Parking woes prompt permit push | July 27, 2007 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - July 27, 2007

Parking woes prompt permit push

Some College Terrace residents want permit system while others object to paying for neighborhood parking

by Molly Tanenbaum

The cost to park at Stanford University for a year: between $216 and $552. The cost to park across Stanford Avenue in Palo Alto's College Terrace neighborhood: free.

This story contains 745 words.

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Staff Writer Molly Tanenbaum can be e-mailed at


Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 27, 2007 at 8:34 am

Naturally College Terrace will get permit parking. Anything that College Terrace wants--they get from the city. They have traffic calming, but it was not enough--now they have more traffic calming. Now they want permit parking.
Oh, if only other neighborhoods in this city could be so blessed with getting anything they want from the city
Whatever happened to the concept of public streets? Isn;t everyone entitled to park on any street in Palo Alto or is College Terrace planning to become a enclosed enclave where "outsiders" will not be permitted.

Posted by Stanford driver, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 27, 2007 at 9:03 am

Someone needs to educate Pria Graves as to the difference between private and public areas. Stanford is a private university and an regulate parking on it's property. College Terrace streets are a public entity and therefore anyone is entitled to park on the streets (as long as they are not red curbed). Perhaps a solution to the problem is for the residents of College Terrace to privatize the streets in their neighborhood--that way they will be allowed to regulate parking (they will also be responsible for all maintenance and upkeep of said streets).

Posted by Paly Parent, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2007 at 9:27 am

I often feel very bad for residents in the Paly neighborhood also as I know that many people park there. I often have to myself as there is not enough parking in Paly for parents during the school day when I have to visit for an hour or so. I am sure that students must use their streets also.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 27, 2007 at 10:38 am

Let's give College Terrace permit parking because the Council will not be able to discriminate against other neighborhoods who request a similar permit parking program in the future.

When the Campus for Jewish Life with its 400 seat theater is built, everyone will park on the streets of Charleston Gardens and Adobe Meadows, A precedent will have been set, and we can apply to the City for permit parking in our neighborhoods.

Eventually, the administrative costs to the City will be huge.

Posted by youboughtit, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 27, 2007 at 11:01 am

I bought a house near the railway line. The noise from trains is really unacceptable. The train line should be closed down or re-routed so that these commuters don't ruin my neighborhood.

Someone bought a house next to a University knowing that people from the University parked on their street. Now they want to change it so that they can avoid the problem that came with the property.

Grow up.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2007 at 11:02 am

The residents of College Terrace benefit from being close to Stanford (including an overly inflated property value on their homes) but whine if there are any downsides to their location. I say, take the bad with the good. Stanford was already there when they bought their houses. It's like when people buy houses, at reduced prices, on busy streets and then want the city to slow or reduce traffic (traffic calming) on their street.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 27, 2007 at 11:23 am

Resident--I am not sure this will create a precedent, since the College Terrace area has excess "traffic calming" measures, while other neighborhoods have none. Also, in another thread, a College Terrace resident was pushing for another traffic light on El Camino (want to bet that they get it?). I think that granting College Terrace this parking permit request will set a dangerous precedent--College Terrace gets whatever they ask for, while other neighborhoods in PA get ignored.

Joe--you are right on with your comments about College Terrace.

I personally want to see "traffic calming" on San Antonio Road--I think all that traffic coming off of 101 should be diverted to the Embarcadero and University Avenue (i.e north PA) exits.

Posted by Estin Marulis, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 27, 2007 at 2:32 pm

Right now, based on the pettiness of the above comments, CT comes off looking pretty good.

The fact is that CT is bordered on two sides by Stanford's commercial buildings, and Stanford housing. CT is thus in a situation that is almost unique, and deserves some relief.

Downtown residents have parking signs. Evergreen Park residents have wanted parking zones for a long time.

Frankly, I think that any neighborhood that is impacted by outside parking should be able to make a case foro regulated parking. Why not?

If we had better MASS TRANSIT, none of this would be a problem.

Posted by in favor of permits, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 27, 2007 at 3:36 pm

we have parking restrictions in our neighborhood because we live next to a park that charges $5.00 to park. I am all in favor of the parking restrictions. I have permits that I can hand out to my guests. The parking restrictions are from thurs-sun. College Terrace could look into having limited restrictions during the most busy times. I also like that you cannot park your car on the street overnight in Menlo Park. I bet if PA had that rule that College Terrace would not have as bad a problem with parking.

