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Save the Crossing Guards: Charge for Highschool Parking

Original post made by Alex Green, Midtown, on May 16, 2010

I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong, but do Palo Alto high schools really provide free parking for students who drive to school? How can we afford to support this in such a tight budget climate and in a community that talks about preserving the environment and "walkable neighborhoods". High-schoolers who take the bus pay roughly $200/year for school transportation, not to mention the inconvenience and time required. Yet if we actually do provide free parking, we are essentially subsidizing the driving habit of kids with cars by providing free student parking. That's a mixed message.

If a kid is lucky enough to afford a car, they can afford to take responsibility for parking it. In very gross terms, if 1,000 students park on our high-school campuses each year, and if the charge is $200/year for a student parking permit, the city has $200,000 to help offset the cost of the Crossing Guard program. Even if parking enforcement takes half of that gross income, the parking permit program still sends a message to the community that we are a city that acts to support alternative transportation rather than just talking about it.

Driving is a privilege not a right. In tight budget times, when you are choosing between funding critical services like libraries and child safety programs such as the Crossing Guards, it makes sense to put free student parking on the chopping block. Let's put our money where our mouth is in terms of supporting walkable neighborhoods instead of losing money by supporting more driving for teens.

Comments (31)

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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I'm not sure about Paly, but, Gunn charges $125 for a yearly permit, available only to Juniors and Seniors. Cars without permits get ticketed. See:

Web Link


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Posted by double up
a resident of Downtown North
on May 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm

If they double the parking fee to $250/year, is that enough to pay for crossing guards, at least around elementary schools?


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Paly charges for student parking permits for juniors and seniors. Visitors have to sign in and get a parking permit from the office or their cars will be ticketed. I am not sure what the money is used for at Paly, but at Gunn there are reduced VTA tickets available to those who use the 88 bus and this is funded by parking permits.

Not sure if it is still the case, but the money has also been used for incentives to get kids using their bikes and for upgrading bike racks.


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Posted by residenet
a resident of Barron Park
on May 16, 2010 at 4:16 pm

to original poster,
I agree it would be great to keep and even increase crossing guards.

However you are looking to the wrong group to blame on this problem. High school kids are not causing the problems, they are primarily the victims of the commuting issues which adults have created. These current high schoolers have probably been the victims through out their school years in Palo Alto.

FYI- Hundreds of high school kids bike to their schools daily ( I know Gunn seems to average over 300/day)
I am amazed by the number of kids I see biking to local school on a daily basis. IF there are some kids who need to drive, its usually because they are not in an area where it is safe enough to bike or walk. Most kids realize biking is the fastest transport to neighbor hood schools.


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Posted by Hoover parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 16, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I second that. I think every one should pay for parking at Palo Alto high School. I live at kellogg Avenue and live a hell every early weekday morning when hundreds of cars take on Kellogg to go to PAHS. They wait to cross Alma and proceed all the way to the right lane so to turn right on Churchill. The problem is the the right lane on Alma is already packed with other drivers also wanting to turn right at churchill Avenue. If I am behind one of this kids takes a lot to get to Alma. I have to drive and drop off to Hoover Elementary on Charleston Road (across town). This every weekday madness happen between 7:20AM to about 7:50AM I called the 30 minutes of rush, and I am sure the majority of the cars driving on kellogg to get to Alma are the High School kids. If anybody reply to me I will not reply to you. I am just relating a FACT. Again, Hoover starts at 8AM and I have to bring my 2 elementary kids there and drop them off in the designated drop off zone and come back.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 16, 2010 at 11:28 pm

Hoover parent.

You have chosen to send your children across town to school. This is your choice.

We have two high schools and most of high school kids have to get across town a couple of miles to get to school. Many walk and ride bikes and many use the shuttles or bus. Many are driven by parents, just like you, and some do drive themselves. Those that drive themselves do pay for a parking permit.

You could have gone to a neighborhood school where you could walk or even bike to school. Many of the kids at high school ride their bikes nearly 3 miles to and from school. You made your choice, now don't complain about the traffic.
They have just as much right as you do to drive to school.


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Posted by One parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 17, 2010 at 7:43 am

Parent, I agree with you. Hoover parent is adding to the problem Paly students have in getting to their school and should take a different route. And Hoover Parent, given your attitude toward teen drivers, I hope your children will be biking to high school. The crossing guard question is a matter of safety and we need them. However, funds from high school parking are already used, at Gunn anyway, to subsidize the bus passes used by those who take the bus. Maybe we need a big tax on folks who choose to drive their kids across town to a boutique school.


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Posted by Herbert Hoover
a resident of Stanford
on May 17, 2010 at 7:58 am

"Please new Paly Principal do whatever you can to charge the brats a parking fee for their new BMW in the parking lot."

