College Terrace wants parking permit system Palo Alto Issues, posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 30, 2007 at 6:47 am
Along with a system of barracades that denies use of public streets to others, the Terracers now want to eliminate stranger parking. Obviously it is time for them to buy back their streets and become a walled, gated community.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jul 30, 2007 at 7:04 am
Yes, Walter, and if you go back historically to the very first placement of barriers, you will see that the ONLY people who benefited were the College Terrace residents on the committee -- who coincidentally ended up on the blocked streets with significantly increased property values as a result. My parents' street, for instance, went from being a nice, relatively quiet street where my sibligs and I used to ride our bikes and play street games to being the thoroughfare for all diverted traffic from Bowdoin.
So now when I go and visit my parents, I will not be able to park near their house? Why do they need parking permits? Seems like overkill. The best thing they could do is gird themselves against the upcoming onslaught of stanford housing with insufficient acess. Permit parking will not help that. Please, more info on this.
Posted by Curious Observer, a resident of Mountain View, on Jul 30, 2007 at 8:34 am Curious Observer is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Why such hostility towards College Terrace?
Walter: Access of public streets is not denied to you. If you want to drive through College Terrace you can. However, depending on where you're going, I'm not sure why you would think College Terrace would provide you with a better transit route.
Instead of blaming the people in the neighborhood, you should look at the source of the problem. If Stanford is doing something that is forcing students and employees to park off-campus then Stanford is the culprit, not the neighborhood.
It's sad to see people so resentful of various neighborhoods in their own town. I suppose the only difference between us and Baghdad is that we don't use car bombs to show our displeasure with our own neighbors.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Jul 30, 2007 at 8:56 am
The barricading of College Terrace was a poor substitute for the more civic solution to congestion - providing a better route elsewhere. A street originally dedicated to the public should not have its usage taken away in equity. It is fatuous to suggest a street is still public when its utility has been killed. Way back when the first barricades went up I suggested fencing you in completely, but no one took me up. A pity.
Posted by Marvin, a resident of the Charleston Gardens neighborhood, on Jul 30, 2007 at 1:03 pm
It would also probably be a good idea to find out how much of the "parking problem" is actually to Stanford employees/students and how much is due to the actual residents of CT.
Also it would help to find out if this desire for permit parking is supported by a majority of CT residents or is just the desire of the elite few in CT.
Also remember, as others have pointed out, the residents of CT homes have increased in value due to their proximity to Stanford. There are pluses and minuses to everything--some residents of CT just want the pluses and use the "it's Stanford's fault" excuse to get favorable treatment, as compared to other city neighborhoods, from the city.
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jul 30, 2007 at 3:23 pm
I moved into CT in 1977. I did so, because I saw that the streets were being blocked off. Before they were blocked, this place was a real zoo, with cut-through traffic to Stanford. NO cars were traveling at 25 mph... I saw 45 mph on a regular basis. Also dead cats. No rational parent would have allowed their kids anywhere near the streets, at least not Oberlin, Harvard and Hanover.
Some dedicated people in this neighborhood decided to make the fight to turn this place into a real neighborhood, one where children actually COULD play in the streets, occasionally. I salute them.
Other neighborhoods have had their streets blocked, notably the one across from Palo Alto High School. The neighborhood north of University tried it, but they, apparently, did not like it. They had their chance. Many neighborhoods in South PA have cul-de-sacs, or curved streets that act like a maze, in otherwords, streets that are not friendly to through traffic. Barron Park has a cozy little situation, because there is no reason to travel through it to get to anywhere else. Crescent Park gets relatively little cut through traffic, except for the bridge over SF creek. Let me put it simply, many neighborhoods in Palo Alto are already protected, and those that wish to be protected need to demand as much, then not turn their back on it.
College Terrace was a student ghetto for many years. Mrs. Stanford sold that piece of land to a subdivider in order to have worker housing for her university, especially during initial construction phases. Over time, the students moved in as the workers moved out. When I first looked at it in the late 70s, there were very few children here...either that or they did not dare wander near the streets, due to speeding traffic in high volume. After I moved in (post street blockage), families began to to move in, or form from within. Let me be specific: KIDS started to happen, slowly at first, then more and more. As I write this, I am listening to kids playing in the street and front yards...a musical sound to my ears. I like kids and families. I also like the mix of people in CT, many of whom do not have kids.
