The City of Palo Alto is studying parking downtown in an effort to take pressure off of the nearby Professorville neighborhood, which has become a popular all-day parking area for downtown employees.
Responding to residents' complaints that parkers have damaged cars and cussed at residents, a new parking manager will begin work Monday (March 28) on the issue, and a community meeting to discuss alternatives suggested by the traffic-data consultant is tentatively scheduled for April 26, City Manager James Keene said this week.
The study will also identify additional parking in downtown.
Professorville, which is a National Register Historic District, is bounded by Kingsley and Addison avenues and Cowper and Ramona streets.
In past weeks, Professorville residents have taken their complaints to the City Council, voicing their displeasure over employees of downtown businesses who they say park in the neighborhood to avoid hefty city permit fees and moving their cars from downtown lots every two hours.
As a historic district, many Professorville homes lack driveways, exacerbating the parking problem, according to residents. When street parking is unavailable, residents park blocks away from their own homes, they said.
Ramona Street resident Ken Alsman said a review of downtown parking garages by residents showed that annual $420 parking-permit fees were not being snapped up by downtown employees and that garages had 350 to 400 empty permit-parking spaces.
"If you put in meters that charge $1 per day, people would use the spaces and the city would still get most of its revenue. People choke on $420," he said.
The city made decisions about downtown parking "in good faith long ago. But they don't work now," he said.
Kevin Curry, who lives at Channing Avenue and Waverley Street, said the problem could be easily solved by altering residential permit-parking fees and extending time limits on existing parking.
Keene said he was meeting with Professorville leaders, and some residents expressed gratitude, having been frustrated by the problem for years.
"They seem very sincere about it. They recognize if they don't do anything, it's only going to get worse. Downtown continues to grow and office space is filling up," Alsman said.