What a rude comment. Students are already charged a parking fee at Paly.
Why are they "brats"?
Some people in Palo Alto!!!


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 17, 2010 at 8:42 am

Hoover Parent -

Paly students are not brats and I don't know a single one with a new BMW. Most of the kids who drive are using hand-me-down minivans and wagons. Most kids walk or bike.

You chose to send your kids Hoover and your were aware of the need to drive them, stop complaining about it.

Leave earlier and let your kids play on the playground at Hoover before school.

There are other routes to Hoover besides Alma - there are no other options to Paly except Alma or Embarcadero.


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Posted by Calm down everyone
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 17, 2010 at 8:43 am

Please stop the name calling! We are all mature parents. right?
First and foremost, crossing guards are aboslutely essential for our kids' safety. I propose that we take a look at all the PAUSD administrators. I am always amazed to see so many assistant superintendents and directors in our school district. Lets write to our school board members and inquire about their plan to streamline our administrative costs!!!


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Posted by high school parent
a resident of Barron Park
on May 17, 2010 at 8:56 am

The problem as I see it is that people want crossing guards and other essential city services but don't seem willing to pay for them. Everyone is looking for someone else to pay for these things, when in fact we as residents of PA have to pay for them if we want them.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 17, 2010 at 9:07 am

I think the City realizes that we will not let the crossing guards disappear and expects PAUSD will pay for them.


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Posted by A resident
a resident of Terman Middle School
on May 17, 2010 at 9:45 am

This is a trick by the city to try to reduce something they think people will object so they can later propose new tax to not reducing it. If they propose to cut city employee's salary, for example, people will not agree to pay more tax to restore their salary.


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Posted by Hoover mom is right
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 17, 2010 at 10:16 am

Actually Hoover mom is right - there ARE kids driving BMWs to PALY and that is a fact. The one I see is nice and shiny. I wouldn't mind driving that car!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Herbert Hoover
a resident of Stanford
on May 17, 2010 at 10:34 am

"Actually Hoover mom is right - there ARE kids driving BMWs to PALY and that is a fact."
And so, what is the problem? If a parent gives their child a BMW, is that an issue?


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Posted by nono
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2010 at 10:58 am

Unless the "recover cost" to begin in the heart of the downtown building, there is no way the city can balance the budgets in the coming years. Cutting down the services or raising the fee is not going to work. Everyone should know it by now!


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Posted by RT
a resident of Barron Park
on May 17, 2010 at 11:27 am

I can never understand how people latch on to wanting to tax/set up a fee for one thing that has NOTHING to do with what they want to use the money for.
Increasing a fee for high school parking has NOTHING to do elementary school crossing guards.
Public safety is the responsibility of the City, and school crossing guards are critical to making sure morning drivers rushing to get to work/on their cell phones/texting do not run over our half-asleep children.
I no longer even have children in PAUSD, but it is critical for the City to either set up a specific tax for crossing guards (which I would vote for) or cut another non-public safety nice-to-have.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JustMe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 17, 2010 at 11:50 am

"We are all mature parents. right?"

Unfortunately, that is a VERY unsafe assumption to make. Posters on this board could be anything from kids to grandparents, sterling citizens to drug pushers (or even lower), honest opinions to trouble-makers only out to spark outrage for the fun of it. There are no controls on who can post, no filter, no moderation unless the individual post is obviously offensive. Be careful what you assume of the posters here, it's wide open.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Parking space is an essential component of any activity - if you don't believe me, try to get a building permit without providing adequate parking. It is presumptuous of anyone to declare that someone else is unworthy of driving privilege.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I have an idea
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Like RT I do not "understand how people latch on to wanting to tax/set up a fee for one thing that has NOTHING to do with what they want to use the money for." Why should high school students parking their cars at high school be charged a fee to pay for crossing guards? If this makes sense,why not charge all HP employees who drive to work pay a similar tax? You probably could charge them more anyway.

How about turning Embarcadero or University Ave. into toll roads to collect fees to pay crossing guards? At least that would tax the correct people.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by gunnstudent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 17, 2010 at 4:51 pm

If you did some more research you will find that schools such as Gunn do indeed charge students to pay for a parking ticket, more for a carpool. Also, they don't allow students to get parking permits whether or not they are juniors or seniors, if they live on arastradero or off of arastradero.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

The real question is, where did the crossing guard money go? And if you discourage student parking won't that cause more pedestrian traffic and more parents bringing and fetching?


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 17, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Hoover parent, a resident of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood, 22 hours ago, writes:

"I second that. I think every one should pay for parking at Palo Alto high School."

They already do.

"I live at kellogg Avenue and live a hell every early weekday morning when hundreds of cars take on Kellogg to go to PAHS. They wait to cross Alma and proceed all the way to the right lane so to turn right on Churchill."