Now to the subject of parking permits. I think Stanford should give free permits to their own students and staff. That would alleviate the problem, I think. If it does not, then I would favor parking permits for the entire neighborhood. Yes, I would pay, even though I am not particularly impacted by the Stanford cheaters. I have been impacted by some Research Park cheaters (they like our shady streets over their own ample parking lots, because the paint on their expensive cars is preserved by the shade)... but I have been able to deal with them, on my street, by going to the the firms that border California Street (the problems were solved).
I support Stanford, SRP, CT, PA. I like to think that I look at the larger picture, at least in certain contexts. I supported the Mayfield Playing Fields, and the housing element that will join CT in the next decade, along with the additional development rights of SRC.
I don't think College Terrace is being particularly selfish, considering its exposure to traffic, and its history. We have been able to fashion a neighborhood, similar to other neighborhoods in PA, by being active. I would especially like to thank Kathy Durham of the CT Neighborhood Association for fighting the good fight. She is an example of the type of gladiators that have been able to craft a neighborhood out of what was once a pass-through traffic corridor.
CT is now a desireble place to live. We should not be criticized for doing the right thing. Please meander through our neighborhood, either on foot, bicycle or car...you WILL be able to get out, unless your IQ is below 50. Please take a moment to shop at JJ&F (great little market, with fantastic service!); Like gardening? ...try Common Ground. CT library is a little nugget. The new Califonia St. farmers market seems to be a success.
I have no official role in College Terrace, and I am not a real estate agent. However, as an individual, I welcome you to our neighborhood. It has been a long struggle, and it continues, but we are happy and proud of what we have achieved, under unfavorable circumstances.
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jul 30, 2007 at 8:12 pm
I think I have offered a better path, as well as better parking. Stanford staff and students should be given free or low cost parking permits to park at Stanford. This is a straight-forward answer to the issue.
Stanford is, indeed, a government in the local environment. I support Stanford, but I think they need to correct this situation.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 30, 2007 at 8:45 pm
I have already asked but not heard back, but how many homes in this neighborhood are rented to groups of students, possibly 6 to a house who all have a car that is parked on the street? I feel sure that part of this parking problem is due to the fact that many of the homes have more cars than they have parking spaces. These are small houses by and large and even if they have increased their living accommodation, they probably haven't increased their offstreet parking. And, I know from experience that students are extremely good at cramming the maximum number of bodies in a home and using garage and living rooms as additional bedrooms whether allowed by the landlord/lease or not.
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jul 30, 2007 at 10:03 pm
It (students/cars) used to be a very big issue. There are still some examples of it, however, it is not a major factor, today, IMO.
Some CT residents, like myself, tend to park on the street in front of their own homes. For instance, I could park my three cars in my driveway (crammed to the max), but I decide to park one or two cars at the curb. If do not, there will still be cars parked in front of my house. I don't know where they come from, but empty parking spots get filled up fast.
If Stanford and SRP take care of their own parking issues, there will be no big complaints from CT.
I think I read that someone said that there is a 72 hour time limit. That may be the law, but the law is not enforced. I had a car parked in front of my place for over a week. I called it in, with license plate number, etc. About a three days later it was tagged. It stayed there for another two weeks. Finally, after another call from me, it was towed. It was a stolen car from the East Bay. Only a fool could trust the 72 hour limit. This technical law is not the answer.
Students are not the major problem. Stanford is the problem.
Posted by Curious Observer, a resident of Mountain View, on Jul 30, 2007 at 10:22 pm Curious Observer is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Having once been a resident of College Terrace, I did not notice any homes rented out to students at least in the part where I lived. I believe there are a few apartments closer to the JJ&F area. The scenario that there are loads students living in homes is unlikely as most of the homes there are very small and even fewer are rentals.
Reading a comment on another thread, it seems the problem is Stanford. They continue to build and expand which brings more people and cars to campus. At the same time, they need to reduce the number of cars coming to the campus. Sounds likes Stanford employees are being pushed to city streets either because of the cost of permits or pressure to reduce the number of cars on campus. I think both the city and Stanford need to look into this
Posted by Curious Observer, a resident of Mountain View, on Jul 30, 2007 at 10:27 pm Curious Observer is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
In response to the 72 hour time limit, we would often have cars parked in front of our home for days. Unless the car had expired tags, the police department was not interested in ticketing or towing the car. So much for the theory of calling the police if there's a problem and someone is breaking the law...it's just not that simple.