Posted by Reggie, a resident of Triple El
on Jul 27, 2007 at 3:51 pm

It is not exactly clear what form the permit parking in CT will take.It should definitely not be a 24 hour, 7 day week restriction--maybe only weekdays from 8AM-5PM.
the parking permit requirement for much of Stanford is from 6Am-4PM weekdays, after that anyone can park.
Not sure the CT residents would want to go the way of menlo Park, based on this part of the original story:

"Graves said the problem is exacerbated by the fact that many College Terrace residents live on narrow lots with one or no parking spaces on their own property. Families with multiple cars must park their own vehicles on the streets, too.

"I think right along Stanford Avenue, it's probably about as bad as Berkeley," Graves said.

But not all College Terrace residents are frustrated enough to want city action.

Some, like 20-year resident Geoff Dietz, opposes the idea of permit parking. Dietz lives on the portion of Stanford Avenue across from Escondido Elementary School that does not allow street parking. Though he doesn't like all the traffic in front of his house created by the university and the grade school, he doesn't think permits will fix things.

"I wouldn't advocate for anything to change. That would be a minority opinion, I suspect," he said.

Permits, Dietz said, would further inconvenience his guests who already must park around the corner from his house.

"Do I have to have a permit for somebody to come over and visit me in the evening?" he asked.

Down the street from Dietz, Elina and John Haggerty feel mixed about cars left on their neighborhood streets. The Haggertys, who both work for Stanford and walk to their jobs, keep a truck in their driveway and two cars on the streets."

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Anyone any idea of how many houses in College Park are rented to students with 6 or so students living in each with 6 cars too.

Posted by John, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2007 at 4:26 pm

I guess I am missing something here. Why doesn't Stanford just give free parking permits to its workers, students, faculty? They would then park at Stanford, instead of CT. There would be no more traffic than there is now, but it would all just be on the campus. If Stanford feels it needs to incentivize its own people to take public transportation, car pool, etc., then just start a program whereby those people are given a stipend to do it.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 27, 2007 at 7:01 pm

Instead of the city council giving CT what they want (again), maybe it would be fairer to have a trade-off---permit parking will be created for CT and all of the "traffic calming" will be removed (so that the public streets will once again be open to the public and not just the residents of the "private" enclave of CT).
Or we can proclaim that the streets in CT are historic!!!

Posted by A CT Resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2007 at 9:51 pm

I live in CT and love it here. Yes the non-resident parking is a pain for me and my family. I cannot park in front of my own house. I have any number of cars left for weeks in front of my house. It's frustrating. But we deal. If we get permits here, fine. If not, fine. Please do Not lump all of us CT residents in one. Not all of us agree with the actions of the resident association and it's many sub-groups. Many of us did not see a need for further traffic calming or permits or what ever the complaint of the day is.
Just one happy CT opinion. :)

Posted by Fred, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2007 at 7:16 am

This parking permit issue should be treated like single story overlay The College Terrace Association should be required to get 78% of the residents to sign a petition requesting parking permits. Then it should go to Council for their consideration. If they get fewer than 78% of residents signatures no approval should be sort or given.

Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Professorville
on Jul 28, 2007 at 8:41 am

Dear CT resident - cars in PA can only be parked on the street for 72 hours. The Police Department has an online reporting method if you'd like to have the cars tagged (they give lots of notice before they ticket or tow). Here's the link Web Link

Posted by WorkedforStanford, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 28, 2007 at 8:49 am

John, Stanford used to have free parking for staff, but things have changed. The moneymaking machine is in charge now. You may have noticed.

Posted by registered user, Curious Observer, a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2007 at 9:55 pm

Stanford provides lots of incentives to get their employees to use public transit (Go Passes for Caltrain and the Marguerite shuttles for example). However, they also know a certain percentage of people will not give up their cars. The money they make from selling the permits helps pay for the transit incentives. The fewer permits they sell, they less money they have to fund the incentives...get it???
When I first moved to the area, it cost 75cents to park all day at Tressider. I am grateful that parking is still free after 4 p.m. and on the weekends. I hope that never changes.

