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Analysis: City scrambles for residential parking solutions

Original post made on Oct 4, 2013

Faced with massive pressure from residents and the City Council on parking shortages in residential areas, city planners have been working on a wide range of solutions, including new garages; valet parking at existing garages; elimination from the Municipal Code of parking exemptions for developers and a Residential Parking Permit Program (RPPP).

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 4, 2013, 9:56 AM

Comments (32)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Don't line Chop Keenan's pockets with my tax dollars.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2013 at 10:34 am

The wildly wealthy Mr. Keenan and his developer buddies should fund a parking garage for their own tenants and their employees and customers. The city has done enough to subsidize their opulent lifestyles. Mr. Popp, you and the downtown businesses are asking the wrong group to solve your problem. Get together as a group and put some united pressure on your landlords. A handful of developers own a lot of the properties downtown. They should adequately park their properties.

The city has other expensive projects that are higher priorities.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2013 at 10:57 am

Nowhere here does it seem to cover the need for parking. All it seems to do is try to get people to park elsewhere. Where is the paid all day parking for occasional use? Until you get that, you are not going to get an improvement.


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Posted by Society
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2013 at 11:05 am

The intruders??

OK, not comimg any more to conduct my business/spend time in PA


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 4, 2013 at 11:06 am

Developers think residents should be forced to use their driveway and garage to park cars so that more parking is available for businesses ...

Better yet developers who built buildings with inadequate parking should be required to build additional parking or taxed. They shouldn't be allowed to sell what doesn't belong to them.


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Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 4, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Radical suggestion:


How about designating one garage for workers and change the hourly limits so they cover a full workday?

How about letting residents charge for parking in our front yards since our water bills are so ridiculously high?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by RPPP won't cause businesses to leave Palo Alto
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 4, 2013 at 12:45 pm

The tech and office businesses located in Palo Alto won't leave, a PA address is WAY too valuable and downtown is a fun place to work. And residents didn't cause the parking problem, businesses and developers that don't provide realistic, adequate parking caused the problem.


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Posted by Palo-Alto-Is-About-Making-The-Wealthy-Wealthier
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2013 at 12:57 pm

The City is using hundreds of millions of public land to allow a couple hundre very wealthy Palo Altans, and non-residents, to park their airplanes at the Palo Alto airport. So, why shouldn't the Council be inclined to spend hundreds of millions of tax payer dollars to help those same airplane owners park their cars, and their workers cars, in the downtown area?


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Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm

Speaking of the airport, the REGULAR late night flights after mid-night, at 1:30 EVERY night and as late as 3AM are quite annoying.

Maybe the city can subsidize residents' sleeping pills.


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Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Where do you suppose Architect Randy Popp's employees park?


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Posted by Clancy of the Overflow
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Since the reason so many non-residents park in residential parking areas is the overdevelopment of downtown and surrounding areas, let the developers responsible pay to construct free parking for non-residents who work in that area.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steve Raney
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I wonder if there is something better than RPPP? Something that allows more people to park. Something that generates money for impacted residents. Something that reduces the need to build more parking structures with taxpayer dollars. Something that reduces neighborhood traffic (hunting for parking spaces is often 30% of the traffic load).

Here's the brainstorm: Web Link


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:31 pm

"The intruders into the neighborhood...."
Poor choice of words, but not surprising given the source. Intruder implies that these are criminals or people not allowed into the neighborhood. At the present time, they are not in violation of any laws.

Why is he doing the survey at 6am? Won't that only get residents?
People complain about offices that are under parked, what about homes that are under parked?..


 +   Like this comment
Posted by any compromise here?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm

"This week, an alternative, business-favorable solution...The number of designated spaces a household would get would be the number of adults in the home who own a car minus the number of parking spaces on the property (the garage or, presumably, the driveway).

Although the way of allocating permits is a joke, the concept has merit. One side of the street is open and the other is RPPP. Residents can park on both sides so there should always be spaces on the RPPP side.
Unless, of course, the purpose behind RPPP is to get rid of non-resident parking altogether.


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Posted by John Arajums
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 4, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I'm new to Professorville and Palo Alto for that matter. I don't know anything other than numerous cars parking around my house. I don't have a problem competing for parking spaces for I have enough parking in my garage for both of my cars. This begs the question as to why Mr. Alsman is so angry as he has enough parking for all three of his cars in his carport? Additionally, Mr. Alsman's house is for sale and I can only assume that he is moving to a neighborhood that does not border a highly active business district resolving his personal dilemma.


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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Any compromise-- well, when you have the weekly labeling people engaged in legal activity intruders one has to wonder what the residents ( and the weekly! Who always waits to see which way the wind is blowing before slanting astory) really want


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Oct 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm

Also on Sept. 26, "dozens attended a meeting at City Hall during which city staff members unveiled their first stab at a permit program that could be a model not just for downtown but throughout the city."