Posted by natasha, a resident of the Meadow Park neighborhood, on Jul 31, 2007 at 5:46 am
Craig, my parents live on Columbia street. I grew up there. College Terace was a woderful community nd neighborhood long before now. Unfortunately, the street closures you are so delighted with made my parent's street a passthrough. Before the pass throughs, people knew what they were buying. Now, my parents get the traffice that wends its way from Hanover to Stanford. How was that fair? It rearranged the traffic and impacted different streets. Coumbia used to be a neighborhood where kids played in the street and were safe. Sice the rerouting, cars jam down the street at top speed. How is that fair? Again, College Terrace did not become desireable because of the blocked-off streets. The property values of the people lobbying for blocked streets not coincidentally became the blocked off streets, to the detriment of others.
And now, the Stanford development that some College Terrace people pretended the entire neighborhood wanted in exchange for the soccer fields will also disproportionately impact certain streets in College Terrace. Namely Columbia, the pass-through workhorse of a street.
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jul 31, 2007 at 12:30 pm
I like the traffic calming devices (bumps and circles). Residential streets should be driven at 25 mph or less. These devices help to achieve that goal. I would like to see more of them. If the circles survive the test phase, then they can get some flowers and plants put into them (good volunteer project, btw), thus creating a visual amenity.
When these devices were being considered, I had a discussion with someone who lived on Stanford campus, but who used CT as a quick exit to other parts of town, in otherwards, a cut-through driver. He said that we are purposely degrading our streets. My answer is that we are puposely enhancing our streets, because drivers will now have to slow down to somewhere near the legal limit. It's a neighborhood, now...what's the rush?
I have to disagree with Natasha, in general terms. Before the streets were blocked, simulataneous with Escondido Rd. being blocked off, there was a huge stream of fast traffic cutting through to Stanford, coming from Page Mill/Hanover and El Camino/California Ave. The amount of overall traffic in CT, today, is much less than it was years ago. Yes, Columbia and Princeton get the outlet traffic, but it laregly local (CT). I suppose only actual historical traffic counts would make the case, but neither of those two streets is overwhelmed by traffic. The traffic calming devices are one tool to discourage cut-through traffic, but at least to slow it down. I would like to see all streets in CT have speed bumps.
This is just a theoretical idea, but if local residents had some way of legally crossing the barriers on the end of their street, to get to their home, it would cut down on much of the outlet traffic that affects the current outlet streets, like Columbia.
In the meantime, Stanford should provide affordable parking for all of its staff and students. Otherwise, permits or (better yet, I think), parking meters may well be the answer.
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Jul 31, 2007 at 2:10 pm
I doubt that anybody in CT really wants parking permits, if a better solution can be found.
I am hearing, from this site, that Stanford is limited in trips-per-day. This is a logical disconnect, under the circumstances. Those extra trips (beyond the limit, apparently) are taking place anyway, but they are not counted, because those trips park their cars in CT. Who are we fooling here?
I think Stanford's trips limitation should be abandoned. We don't limit the number of trips into Palo Alto, in fact we try to increase the number of trips by promoting various businesses and functions in town, for instance the cycling race that will be coming here.
Stanford is the engine of economic growth and prosperity in Palo Alto. We should support it, not try to strangle it. Lift the car trip restrictions, then demand that Stanford provide for its own.
This is an example of a social engineering experiment than has gone awry. Get rid of it.
Posted by yet another parent, a member of the Escondido School community, on Jul 31, 2007 at 4:57 pm
I've often wondered how Stanford counts the cars that enter/exit campus to drop students off at Escondido and the child care centers along the periphery of the campus. Does this school traffic movement count towards Stanford's daily quota?
Posted by Curious Observer, a resident of Mountain View, on Jul 31, 2007 at 7:15 pm Curious Observer is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
Craig: You hit the nail on the head. If Stanford's push to reduce trips to the campus is causing this problem in College Terrace then they need to rethink their directive. As I stated earlier, both the city and Stanford need to look into this before going forward with any major changes in College Terrace.
Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Jul 31, 2007 at 7:25 pm
I have definitely seen requests in the PA Weekly, Daily and other places that the "count" is being done over a certain day period and for those days at certain hours, people are requested not to drive across certain intersections.
