in College Terrace, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 14, 2009 at 3:50 pm

If I were Facebook, i would not even bother dealing with the College Terrace NIMBYs--I would look for a city that is more welcoming and move there (and trust me there are plenty around).
As for the parking permits--the city is opening a Pandora's Box--why shouldn't every neighborhood have permit parking only (that may be a good way to drive business out of town and cut down on that annoying traffic that everyone is so upset about). Whatever happened to public streets open to everyone?
Anyway College Terrace are good at whining and getting what they want from our spineless City council


Posted by Try empathy, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 14, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Not enough traffic, YOU are always whining about the council and about the people who live here. Try practicing empathy, you might find some peace
College Terrace lives next to a voracious overbearing bloated institution. They have my sympathies. .


Posted by Not enough traffic in College Terrace, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 15, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Am I? After just one post--Try Empathy?
Try considering what Stanford has meant for PA and the citizens of College Terrace.


Posted by Jack, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2009 at 6:04 pm

If I were Facebook (or any other business located in anti-business PA), I would take my tax dollars, massive employee spending power, and large pool of local jobs somewhere else where they are appreciated and valued. And I'm saying that as a P.A. resident!

Let Palo Altans have THEIR taxes raised to cover the deficit from the outflow of major local employers, and they'll get what they deserve.

As much as I like Palo Alto's architecture, amenities, and location, many of the residents here are ungrateful, selfish, one-dimensional fools with very limited thinking. They have the capacity to vote, but little capacity to do so wisely.


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