Town Square

On Deadline blog: Jim Keene feels the pain of spillover parking, or at least knows its impacts

Original post made by Jay Thorwaldson, editor emeritus, on Jan 24, 2013

City Manager James Keene feels the pain of "spillover" (or "overflow") parking from downtown Palo Alto.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 24, 2013 at 10:00 am


All this has been said in editorials and opinion pieces before.

Why are we (or "they") not discussing making the parking we have more user friendly? Why can't we have pay per hour machines in all city lots? Why can't we have metered parking? Are parking meters that unsightly?

I often need to park in downtown Redwood City. The meters are 25c per hour! I can always find somewhere to park close to where I need to go. I can feed the meter with as much money as I need to park and usually put in extra just to be sure!

Parking in Palo Alto is unnecessarily difficult. It does cause me problems because I frequently need to spend longer than 3 hours and finding the right parking lot with a meter is something that I find frustrating so what must it be like for someone from out of town?

It is no wonder people are willing to park and walk a couple of blocks when the system itself is broken. Fixing the broken system would be an easy fix. Then when that is up and running successfully it might be worth seeing how bad the problem is and then looking for a different approach. In the meantime, put pay per hour machines in all city lots and see what happens!

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Posted by Wayne Martin
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm


Here are some questions I would like to see answered on the City’s web-site—

Parking Structures

What exactly is the Downtown Parking Assessment District?
Why does this entity have the obligation of paying off the bonds for the construction of the parking structures that it agreed to pay for, and the City get to charge users of the structures?
Why isn’t the Parking Assessment District in charge of the structures?
How much is left to pay off on each of the District’s parking structures?
Can the City legally pay off the District’s obligations for these structures?
Can these structures be enlarged—via additional floors?
What would it take to outsource the management of these structures to a professional entity that would be tasked to manage these structures better than they have been in the past?


What legal authority does the City have to limit future growth in the downtown area?
Can the City legally require any future development in the downtown to provide parking outside the downtown area—moving motorists to/from downtown via shuttles?
Can the City use its Eminent Domain rights to seize residential properties to provide parking space for future business to locate in Palo Alto, or to expand here?


Does the City use simulation software to model growth, and related traffic, in the downtown area?
Does the City have any idea what the impact would be on parking if it created a neighborhood parking permit program?
Has the City modeled its parking structures with software—to determine the effect of installing hourly parking meters?
Has the City used any technology (such as real-time monitoring the number of cars in a parking structures) to help visitors know which structures have free space (such as a Smartphone App)?

Wonder if City Manager James Keene can answer these questions?

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Posted by paly parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 24, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Wayne - those are all good questions. There is one really simple problem though - employees will not pay to use a parking structure if neighborhood parking is free.