This type of procedure is keeping the figures artificially low. If the true figure is much higher, then Stanford must pay the consequences. I do agree that they have helped the traffic situation by providing Marguerites which are a help not only to Stanford but also to some PA community residents, but they have to increase their parking along with increasing their facilities.
I personally drive very little through Stanford because I have little need to but I have driven school field trips and taken short cuts through the campus on occasion and I am sure I am not the only one. The problem with Stanford is that it is situated in an area which can not naturally grow in two directions and many people need to drive right through the middle to get to the other side as a matter of course. Little can be done about this so the only really sensible alternative for the University is to provide more parking.
Posted by bob, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 1, 2007 at 10:39 am
The 72 hour limit for parking cars in one spot applies if they are not moved at least 1/4 or 1/2 mile during that period. If they are moved, they can return to that spot with no penalty.
The police dept. has had budget and hence personnel cuts in the past several years, and one of the enforcement sections reduced was that which included enforcing this law. One person who perhaps could have been assigned to this part time is now trying to enforce the leaf blower ban. The squeaky wheel.....!
Posted by Meg Minto, a resident of Menlo Park, on Aug 2, 2007 at 2:54 pm
Need I say this yet again? Stanford by the terms of the General Use Permit (Google it) (agreement - terms can't be changed, I don't think - between the Univ. and the Santa Clara County) cannot add parking spaces and cannot add trips. Stanford cannot do anything except try to persuade people to take public transit and leave their cars at home. Sadly, those cars don't seem to stay at those homes, and some of them park in CT.
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2007 at 3:10 pm
Any agreement can be changed. A general use permit that does not require adequate parking or that attempts to strangle a facility is against public policy and just plain stupid. I don't know why Stanford puts up with the crap they do. Were I them I would leave Palo Alto, incorporate, wall off Palo Alto and have a Stanford connection to 280. We treat Stanford like a rented mule for very little return. Shame on us.
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 2, 2007 at 4:05 pm
I agree with your basic take on the situation, except for one thing: Stanford is a willing accomplice in this parking situation. It knows that 'green' is the political currency of Palo Alto, AND it (Stanford) believes in green. From Stanford's point of view, why fight the tide, when it is more useful to support it? Just agree to "no more trips", give a pittance to PA for parking mitigation in CT, pretend that everything is OK, ignore the reality of actual trips, etc., then wait for the next use agreement.
I agree with your point that Stanford does not need Palo Alto...it could wall itself off. However, Stanford WANTS to agree with Palo Alto, especially on environmental issues.
If Stanford and Palo Alto demanded that the use permit be revised, it would be revised. However, there is no political will to do it. It is much easier to talk about non-solutions like parking permits.
Posted by get the facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2007 at 12:23 pm
Sorry, but both Craig and Walter have NOT nailed anything and really need to do some research before pontificating about what Stanford/Palo Alto/anyone else "should" do in this case.
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:
(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.
By the way, Walter, Stanford is permitted to build at least 2300 additional parking spaces (not counting the parking for the additional housing on campus). Parking structures are going up all over campus. If additional parking were needed, permits could be applied for.
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.
As for the dark statements about "green being the political currency of Palo Alto", it's irrelevant to this discussion. Yes, the Stanford Open Space Alliance did participate actively in the public process prior to the December 2000 vote, but their focus was on trying to get open space zoning for the foothills. In fact, the City of Palo Alto has NOT been the leader here -- in fact, the Colleagues' Memo that the Council was supposed to discuss last week was about asking the staff to "initiate an assessment of a residential permit parking program in College Terrace and report back the results to Council."
Finally, 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.
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2007 at 1:11 pm
Get the facts,
Oh my, you have really bought into the cause of green.
Fact: The "no new trips" was never a realistic solution, as proven by the "cheaters" that have chosen CT for their cheating. This was known before the ink was dry on the use permit...thus the $100k bribe to accept the deal.
Fact: $100k is nowhere near sufficient to enforce the CT permit system. The PAPD knows a lot more about current city costs that you do.
Fact: We are dealing with human nature here. There will always be those who want to save $200-500 per year by cheating. If you drive them out of CT, they will show up somewhere else.
Fact: Permits will be paid by CT resident, not citations, once the cheaters move to better hunting grounds. If each parking permit costs $100/year, that means that 1000 cars would be covered for one year, by the $100k buyout mitigation by Stanford. There would be enforcement costs way beyond $100k. If the $100k is used to study the issue, the situation is even worse. Palo Alto is NOT an enforcement oriented city. Leaf blowers, 72 hour parking, sit-lie, overnight camping, dogs off leash, bike helmets come to mind. If permit parking is going to be enforced, and administered, it will take some dedicated police officers that do just that. It will be very costly.
