A two-hour limit for street parking in the area from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays has been instituted, along with a new pilot program that allows residents to purchase a license and park on the street for longer than the limit.
Residents who live between Stanford and California avenues and west of El Camino Real could opt into the pilot program on a block-by-block basis. Of 704 addresses in College Terrace within blocks opting into the program, 447 addresses applied for the permits, according to Shahla Yazdy, the city transportation engineer overseeing the program. Enforcement began in December.
Residential streets in College Terrace were overrun with parked cars and traffic from Stanford University and employees at Stanford Research Park prior to the permit program, residents said.
The city issued 147 citations from Dec. 7 to Jan. 6 for overtime parking, Yazdy said.
Neighborhood leaders said they are mostly pleased.
"It's like night and day," said Susan Rosenberg, secretary of the College Terrace Residents' Association, who lives on Stanford Avenue at Dartmouth Street. "Once the grace period was over, nobody was parking there. It's very successful," she said.
Brent Barker, Research Park observer for College Terrace, said that parking has improved on side streets adjacent to the industrial park, but that more must be done.
"There is a sense of relief. There are still a lot of visitors, but there is a sense of hopefulness," he said.
Parking lots that were once relatively empty on the Facebook campus are now well used, he added.
"The two-hour limit is forcing people to park in the lots. Most have picked up on the spirit of it. They want to be good neighbors and comply," he said.
Facebook's recent announcement that it will move half its employees to another building with a parking lot could also reduce parking pressures, he said.
Diane Finkelstein, chair of the "working group," a citizen task force that works with the city on the permit program, said people are mostly pleased but that some hot spots still need to be worked out.
"There are still some concerns about Facebook. We haven't put our finger on it yet. They seem to get an inordinate amount of visitors," she said.
Zoning issues could also be contributing to some problems in the Lower Terrace, she said.
"We're still concerned about the CN zone," she said, where the neighborhood borders a retail area. One side of a side street near El Camino Real is part of the program, but the commercial-building side is not in the program, she said.
"We're working with the city to work out the bumps," she said.
Finkelstein said the pilot program is being subsidized in part by $100,000 from Stanford, as mitigation for impacts when Escondido Village was built. Residents are concerned the $15 a year they currently pay for permits will go up when the subsidy runs out — and they don't know by how much, she said.
In theory, revenue from citations is supposed to cover the additional cost, but the working group is concerned it might not be enough, she said.
But the program has created at least one fringe benefit: many parents who transport their children to Escondido Elementary School are less harried, she said.
"It's easier for parents who drive kids to Escondido to find a space where they can stop for a short time to pick up their children. You don't see people in front of fire hydrants or blocking intersections. It has opened things up," she said.
A program evaluation will last into April, after which the results will be reported to the Palo Alto City Council, Yazdy said.
But parking problems are only getting worse in adjacent neighborhoods, Evergreen Park residents said. Evergreen Park, which is across El Camino from the research park, experiences considerable overflow parking by employees, according to David Schrom, neighborhood association president.
At a recent Architectural Review Board meeting, at least one resident wanted a parking-permit program for that neighborhood, according to Yazdy.
The city evaluated nonresident parking there 10 years ago, when there was a midday average of 200 vehicles parking on neighborhood streets, Schrom said. Early discussion about including Evergreen Park in the pilot parking-permit program was dropped, he added.
"This is one of those things where I wonder why they failed to take a more integrated approach," he said on Monday. "I want some city employee to call me up on Tuesday morning and I want the study to be offered to us straight up."
Some residents say they have heard anecdotally that people who used to park in College Terrace are now parking in Evergreen Park to avoid fines.
Schrom said there isn't any hard data to prove that theory, but that parking has gotten increasingly worse in recent years. Common sense dictates the problem would not be eliminated by instituting the program in one problem community only, he said. That's something even his 10-year-old pointed out, he added.
"If you essentially destroy a parking lot for several hundred people they are going to go somewhere else," he said.