Posted by Meg Minto, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2007 at 9:34 am

All of my sympathy goes to College Terrace. Stanford has a problem with its General Use Permit (GUP): it is obliged to keep the number of trips to and from campus in the morning and afternoon commute hours to a certain number or pay enormous fines. We Stanford employees repeatedly - for about the last year or so - have had to report to our managers saying how we get to campus. Apparently that measure caused a number of people to start parking in College Terrace where they can easily pick up the "A" Marguerite to get to their jobs. These workers can say, when their manager asks, that they come to their jobs on the Marguerite shuttle. What they don't say is that they transferred a Stanford problem to its neighbor, College Terrace.

In my opinion, Stanford needs to take further steps to stop its employees creating trouble for its neighbors. The employees are greatly at fault, but in the end, it is Stanford's problem, and a very serious one.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 30, 2007 at 9:50 am

Ms Minto--the Stanford employees are not "creating trouble for its neighbors" as you state. I am not sure how big a problem this parking issue really is for College Terrace and whether College terrace is just doing what it is good at doing (i.e. extracting traffic concessions from PA).
Anyway, Stanford workers are just doing what is their right--parking on PUBLIC STREETS.

Posted by Meg Minto, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2007 at 10:02 am

Marvin, of course it's their right, but it's a right that they are obviously not supposed to avail themselves of. Stanford clearly did not want its employees parking on public streets.

I am, by the way, not so sure how "public" public streets are, having sat in enough Menlo Park City Council meetings and having heard residents complain about outsiders leaking oil on "their" streets. Residents watch very, very closely who parks on their streets: public/private is, in a very important sense, not relevant.

I know - I see - there is a huge amount of resentment against College Terrace because of all that it has done to calm traffic - but let's leave that out.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 30, 2007 at 10:15 am

Meg--it sounds like there are multiple issues here:

1) small narrow streets and single car driveways in CT
2) people having multiple cars that must be parked on the streets
3) according to the PA Daily article--people elaving cras for weeks and months on the street in CT
4) public availing themselves of the right to park on public streets

It is always easy, especially for CT to blame all of their woes on Stanford.

Regarding the statement "Stanford clearly did not want its employees parking on public streets."--Stanford cannot control where there employees park on public property.

Public streets are just that--public. they were paid for by the taxpayers and therefore are for the use of EVRYONE.

Posted by Meg Minto, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2007 at 12:56 pm

It looks as though I've been unrealistic about (a) what Stanford can do to get employees to understand and accept and (b) how willing employees are to (1) support their employer through a difficult time and (2) be fair to residents of College Terrace.

Posted by Lets Bart, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2007 at 4:40 am

BART to CT ! Move PA Garbage and recycling to CT. Why is CT so special ?

Posted by Pat Markevitch, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2007 at 10:04 am

College Terrace is not in a unique situation. Every neighborhood has it's own set of issues with traffic/parking. As an example, Edgewood Drive has to deal with cars bypassing traffic back-ups on Highway 101. As a resident of the west end of Downtown North, parking near our homes can be a challenge sometimes. Our neighborhood does have signs notifying drivers as to the hours when the street cleaners come through. This is for only part of the neighborhood and for a few hours on alternating Tuesdays. I think even these signs are unnecessary because we really only need street cleaning in the Fall. The combination of folks who park in the neighborhood then walk to the train station, and the people who park in our neighborhood who work downtown, as well as the customers who patronize the downtown businesses makes it hard for my neighbors to park near their homes. While it can be an inconvenience, I certainly wouldn't consider permit parking because at least I know that people are taking the train or contributing to the businesses nearby. Traffic and parking will always be an issue but to issue parking permits will not make the problem go away, it will just move the problem to another neighborhood.

Posted by Bluto, CT resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2007 at 10:55 am

College terrace does not need parking permits. Those are pubic streets and anyone should be able to park on them.

The point above that Stanford should not charge for parking is the appropriate solution.

We should also change zoning in CT so that there is no more multi unit housing. Single family houses will decrease the over crowded neighborhood as well.

PS. The traffic calming is a joke. Don't let traffic circles get put up in your neighborhood. They are just a nuisance.

Posted by Gus, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2007 at 11:48 am

The reason Stanford has high parking rates for it's staff is simple, and it's not to raise revenue. Under the current General Use Permit with the county, the University is allowed no new net traffic flow over the next 10 years. To keep the traffic flow down, Stanford must discourage its employees from driving to work and parking on campus. Therefore it has lots of incentive programs (high parking permit rates, limited parking spaces, free bus and train passes, etc.) to discourage traffic flow to campus. But as a result of the limited parking and high rates on campus, people are parking nearby in CT.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2007 at 11:56 am

Stanford should be required to supply adequate free parking on campus for all users. Any permitting that halts that is against the public interest. People opposed to accomodating the express needs of the public should not enter public service.