Fact: When Palo Alto and Stanford team up to get a state exemption in a general law, it gets action, for instance the deal with Ladoris Cordell.
Fact: Stanford was given two choices: Improved intersections, or "no new trips". It chose the latter, even though it knew that it was a farce.
Posted by Meg Minto, a resident of Menlo Park, on Aug 3, 2007 at 2:19 pm
"By the way, Walter, Stanford is permitted to build at least 2300 additional parking spaces (not counting the parking for the additional housing on campus). Parking structures are going up all over campus. If additional parking were needed, permits could be applied for."
Are these ("permitted to build" and "going up all over campus") facts?
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 3, 2007 at 4:10 pm
I don't know if Stanford has enough convenient parking spaces for its students/staff/workers. If it does, then the solution is very straight-forward: Give each student/staff/worker a low cost (or free) permit so that there is no incentive for cheaters to cheat.
Posted by Get the facts, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 4, 2007 at 2:17 am
Craig -- No, nothing I wrote indicated anything about whether or not I "bought into the cause of green". I was just trying to clarify that it wasn't any Palo Alto greens or "elite" that created the No Net New Commute Trips (NNNCT) as an alternative mitigation for widening intersections on El Camino, Page Mill, Junipero Serra, Embarcadero, Stanford Avenue.
It seems that you disagree with the premise of CEQA, which is of course your right. But before you start making derogatory comments about facts you don't agree with, you should check with a land use lawyer and you will find that any effort to push for "a state exemption in a general law" is NOT going to work with CEQA. And Stanford is certainly not going to do this.
Nor is it realistic to imagine that Stanford will start handing out free parking permits. But if they did, what would happen? A good number of the thousands of Stanford staff and students who now take the train and the Marguerite, or carpool, or take the Dumbarton Express, or bike, would switch back to driving solo.
In a few years the backups on El Camino and Page Mill would be worse than ever. So while there would be more parking spaces available on Stanford Avenue etc, the cut-through traffic your neighborhood experienced in the boom years would be back with a vengeance. Be careful what you wish for.
Posted by Craig Laughton, a resident of the College Terrace neighborhood, on Aug 4, 2007 at 6:12 am
Get the Facts,
I remember some of the debate of the Stanford use permit. There was a lot of discussion by Palo Alto leaders and citizens. Stanford was highly encouraged to adopt "no new trips". It was a green thing to do, even though it is a farce. You, yourself, clearly support it. That is why I call you green. There were some realists back then that predicted what would happen, but they were ignored.
You state as a fact that there are "thousands of Stanford staff and students who now take the train and the Marguerite, or carpool, or take the Dumbarton Express, or bike". What is the source for this "fact"? Please do not include intra-campus or near campus use of Marguerite...I am talking about commutes to Stanford from home.
You further state that those who cuurently use such alternatives to the solo car would go back to solo cars if permits were given out to Stanford students/workers/staff. If incentives were provided, such as an extra $100/month in salary for joining a verified car pool, there might be more, not less, people going non-solo. Stanford's approach, and apprently yours, is to punish people for driving solo. Why not reward them for using alternatives? The carrot instead of the stick? There are many people who take commuter buses/vans as a matter of convenience, even if adequate parking is available...why would they change?
You also previously mentioned that PAPD doesn't know what it is talking about when they estimate a high cost for enforcement of permits. What is the basis of this "fact"?
You seem to ignore the reality of pushing cheaters onto other neighborhoods and streets, if permits are required in CT. There are plenty of nearby neighborhoods that would be affected, especially by the cheaters that jump onto their bicycle after they park. I believe that this so obvious, that it should be considered a fact.
You state "Stanford is permitted to build at least 2300 additional parking spaces (not counting the parking for the additional housing on campus). Parking structures are going up all over campus. If additional parking were needed, permits could be applied for." Clearly additional parking is necessary in order to overcome the CT cheater problem. However, applying for permits, and getting them are possibly two different things. Do you support additional parking at Stanford?
I will submit that it is a fact that if Stanford provided adequate free parking for its own students/workers/staff, we would not have a major problem with cheater parking in CT.