There were two meetings. One on Sept. 24th for Forest Avenue north downtown residents and one on September 26th for Forest Avenue south downtown residents. There were two meetings due to the limited number of seats available in the city council chambers.

I personally think there shouldn't be downtown colored zones. The whole area should be two hours spots and all-day parking for permit holders. Effectively one colored zone from Menlo Park border to Embarcadero and from Alma to Middlefield or Guinda. The downtown core (Lytton to Hamilton and Alma to Webster) should be all metered spots including all garage spots.




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Posted by Randy Popp
a resident of Monroe Park
on Oct 4, 2013 at 5:58 pm

@John -
I work in the old Trolley Barn on High Street. We have 4 on-site spaces and all who work for me park off-street including the use of a 5th space in front of our curb. We shuffle cars all day to make this work but feel it is the 'right' thing for us to do. My point is simply that Palo Alto should not bear the burden of Cal Train commuters who skirt the cost of a monthly pass and instead park all day on our streets. Cal Train needs to develop a solution for it's riders and Palo Alto needs a solution for it's visitors and businesses. In the interim, having limited time parking should help alleviate the problems my block struggles with and I hope it will do the same for others. I am so glad to see progress happening and limits being put in place. Appreciation for all the volunteers like Neilson who are making such a diference.


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Posted by Joe Giraffe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 4, 2013 at 7:40 pm

Seems like the residential areas are the victims of overdevelopment downtown so I think something should be done for them - some sort of permit system I suppose.

But I don't favor creating more parking garages. ESPECIALLY if the city would raise property taxes to pay for them. What a bogus idea!

For me, and I suspect lots of residents, the downtown is not a very attractive place, so I don't go there very often. For me, the real problem is all the traffic caused by the overdevelopment. Increasing parking areas will just make that worse, won't it? We should leave bad enough alone and if parking is onerous enough for those who go downtown, maybe they will find someplace else to go, or some other way to get downtown other than clogging all the streets.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Julian
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 5, 2013 at 11:45 am

The absurdly high rents on University obviously haven't driven out any business. Paid parking won't either. Anymore than it has in San Francisco or Oakland.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fernando Pereira
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 5, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Several of the earlier comments suggest misconceptions about the DTN parking situation and its impacts:

- Neilson and collaborators measure parking at 6am to set a baseline for a proper comparison with peak congestion middle of the day.
- The business group who proposed (number of adults - parking spaces on property) for residential permits conveniently ignores several of the problems of parking congestion, all of which I have experienced in 18 months of residing on Bryant Street:
* residents are unable to park a car temporarily on their block when they have a special need (family member suffering from temporary impairment, carrying a large package)
* delivery and service vehicles are not able to park close enough
* streets narrowed by full-on two-side parking become dangerously narrow, and visibility suffers, especially at intersections
- We own another townhouse on one of the densest parts of historic downtown Philadelphia, close to two busy commercial hubs, South Street and Old City, and without much on-property parking given nature of the neighborhood. There is a residential permit system, with time restrictions to non-residents that is much simpler than what is being proposed here but works well, partly because there is enough paid off-street (commercial) parking in the area and public transportation for workers at local businesses.
- A long-term parking solution for downtown needs to get away from trying to fit too many cars into two few spaces and nudge commuters toward more space and cost-efficient solutions, such as a combination of remote dense parking and parking shuttles.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anony
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2013 at 3:21 am

Given the parking problems, Maybe Neilson Buchanan shouldn't have moved here. I get tired of hearing people say that they bought a house adjacent to downtown and were surprised that there was a parking problem. It's like moving to a neighborhood near an airport and complaining about the planes on the flight path. Realtors should do a better job informing people like Neilson about the issues in the neighborhood. I don't have much sympathy for people who don't do their homework.

(I'm hoping the censors at Palo Alto Online don't delete my comments. I realize that I'm advocating a bill that is different from that of the Weekly, but please consider having a diversity of viewpoints.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by anony
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2013 at 3:23 am

I meant position not "bill" in that last posting.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ndnorth
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2013 at 5:22 am

We, the people who bought houses near the downtown area know the following:
the problem became far worst more recently and it will be even worse given that new structures planned for downtown will not have adequate
parking space for its employees. Add to this the talk of more entertaining ventures for downtown and you will have a situation that none of us could anticipate when we bought our houses.

The (un)fair parking group doesn't really want any resident parking at all. Besides the impossibility of controlling access to residents' parking spaces they are laboring under the fantasy that residents could be forbidden to park in their own neighborhood (if they have parking on their property) so as to leave spaces for the out-of-towners.

Caltrain parking lot fills up completely early in the morning.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by barron park resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 6, 2013 at 3:32 pm

The answer seems so eas: build more parking lots and require all new buildings to meet /exceed the expected needs for parking. Don't think people will be using public transit soon.. its not going to happen. Public transit is still sparse and unreliable.