Posted by In favor of residential parking permit ordinance, a resident of Meadow Park
on Jul 31, 2007 at 12:15 pm

Please look at the examples below of some existing city ordinances. You can google residential parking ordinances to find more examples.

(1) Parking of vehicles in residential areas by nonresidential users creats residential problems of a safety, environmental and aesthetic nature. To encourage reliance on car pools and mass transit, which is achieved by assuring convenient parking to residents who leave their cars at home during the day, to enhance the quality of life in residential areas by reducing noise, traffic hazards and litter, to reduce air pollution and other environmental factors of excessive automobile commuting, and to preserve the safety of children and other pedestrians, and the residential area from the above-mentioned health and safety hazards, a Residential Permit Parking Ordinance
is necessary. [The council of the City of Saint Paul finds that the residential area adjacent to or near the University of Minnesota, Saint Paul Campus does not have sufficient off-street parking to safely accommodate the residential parking needs of the residents, and the parking needs of nonresidents using this institution.]

(2)Residential Parking Permit Program (RPPP)
The Residential Parking Permit Program was established to provide guideline and procedure when granting approval or denial for the establishment of RPPP Zone. A written request for the establishment of the zone for a particular area can be initiated by the residents or by the City staff. Please contact the Transportation Division for more information.
[Web Link]

(3)12.30.010 PURPOSE
This Program is enacted to mitigate the serious adverse effects of congestion associated with on-street parking of motor vehicles by non-residents upon roadways within certain areas and neighborhoods of Alameda County. As set forth in more specific detail in Section 12.30.020 of this Chapter, such long-term parking by non-residents displaces resident parking, impairs the health, safety, and welfare of all Alameda County residents and negatively impacts the aesthetic appearance of residential neighborhoods. The provisions of this chapter set forth procedures for the establishment of Residential Permit Parking areas within unincorporated Alameda County.


Because the Campus for Jewish Life will be the largest development ever built within Palo Alto, I am in favor of putting a residencial parking permit ordinance in place before the project is completed. I also favor these parking permit ordinances in other Palo Alto neighborhoods.

Posted by Meg Minto, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2007 at 12:22 pm

Anyone who would like to look (Google) can see what the terms of the General Use Permit are. There is a parking lot cap under the permit, and I understand Stanford has reached it. In any case, the number of trips could not increase even if there were more spaces.

No more trips and no more parking spaces. Clearly people are supposed to use public transit and the shuttles.

"As a result of the limited parking and high rates AND REFUSAL (OR WHATEVER) TO USE PUBLIC TRANSIT, people are parking in nearby CT."

(Don't mess with the zoning!! The best neighborhoods are mixed.)

Posted by registered user, Curious Observer, a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2007 at 1:02 pm

An item on Stanford's News page discusses the building of the new campus for the Graduate School of Business. Do you think this new campus is going to accommodate the current staff and students of the Business School or do you think it's going to be even bigger thus paving the way for even more faculty, staff and students???

Posted by Meg Minto, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 31, 2007 at 1:31 pm

Curious Observer, see the last two issues of the Stanford Report: Stanford sees the main campus as being for faculty, students, and researchers, and to a lesser degree for staff. Staff and their "business offices" will be moved elsewhere, probably fairly soon, some to SRI, some to Porter Drive (the other side of College Terrace). Later on, many offices will move to Redwood City.

The problem that everybody has today is thought to be a temporary one. If 20% of Stanford staff are off campus in a few years...

The GSB will be near the dorm housing its students. The Law School will be near the Munger dorm housing its students. Those arrangements will presumably lead to fewer trips at critical times. The people spending their days on campus will be people already resident there; if I'm not mistaken, that's the plan.

Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Professorville
on Jul 31, 2007 at 1:46 pm

It makes sense to have permit parking in areas significantly impacted by non-neighborhood parking (College Terrace and Downtown, both North and South come to mind). A reasonable program which could accommodate residents, visitors and the general public.

If only one side of the street was permit parking it would allow visitors a space, keep some of the mass-transit parking and give residents preference for parking.

