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Is it allowed to extend your concrete driveway to double the normal size

Original post made by resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Aug 10, 2009

I can see adding maybe five feet, but there are some residents who are doubling the size of their driveways with concrete. Do you have to get a permit to do this?

Comments (15)

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 10, 2009 at 4:11 pm

The city has specific a specific non-permeable surface ratio allowed for front yards. I don't know the number off of my head, but there is a limit to how much concrete can be laid down (including walkways and patio). Obviously the actual size allowed will vary from lot to lot.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 10, 2009 at 5:23 pm

Our next door neighbors paved literally their whole yard except for a few bushes.


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Posted by Annie
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 10, 2009 at 5:24 pm

I like the idea of people extending their driveways so they can keep the streets clear. However, extensive concrete does look bad for a neighborhood home. Many people lay walkway materials instead of concrete so it is easier on the eyes yet still works as a place to park the car.


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Posted by charles
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 10, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I believe that you must retain 40% of your lot in permeable materials or soil. Check with Judy Glaes at judy.glaes@cityofpaloalto.org for the word. Maybe (or maybe not!!) the city might crack down on those who don't meet that requirement.


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Posted by all is not what it seems
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 10, 2009 at 10:45 pm

However, they changed the definition of "permeable" so that the drive can still be permeable if made from certain materials. Sort of defeats part of the object of the ordnance.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 11, 2009 at 1:37 am

Actually the point of the ordinance is to ensure that storm water from your home (and your roof) drains and soaks into the ground on your property - as opposed to draining from your yard and into the storm drain system.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 11, 2009 at 5:08 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

The guy who invented Round Table did a major portion of his front lawn with masonry with grass voids - great for the occasional overflow parking.


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Posted by Jenny
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 11, 2009 at 10:30 am

40% of your property must remain permeable. I believe grasscrete or similar blocks are considered permeable. I'd check with the City before widening your driveway.

Having said that there are houses in my neighborhood who have paved over their entire front yards, and turned them into parking lots for as many as six cars and trucks. There does not seem to be any code enforcement, so I guess you could take a chance.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 8:48 am

Jenny, I don't want to do that myself. But I think it is a problem in changing the beauty of our streets. Also, more concrete is bad for the environment. Turning your driveway into a parking lot definitely changes the neighborhood. Seems like the big problem is that our city doesn't enforce the codes.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 12, 2009 at 11:56 am

"there are houses in my neighborhood who have paved over their entire front yards, and turned them into parking lots for as many as six cars and trucks. There does not seem to be any code enforcement..."

Actually, the city code prohibits parking on grass or dirt.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 12, 2009 at 7:05 pm

Paul, do you know the rest of the code? Is it OK to double the size of your driveway with concrete (or asphalt)? Is it really Ok to park lots of cars in front of your house? Guess I'll try to find that out. Anyone know if the city enforces these codes?


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Posted by Jenny
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2009 at 9:46 am

Resident: Due to City's cutbacks there is only one Code Enforement Officer. Since there are many code violations including paving over front yards for parking lots, one code enforcement office is greatly overextended.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2009 at 4:22 pm

Jenny, sounds like a neighbor has to make complaints and then maybe the code enforcement officer might do something. Sounds very iffy. What about a neighborhood that asks for a special additional code. (For example of such an add-on, I think some neighborhoods a while back added on a requirement that no second stories could be built. They had to get a certain number of the neighbors to agree before it could be put into effect.) This would make it clear to people up front that they can't put in double size concrete driveways. Anyone have suggestions?


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Posted by Jenny
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2009 at 7:40 am

"What about a neighborhood that asks for a special additional code." First of all this is only done for "second story overlay", and requires a petition with 80% of the neighborhood signing it.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2009 at 9:02 am

Thanks, Jenny. I don't want to be the bad guy who calls up code enforcement on the neighbors who have already doubled their concrete driveways. I just don't want anymore neighbors to do that. This wouldn't be a problem if the city would just enforce its codes.


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