You should pick another route. For example, if you go the other way to Embarcadero and down Middlefield, you can avoid Churchill, and, have a right turn on Charleston headed to Hoover.

"... This every weekday madness happen between 7:20AM to about 7:50AM I called the 30 minutes of rush, and I am sure the majority of the cars driving on kellogg to get to Alma are the High School kids. If anybody reply to me I will not reply to you. I am just relating a FACT. Again, Hoover starts at 8AM and I have to bring my 2 elementary kids there and drop them off in the designated drop off zone and come back."

I am struggling to understand why you are a higher priority than anyone else who lives in this town.

"Please new Paly Principal do whatever you can to charge the brats a parking fee for their new BMW in the parking lot."

They already pay. As far as I know, there is no fee for dropping your kids off at Hoover.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Momma in PAUSD
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 17, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Hey all concerned PAUSD moms and dads,

TOMORROW Tuesday, May 18, 6pm (new time), Council Chambers, City Hall, Finance Committee Monday, June 21, 7pm, Council Chambers, City Hall, Budget Review and Public Hearing 250 Hamilton Ave, Palo Alto

Current proposed city budget cuts include eliminating all adult crossing guards city-wide and eliminating the ENTIRE Police Department Traffic Team.
The crossing guards and the traffic team work together to keep the traffic on our school routes safe. Taking away this support is likely to affect the safety of our kids' commute to school.

PAPD is at the top of the agenda on Tuesday, May 18 at 6:00pm so families with children can speak and leave early for early school night bedtimes.

Please bring your bike helmet to differentiate yourself. Leaders will ask us to hold up our bike helmets at the meeting to show our support.

We need to show up in force at our city planning meetings and write a flood of letters. There are two important meetings that we need to attend to show our City Council representatives the importance of these resources to our community. PTA Traffic Safety suggests that we show up with our bike helmets to identify ourselves. You may bring children. PAPD and crossing guard items are first on Tuesday's agenda.

For more information, click here Web Link
Letters to City Council will also make a difference . write to City.Council@cityofpaloalto.org


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Momma in PAUSD
a resident of Fairmeadow
on May 17, 2010 at 9:26 pm

what I meant to post, but my fingers got ahead of my brain...

There are 2 important meetings: one is tomorrow May 18th at 6p and the other is Monday, June 21.

However, since most if not all schools will be out of session on June 21st, we are really relying on parent power complete with bike helmets at tomorrow's meeting!! Please come and show your solidarity and support of our kids and our crossing guards!


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Posted by a different gunn student
a resident of Gunn High School
on May 17, 2010 at 9:54 pm

gunnstudent,

The cost for a carpool parking pass is the same as that for a single parking pass. Quoted from the gunn student handbook "There are two types of permits: carpool and regular. Carpool permits require a total of two occupants inside the vehicle and require proof of possession of a driver's license for one year or more. Carpoolers may park in the carpool lot, which is designated by blue signs. Regular permits allow students to park in the regular lot. Both permits cost $125."

Also, it doesn't matter where you live to get a parking permit, it just matters for when you can get it. Quoted from the gunn student handbook "Parking permits can be purchased in the SAO. Carpoolers have priority during the first week of school, followed by single drivers who live on the other side of El Camino. After that, the remaining permits will be sold until they run out. Upon payment and completion of parking registration, a student will receive a parking sticker which must be hung from the mirror of your car with the number facing out."


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Posted by Jonas
a resident of Barron Park
on May 18, 2010 at 10:06 pm

We need these crossing guards, they provide saftey to our childred and peace of mind knowing they get and go home safe from school. I was at the meeting tonight, and the department really didn't think this through. They have not even discussed with the school district about sharing the cost and other options.


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Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on May 18, 2010 at 10:49 pm

I just had a thought and would like some input on it. Let's assume that the crossing guards are not rehired. No crossing guards paid for. I imagine that some schools, and especially at some intersections, will then solicit rotating parent volunteers to fill in.

What would be the logistical and legal ramifications of this? Uniforms or "deputization", whistles, signs, etc. Differences of opinion over some aspect of driving/stopping between the parental volunteers and other PA citizens.

Perhaps the harbinger or spectre of this will now cause funding to be restored forthwith! :)


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 19, 2010 at 1:35 am

you'll all be glad to hear that the finance committee voted to keep the crossing guards - yay!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Is it just me, or have others noticed that school districts seldom propose cutting travel budgets or sabbaticals or association memberships or spa weekends, it is always something directly under your nose they cut.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ha_farloungtzen
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 22, 2010 at 6:13 pm

If we charged $40,000 for irritating forum posts, that post would have generated $40,000 which could be used to pay for crossing guards.


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