That discrepancy is resulting in blocks full of parked cars -- and frustrated College Terrace residents who are looking toward a permit program of their own to provide them some relief.
"It's gotten nothing but worse," said Yale Street resident Pria Graves, who is pushing for residential parking permits in her neighborhood, bounded by Stanford and California Avenues, west of El Camino Real.
"It feels unfair that Stanford is charging for parking on campus so we can't go park there, and yet they're parking over here," she added.
Stanford is required by its most recent General Use Permit (GUP) with Santa Clara County -- approved in 2000 -- to keep its car trips to and from campus under 3,600 each morning and evening.
To do so, the university spends $100,000 to encourage its 34,000-person daytime population to use carpooling, public transportation and other ways of traveling to the campus, according to Brodie Hamilton, Stanford director of parking and transportation services, who spoke to the Palo Alto City Council in April.
To discourage commuters from simply parking off campus and earning the same benefits as carpoolers and bus and train riders, Stanford also contributed $100,000 in 2000 to Palo Alto to establish a parking permit program in College Terrace.
Residents of that neighborhood say that now is the time to spend the money.
"We now find ourselves impacted negatively almost every day because our neighborhood is used as a free parking lot by students and staff," Dartmouth Street residents Solon and Diane Finkelstein wrote in an e-mail last week to the Council.
"This issue needs attention now," they concluded.
The topic will be raised at Monday night's council meeting. Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto and Councilmen Bern Beecham and Peter Drekmeier submitted a colleagues' memo to initiate a parking-permit program in College Terrace.
Stanford's successful efforts have had an "unintended consequence" on the adjacent College Terrace neighborhood in Palo Alto, Beecham said.
"It's much more convenient for Stanford users to park in College Terrace and either walk or bicycle or catch the Marguerite (Stanford's free shuttle)," he continued.
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.
"Sometimes we have to park a few blocks down or on the next street, and that can be a little obnoxious from a residential standpoint," Elina said.
And Thursday morning, a plumber coming to work on their house ran into a problem other than leaky pipes.
"He couldn't find any parking at all. We actually had to pull out on the street so he could park in our driveway," Elina said.
But they'd rather continue to walk a few blocks to their cars than purchase permits for their own neighborhood.
"If it costs money, I would rather deal with the parking problem," Elina said.
Beecham said the goal would be to have a "revenue neutral" parking program that would pay for itself in terms of the administrative costs of printing permits and enforcing them.
If approved Monday night, the colleagues' memo would prompt staff to begin working with College Terrace neighbors on an agreeable solution.