Posted by rinconadaResident, a resident of Community Center
on Aug 1, 2007 at 12:46 pm

I live by the Rinconada pool. Every summer the parking in this area is horrendous. We need to have parking permits in this area as well. Non-residents should not be using residential streets to park and use the pool!

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2007 at 1:58 pm

The reality is that policy makers are loathe to let this sort of thing happen without STRONG neighborhood support.

City staff is lean to the bone, and not wont to support this sort of thing without STRONG neighborhod support.

Go out and get petitions going in your respective neighborhoods - otherwise, neighborhood permitting will never happen.

btw, I'm in favor of neighborhood permitting, which is essentially a band-aid covering a more compelling need for comprehensive, affordable, and efficient MASS TRANSIT.

Web Link

We need to learn a few things from the Europeans, about getting people efficiently from point A to Point B, as well as INSISTING on leadership that is not afraid to buck the automobile madness (and lobbyists) in American culture.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2007 at 2:21 pm


I am thinking about your comment about mass transit. The best way for me to get my head around it is to think about specific examples. For example, if I lived in San Jose, and worked at Stanford, I could take CalTrain to Palo Alto, then take the Stanford or PA buses to get to campus. If I lived in Tracy or Fremont, I could take any number of carpool vans that have been running for many years. The problem that one faces is convenience. It is still more convenient to drive.

I have been to Europe several times. Yes, there is better mass transit, but cars are winning the battle. Rome is a sea of cars.

On this issue of Stanford, I do not think we can wait for a perfect world in order to solve the immediate problem. The essential problem, as I understand it, is that those, perhaps like yourself, have demanded that Stanford develop mass transportation. At the same time, Palo Alto encourages ever MORE car trips to PA. It's a double standard. We need to get rid of the strictures against Stanford, while also providing incentives (not disincentives) for carpooling, train rides, buses, low poluting cars, etc.

I do agree with you that parking permits will require a big buy-in from CT residents. I am only in favor of them as a last resort.

Release Stanford from the car count first...then let us see what happens.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2007 at 4:52 pm


If there was a serious regional mass transit plan on the table that was designed to be more than a five year negotiation (thus enabling policy makers and administrators to say "we're working non it") - THEN I would support some relief for Stanford.

You're right about the double standard, but I don't see relief from those strictures as an incentive for Stanford to do what is necessary to bring mass transit to its employees.

In fact, I would like to see FURTHER strictures placed on municipalities foro failing to provide coordinated mass transit.

Stanford is made to two the line in ways that most municipalities don't. I don't know whether that's an artifact of Stanford's traditional aloofness, or a result of a failure by Palo Alto and other neighboring municipalities to get on the same page and work WITH Stanford in ways that are forward-looking, and seriously proactive.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2007 at 5:15 pm


With resepct, I think you have just defined the problem, and it is you.

Stanford is the economic engine of the mid-peninsula. The prosperity of Palo Alto and Mt. View and Menlo Park...and others is dependent on Stanford, either directly or indirectly. Palo Alto would not exist without Stanford, historically.

You seem to want Stanford to lead some kind of environmental crusade. Even with Stanford's penchant for wanting to lead the way into the future, even if it is wrong about the future, the bottom line is that Stanford is a university. In the modern age this means that it is a major enterprise, one that needs to grow and expand, if it is to stay on the top edge of research and education of future researchers. Stanford MUST become more dense, in terms of facilities and housing and employees. I believe that we should encourage this growth, not inhibit it.

Palo Alto benefits much more from Stanford than Stanford does from Palo Alto. We PA citizens need to get off our high horse and let Stanford develop according the 'market' that exists for a world-class institution. On the other hand, and at the same time, we need to insist that Stanford satisfy its own obligations concerning parking issues.

I do support car-pooling and train rides, etc., but I think they needs to be voluntary (perhaps incentivized), and not mandated.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 1, 2007 at 8:52 pm

There's no need to debate about what Stanford should or should not do about the cost of parking on campus and its relationship to the spillover parking in College Terrace. It doesn't matter what Mike or Craig or Walter or Marvin or any of us think would be the best policy -- in fact, it doesn't even matter what the City of Palo Alto thinks.

The facts are that:
1. Under the environmental laws of California, it is no longer an option for major institutions to go on "biggering and biggering" without dealing with the traffic congestion that such growth would produce. There are economic and environmental costs of this congestion, and institutions like Stanford are required by local authorities to mitigate the impacts that would be caused by their growth.