Major cities with lots of traffic seem to realize they need large parking lots. I don't mind the traffic, but I expect to be able to park once a reach a location.

San Fransicso, Los Angles, NYC ... once you get to the destination, at least there is parking- it may not be free but it exists. In Palo Alto I can drive around California ave or University for quite a while, and then just give up. Forget Happy Donuns, Celia on El Camino.. they basically have "5" parking spaces.... This problem happens all over palo alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by no RPPP
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 6, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Please do not punish residents by forcing them to buy permits. This is something that the people who work downtown should have provided for the --by their employers or the developers who keep building without regard to parking needs. none of this mess is the fault of the Palo Alto residents. Fault lies on the city council who allowed developers to overbuild without providing additional parking or street and road improvements.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Janet L
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 7, 2013 at 10:33 am

"Where is the paid all day parking for occasional use? Until you get that, you are not going to get an improvement."

Here, here! Ten years ago I worked on University Avenue and drove every day. It took *months* to get a monthly parking pass so I parked in Downtown North and walked. If I still worked downtown now, I would ride my bike and free up a parking space.

But what would I do on an odd day where I wasn't healthy enough to ride to work or the weather is really bad or I have somewhere I need to drive to after work? Where would I park then? If I have to buy a monthly pass anyway, why not just drive every day?


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Posted by JA3+
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 10:44 am

Under-parked developments in downtown Palo Alto should privately fund the full cost and expense of any and all parking garages necessary to adequately site all employees, guests, and invitees.

In a similar vein, CalTrain should fund the full cost and expense of any and all parking garages necessary to adequately park any and all riders.

No use of public funds here.


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Posted by JRL
a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 7, 2013 at 11:13 am

The more I read in this article the more it amazes me.

We have the author of the article declaring people who park on streets in a neighborhood they don't live in "intruders."

We have an architect who doesn't provide parking for himself or visitors complaining that there's no street parking available.

We have complaints that people riding public transit vs driving long distances having the audacity to park in neighborhoods near the station whose parking lot fills daily.

We have residents who want their neighborhood streets free of parked cars, even if they have off-street parking (as well they should).



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Posted by BDH
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 7, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Building more parking lots/garages won't help a bit, because of what's known as latent/induced demand. Initially things will get better, but the newly added capacity is soon maxed out by more people encouraged by the higher capacity. Before long parking is just as difficult as it was before, only now we have more traffic congestion, and parking garages replacing businesses, homes, and parks.

The solution is to manage the demand for parking, not the supply. Make it easier for people to get around without having to rely on a car: build more bike lanes and bike share stations, add capacity to bus routes, and make neighborhoods safer to walk in. This does NOT mean forcing people out of their cars, but rather making it easier for those who already would rather ditch the car to do so.

It is no coincidence that the most walkable and bikable neighborhoods in SF and Oakland are also the ones where business is booming. Let's follow their example, not turn our beautiful downtown into a parking crater devoid of street life.


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Posted by agree with BDH
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 7, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Berkeley and SF deliberately limit #parking spaces to encourage visitors to use alternative forms of transportation; PA could do this as well. This would require downtown and CA Ave business adopting practices similar to Stanford's–i.e. providing workers with CalTrain and VTA passes, giving credits for carpooling or getting to work without driving. Perhaps the City of PA could provide some incentives to businesses who support their workers in this way?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by citizen power!
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Neilson and Eric,
Please come to South Palo Alto with your observations, too! El Camino Way is a parking nightmare. Even the vacant businesses have full parking lots every day and there is usually no street parking to be had. The road is narrow and lots of kids take their bikes through there to school. I can't count how many near misses I've had with kids swerving out from between parked cars, or just the temporary vision loss of the light patterns there -shadow to bright light suddenly - and not seeing bikes in the shade. Where are all these cars coming from? Even the Goodwill is often fully parked at night, when it's clearly not open for business.

Come over to Maybell, too, where we have very little parking capacity, and the City wants to put in a major high-density development in our residential neighborhood, while also taking away the only parking by the existing Arastradero Park Apartments and most of the parking on Clemo. The easy parking nearby is in front of Juana Briones Park and the "Orthopedically-Handicapped" wing of Juana Briones Elementary School. Parking waxes and wanes throughout the day, so the kind of observations you are making would really help here, too. Neighbors on Georgia - which gets treated like the back entrance of Gunn - have issues about the parking, too.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Juno
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Instead of a building a new parking garage, lots of prime parking spaces in downtown could be freed up if the City led by example and stopped providing free parking to City staff, substituting free Caltrain and VTA passes and maybe some good strong car-pooling incentives.
Supposedly most staff follow a 7:30 am to 5:30 pm schedule most weekdays (Ha, ha, joke on the ripped-off Palo Alto residents. My observation is that only a few staff work during all these prescribed 9/80 hours. A given department will have one staff person to cover the hours, but the rest are not there.


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