A gift to downtown shoppers: Relaxed parking regulations

Extended parking time encourages shoppers to visit downtown Palo Alto

In the spirit of holiday goodwill, the City of Palo Alto will temporarily relax restrictions in city parking garages to give visitors more time in Palo Alto's downtown shopping district. (See the downtown Palo Alto parking map)

From Nov. 15 through Jan. 1, shoppers will be allowed to park for up to four hours for free in certain garages.

"The holiday season is critical to our merchants in downtown Palo Alto," said Paul Wright, interim executive director of the Palo Alto Downtown Business and Professional Association.

"Your support not only helps your local businesses, it keeps your sales tax dollars in Palo Alto."

Starting Monday (Nov. 15), the garages at Alma/High Street (Garage R), Bryant/Lytton (Garage S/L), the Civic Center (Garage CC), Cowper/Webster (Garage WC) and Ramona/University (Garage B) will all offer four hours of free parking, excepting designated permit spaces. Anyone looking to stay for the full day can still purchase an all-day parking permit at any of the "Pay and Stay" permit machines located at each of the garages.

"Extending the hours in the downtown parking garages to four hours during the holiday season affords customers the opportunity to linger in downtown Palo Alto, to enjoy the unique retail and hospitality experience," said Paula Sandas, CEO/president of the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce.

"All of our garages are within a block of University Avenue, conveniently located throughout the entire downtown shopping district."

Although the parking garages will briefly change their policies, the new regulations will not extend to street parking restrictions. Visitors will still be able to park within marked zones for two free hours, and all downtown color zone regulations will continue to be strictly enforced. No parking signs or permit-only parking zones will still apply.

Between extended time limits in parking garages and available street parking, the downtown area is open for all holiday guests.

"We want to encourage visitors to come to Palo Alto to shop, dine, do their errands and enjoy the festive atmosphere in downtown during the holiday season," said Thomas Fehrenbach, the City's new economic development manager.

"It's also a great way to remind folks that tend to circle the surface lots and streets looking for parking that there's often availability in our many downtown garages."

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Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Not much of a gift to me. No shopping that I use in downtown Palo Alto.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2010 at 4:22 am

A few years ago, I had a simple hair cut appointment (trim) in downtown Palo Alto. I was on time for my appointment, but the hairdresser was running behind and I had to wait a long time.
After having my hair trimmed (no shampoo or blow dry), I paid a SHOCKING price for a simple straight across trim, and then generously tipped the hairdresser.

While still in shock from the price I had just paid, I walked up to my car to see a traffic officer writing a ticket for my expired meter. I tried to explain, but she was unforgiving.

I wrote a check for the ticket on the spot and placed it into the envelope which was included with the ticket. I had a stamp in my wallet, and there was a post box within a few feet of my car. I walked over and mailed the check within minutes of receiving it.

Since then, I have never shopped or eaten in Palo Alto.
I shop and get my hair cut in Mountain View (saves hundreds of dollars a year).

The city may think they are making money from issuing parking violations, but they have lost revenue from me (at least).

I just heard that a new employee of a store on University received two traffic violations in the first two weeks of her new job. This was two days pay for her. She had recently been transferred to Palo Alto from another city. She does not want to work in Palo Alto because of this hassle with parking. At the time of her transfer, she was unfamiliar where to park. She is looking for another job.

I know that services and food costs more in Palo Alto since the rents are so high to the tenants of these shops.

If you want people to shop here, tell the landlords (long time property owners) to lower their rents, so businesses can lower their prices to customers (in this recession).

As for parking violations for downtown customers or new workers...

Shop and work where it is cheaper, and there is no parking time limit.

Like this comment
Posted by parking permits
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 13, 2010 at 9:49 am

Employers can buy parking permits so their employees can park in the reserved lots. Street parking should be for customers only. And store owners want customers to rotate so they get more sales.

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 13, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Resident -

Where are the parking meters in Palo Alto? I don't think I have ever seen any in the 15 years I've lived here.

As far as the new employee not knowing where to park, the garages and street parking are clearly marked as far as the time you can park in one spot. A new employee could simply ask a co-worker for advice on where else to park.

And employers should either provide parking, parking passes or public transportation $$ for their employees.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Anyone parked in Redwood city lately? The parking meters are 25c per hour, with less times available for nickels and dimes, and no limit.

Not sure of the theory behind it, but seems good to me.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 14, 2010 at 5:02 am

To Palo Alto Mom -

I have lived here 53 years. Maybe it was not a parking meter, but a chalk mark? I really think I remember that it was a meter, and then a meter maid came by and issued a ticket with a preaddressed envelope.

This is a conversation between two other posters (from an old thread) on funding the police building.
Posted by John, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, on Apr 9, 2008 at 7:46 am

Long Time Resident: Palo Alto had parking meters Downtown at one time, they were ugly, and the downtown merchants complained they discouraged people from using downtown for shopping. Also, it proved uneconomical as they had to be repaired, and someone had to be employed collecting the money from the meters. Much cheaper and more efficient having a Community Service Officer give parking tickets. Now you could increase the fines to raise money.

I will call this young girl and tell her about having her employer get her a parking sticker. She was parked in a back lot. She needs to be there to close the store, so she works late.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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