2. The academic campus of the University is governed by the County of Santa Clara -- NOT the City of Palo Alto. And under the terms of the university's General Use Permit of December 2000, one of the conditions of approval was that:
"Stanford shall mitigate the transportation impacts of its additional development and population growth either through a program of 'no net new commute trips' or through proportional funding of mitigation measures for specified impacted intersections."
Links for more info on this requirement:
Web Link
Web Link
Here's the actual legal document detailing this mitigation (see pages 6-12 of the PDF):
Web Link

3. Stanford CHOSE the more enlightened "no net new commute trips" option instead of being required to pay for traffic congestion reduction at the a couple dozen "impacted" intersections near the campus. Choosing to provide incentives for staff, students and visitors not to drive to campus was not only a green choice, it also is much cheaper than forking over the megabucks for road "improvements" that would otherwise be required of the university.

4. "No net new commute trips" is another name for "trip demand management" (TDM). And there are two main strategies in any effective program that actually shifts people out of solo driving and gets more to take transit, carpool, bike, walk, etc:

a) improving incentives for using alternatives to driving alone -- federal law allows up to $110 tax free per month for transit and vanpools; see Stanford's transportation website for many other examples (Web Link)

b) increasing the costs that solo drivers have to pay. Remember that free parking is actually not free -- the land consumed by parking commuter vehicles could otherwise be used for something productive, green space or whatever. Depreciated costs of a parking space in a parking garage are usually over $5,000 per year -- there is no such thing as a free lunch and there is no such thing as "free" parking, it's just a question of who pays for it. Even existing surface parking spaces cost about $1000 per year when useful life and replacement costs are taken into account.

4. Joe Simitian, who was a County Supervisor of the time, recognized that any serious TDM program undertaken on the academic campus of Stanford University was going to generate spillover parking in College Terrace, the closest neighborhood with parking that would be attractive to both Stanford students and staff attempting to avoid paying parking permit fees. And the professionals on Stanford's Parking and Transportation staff recognized that spillover parking in College Terrace was going to be a problem. Here's the wording of the requirement that Stanford agreed to as part of 2000 GUP mitigation requirements:
"Within twelve months of General Use Permit approval, Stanford shall allocate funding to the City of Palo Alto or to an escrow account for a residential parking permit program in the College Terrace neighborhood, bounded by Stanford Avenue, El Camino Real, California Avenue, and Amherst Street. The funding shall be for the purpose of consideration and initiation of a parking permit program and shall not be required to exceed $100,000."

5. Why was the solution specified as a parking permit program? Simply put, the politicians and staff involved in the decision knew that there is no other solution that works -- there really is no debate about this among people who actually know about managing the negative impacts of cars. In fact, every other town/gown boundary that involves residential areas and higher education institutions of Stanford's size in Northern California (and nearly all in Southern California, too) already have residential permit parking programs.

All that is happening now is that residents from College Terrace who are suffering growing impacts of the campus parking spillover are asking the City to initiate the required study to find a solution that has been spreading from Stanford Avenue to most of the side streets in the neighborhood between Stanford Avenue and College.

No conspiracy. No special privilege. No Stanford bashing. Just trying to solve a problem that will not be solved any other way, and for which non-taxpayer money is already on deposit with the City.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 2, 2007 at 7:02 am


You have listed the rationale that has caused the problem: "green".

Since spillover parking in CT was recognized from the beginning, it must have been recognized that the parking restriction program would fail to meet its goals. A standard of "No net new commute trips" is an absurd one for a growing instituion like Stanford. If Palo Alto does not control this absurdity, at least PA could actively lobby to get rid of it.

Parking permits might help in CT, but it would also push the problem farther out. If people are currently parking in CT, then jumping on their bikes to get to the center of campus, they will also be willing to do the same thing from a neighborhood or shopping center somewhat farther away.

This is a problem caused by environmentalist true believers. It needs to be solved by realists. I have little patience for those, in CT, who want parking permits, but refuse to challenge the underlying regulations that are causing the problem.

Posted by Palo alto mom, a resident of Professorville
on Aug 2, 2007 at 8:17 am

Neighbor - thank you for all the info!

