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Town Square

Palo Alto, Choked By Famously Free Parking, May Consider Pricing the Curb

Original post made by should parking be tax-subsidized?, Downtown North, on Jul 30, 2012

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Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm

A big part of the problem in Palo Alto is employee parking. The solutions there are about managing supply and making alternatives more convenient and cost-effective than driving, not just about adding meters to the street.

Parking permits for employees in parking structures are cumbersome and expensive, and right now businesses can't even subsidize these spaces for employees. Once you invest in a parking permit, there is no incentive to take transit, even though downtown Palo Alto is served by Caltrain, VTA, and shuttles. Plus, small companies *can't* subsidize Caltrain for employees - Caltrain sells GO passes only to big companies. So employees seeking parking flock to neighborhood streets. That's what the current system encourages them to do.

Palo Alto could do a much better job at refining the incentives for employees so they get there without driving where possible and use parking structures when they drive.

A new parking space in downtown Palo Alto costs more than $150,000. It would be better to be able to avoid that expense by managing the parking supply better.