Craig - What Neighbor was saying is that PA has no control over the "no new parking" but does have control over a solution for the impacted neighborhood. Stanford has already paid 100,000 for the solution and it should be implemented.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 2, 2007 at 10:31 am

PA Mom,

If the "solution" is not really a solution, and we continue to avoid a real solution, then we have just displaced the problem.

It sounds like Stanford has the choice of "No net new commute trips" or intersection upgrades. The former is an illusion; the latter is a solution.

We should be insisting that Stanford revisit its use permit, and upgrade its intersections. PA city council should use their political heft to force the issue.

Parking permits will only push cars onto other streets and neighborhoods. Besides, the permits would probably not be enforced in CT, since other laws are routinely unenforced in PA. $100k probably wouln't even cover the cost of an enforcemnt office for one year. What happens in year two?

We need to talk about solutions, not fantasies.

Posted by go CT, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 2, 2007 at 1:27 pm

"Parking permits will only push cars onto other streets and neighborhoods."

But that doesn't matter as long as the problem is solved for CT! Other neighborhoods can argue their concerns on case by case basis after we've solved the CT problem. If we try to find an "overall" solution nothing will ever happen or will take years.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 2, 2007 at 1:41 pm


A non-solution is not a solution.

I think your reply is satirical, although I am not sure.

I, personally, do not want to push our CT parking problem off onto someone else.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 2, 2007 at 1:41 pm

Maybe go CT's suggestion is one of the problems we have in PA--the city council will go out of it's way to grease the squeaky wheel (in this case a vocal neighborhood--or vocal members thereof) and avoid conflict, without taking in to consideration what needs to be doen or what will be good for the entire city.
And youc an bet your bottom dollar that neighborhood activists know this--the louder they yell, the sooner the city council will grant them their every wish, without regard to the city as a whole.

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 2, 2007 at 2:21 pm


I agree with your specific criticism, as my post, just before yours, indicates.

I would like to make the point, though, that CT was a crucial player in the Mayfield deal (playing fields, housing, SRP expansion), something that benefits the entire city. The housing element, in particular, was contentious in CT, and will continue to be. It is unfair to suggest that CT gets special privileges. CT has special problems that other neighborhoods do not.

Marvin, please tell me what your situation is in Charleton Gardens that needs city consideration. I might even agree with you.... Do you have major cut-through traffic? Do you have lack of accessible park space? Lack of police protection? What, exactly, is your beef?

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 2, 2007 at 2:49 pm

Craig--I think much of the problem in South PA is the general feeling that the north part of the city gets more consideration than the south (many people say that this is due to the fact that most council members are from the north side of town).
AS for traffic, there has been recent talk of closing University Avenue and "calming" traffic on Embarcadero--I think this will lead to more traffic on San Antonio Road.
In general, I think the major problem is that our leaders do not give any thought to the city as a whole, but give certain areas what ever they want

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 2, 2007 at 3:17 pm


I know this feeling exists. I think there is a certain elite that sets the agenda in PA. I don't know that it is North vs. South, although it may be (just don't know). I would say, specifically, that the Stanford parking issue is a result of certain elites that demand a green agenda, no matter what the actual costs.

I think the Alma Plaza deal was, and is, a disaster, one that can be blamed on the 'South', if there is blame to be had. South PA is newer than the older North PA. It was developed, largely, after WWII. It had the benefit of planned neighborhoods, thus the cul-de-sacs and curved mazes for streets. Recently, folks in the South decided to protect their Eichlers by demanding a single-story zoning overlay in some neighborhoods. They brought that on themselves.

The main reason that CT is so organized is that it faces major pressures, unlike many other neighborhoods (North and South).

I do agree with you about San Antonio. I am sure that I could agree with you on other details in the South, but I think you might want to take a step back and consider the special circumstances of CT.

Posted by go CT, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 2, 2007 at 4:25 pm

The comment was half tongue in cheek. However, if you do want an "all inclusive" solution then you will be waiting years, if ever. Just consider how long Downtown North has been waiting for parking permits "Wednesday, March 28, 2001": Web Link

"The program's estimated startup cost is $1.08 million. Annual operating costs are estimated at$893,000. In order for the program to pay for itself, more than 1,300 parking citations would have to be issued per year. Should parking citations fall off because offenders park elsewhere, the program will no longer pay its own way. The sale of parking permits alone will not bring in enough money to cover the costs."

Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 2, 2007 at 4:32 pm


I THINK you are saying that parking permits are not the way to go. Too costly. Not effective. Correct?

Posted by go CT, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 2, 2007 at 5:21 pm

Parking permits would be very effective but if you read the associated web link it comes down to money:

"We're saying - given that we want to put any money that we have into the infrastructure - (the parking program) would have to be paid through revenue from permits and possibly through citations. So if it is a good idea, we're saying it has to be at cost recovery. Staff is not recommending that we subsidize the program."

I don't believe everyone understands the cost these things. $100,000 sounds like a lot of money but look at the estimated running costs of the above program. Yes, the CT program could be smaller and simpler but is it really 1/9th of the size and that's at 2001 prices.
You're going to have a problem getting the rest of the city agreeing to subsidize you year-after-year.

Posted by get the facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2007 at 12:34 pm

The statements about permit parking being too expensive or not a solution are both uninformed by facts. Cities all around California have implemented residential permit parking next to growing universities who do not have the option of unlimited free parking. These programs are self supporting and not a burden on the City budget. Just because the PAPD wrote a report claiming exorbitant costs (without consulting with anyone who actually had experience with designing and implementing workable programs) doesn't mean that it's true.

Also, despite what some folks on this and other online forums may assert, Stanford's General Use Permit is a binding agreement between the County of Santa Clara and Stanford University, based on an Environmental Impact Report which assessed the impacts of 2.2 million square feet of growth on the academic campus and an extensive public input process. It has been legally binding since December 2000, when it received the final approval of the county's final decision making body (which in this case was the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors). It is not subject to change, even by lawsuit, at this point.

A basic summary of the GUP, plus links to official documents, reports etc may be found on the County's web site:
Web Link
(If the link doesn't come through, search for "Santa Clara County Planning Office" and then click on "Plans and Programs" and then on "Stanford University".) Sections G and H of the GUP Conditions of Approval provide accurate information about transportation and parking.

The bottom line is that new development in California (and especially in the Bay Area) is subject to the provisions of CEQA (the state environmental quality law). This was not adopted in Sacramento by any green conspiracy, but is the result of legal efforts beginning in the 1970s to ensure that landowners and developers be held accountable for the air/water pollution, hazardous materials, noise and other impacts of their proposed development.

In a built out environment like ours, where peak hour traffic is close to capacity of our roadways, the traditional "solution" of widening roads to increase capacity is extremely costly and only a temporary fix. Stanford is to be commended for choosing the option of no net new commute trips. While there are "cheaters" using College Terrace streets, the idea that "free" parking would solve the problem is not even advocated by conservatives who understand basic economics.

Posted by dnftt, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2007 at 1:20 pm

<i>Just because the PAPD wrote a report claiming exorbitant costs (without consulting with anyone who actually had experience with designing and implementing workable programs) doesn't mean that it's true.</i>


Any research that contradicts what we want must simply be wrong. They need to do it again until they get it right. Amirite?

Posted by go CT, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 3, 2007 at 2:54 pm

"get the facts",

Yes, you really need to. Stanford charges between $216 and $552, how much money are they making out of their program? Cities all around California *subsidize* their parking permit programs.

All I'm saying is that you will find it hard to get the rest of the city to subsidize yours. You may be able to do it but Downtown North is still waiting 7 years for their program. You can stand in line with your hand out if you wish - just don't expect anyone to donate.

Posted by chris, a resident of University South
on Aug 3, 2007 at 6:36 pm

there is no reason that parking fines could not fund the program.
the level of enforcement can be scaled to the price and number of tickets.

Posted by dnftt, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 6, 2007 at 10:27 am

Well done, Chris, great idea! Just divide the cost between those cited! If it costs $400,000 to create and monitor and there are only 100 citations that year then each citation will be for $4,000 each! That's how we can make it cost-neutral. Simple! Why didn't the city think of this!

I bet you worked on that cost-neutral proposal for MI as well.

Posted by gary, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 6, 2007 at 2:33 pm

we have lived on stanford ave for close to 15 years and i have had more hassles from the PA police about parking my own cars than i have had from stanford students and other people.
we live in college terrace because the university, the hills and calif ave offer us something nice. consequences of living nr a university are students, some noise, some traffic. we deal with it.
i do think i am one of a "larger number than you think" (more silent) of college terrace people who dont need the city to babysit us with useless traffic circles, traffic bumps, and permits.
lets not waste time and $$ on this