News


To help Professorville, city launches parking study

Residents protested downtown Palo Alto employees who clog residential streets

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.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by parking lots
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm

$420/year for parking sounds cheap to me, but only for people who drive every day. A lot of people take Caltrain some of the time and only drive a couple of days a week. Having daily parking rates sounds like a good idea to me. But charge $3 or $5 per day. Only $1 is not worth the tens of millions of dollars that the city paid for those parking lots.


Like this comment
Posted by parking lots
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 26, 2011 at 2:44 pm

And I bet a lot of downtown merchants and restaurants are hiring part time workers so they don't have to pay full-time benefits. Those workers only work a few days a week, so full-time parking permits don't make sense.


Like this comment
Posted by Art Kraemer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm

The city encourages busineses to be in the downtown area because they generate revenues. The businesses need employees, some of whom don't make very much money. The parking garage on Bryant is totally empty during the normal working hours except for a few cars parking on the first floor. Why don't we let the employers certify that a person is a downdown employee and let them park in the Bryant Street garage with no fee between 8:00A and 5:00PM? Each downdown employee could be given a placard similar to a handicap placard. When they leave or quit , the placard must be returned.
In this way everybody wins. The city gets revenues from the businesses that have employees; people won't park in front of the homes in professorville; and the employees won't have to walk a mile each day. The city isn't getting any revenue from the garage now anyway.
A simple solution appears to be available. Why does the city need to hire a consultant to do a parking survey? Can't our present capable staf handle this?


Like this comment
Posted by parking lots
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 26, 2011 at 8:06 pm

When I was working downtown some years ago, the norm was for employers to buy parking permits for their employees. Are employers now forcing employees to pay for their own parking? That sounds wrong.


Like this comment
Posted by oldPaloResident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 27, 2011 at 10:47 am

Great I see cars parked all the way in Old Palo Alto area of Kellogg Avenue. I hope the city check al the way to there as well. specially if the create some bumper sticker parking permits for residents only. Please include Old Palo alto too!


Like this comment
Posted by embarcadero rd
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 27, 2011 at 11:11 am

$1.75 or $2 a day would achieve about the same revenue given the demand exists, so that seems like an obvious good idea.

Having a few areas that are resident only parking could help-- one side of a street, perhaps? During Stanford games during the work week, it is sometimes extremely difficult to find parking anywhere around one's house.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Resident parking on one side of the road makes perfect sense. Enough parking for residents and workers. Having a parking ticket machine in every garage makes sense too - parking all day for $2 is a great deal.


Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Mar 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm

The small "University South" neighborhood suffers from the same problem.


Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Mar 27, 2011 at 4:30 pm

The small "University South" neighborhood suffers from the same problem.


Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Mar 28, 2011 at 7:30 am

Why doesn't the city sell the downtown parking permits to residents?


Like this comment
Posted by Nick
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 28, 2011 at 10:30 am

It's not just downtown workers that are parking there. I know people who take the Caltrain that park in convenient spots in Professorville. The city needs to address that issue as well.


Like this comment
Posted by voter
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 28, 2011 at 10:39 am

Hopefully something really happens. I fear it will simply be a study, and waste of money with no relief for residents. I am so tired of the ugly cars, usually outfitted with The Club and piled high with discarded newspapers, coffee cups, soda cans . . . I can't park in front of my house and unload groceries or ever have access to the sidewalk. It's a nightmare if I invite anyone over, they can't find parking. If you have a loved one who is elderly, they run a big risk of falling, as they have to squeeze between cars and walk over dirt before they can get to the sidewalk . . . and don't get me started on how fast the cars go down the streets, lucky the kids coming and going from Paly haven't been hit yet . . it is a big mess!


Like this comment
Posted by Consistent policy, please
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

College Terrace finally got residential permit parking, buy only after lobbying for and receiving money for the parking study and implementation from Stanford, as a condition under Stanford's General Use Permit from the County in 2000. Once the money was available in Dec 2000, it took 9 years for the City to finally start with the parking study and then set up the program.

Evergreen Park was the next in line for any leftover Stanford GUP funds, but there was no leftover. That neighborhood wants residential permit parking, but my understanding is that getting the funds for a parking study is a hurdle.

So I am wondering, what exactly is the City's policy about funding a parking study? Do some neighborhoods get preferential treatment?

Now, I am totally sympathetic to Professorville's problem, and I remember that the City had promised the downtown neighborhoods that residential permit parking would happen years ago after the downtown parking garages were built, but, as I recall, when the garages were completed, the main excuse for not going ahead at that time was residents' resistance to residential permit parking. (They didn't want to have to buy permits and didn't want the inconvenience of having to provide permits for service workers, visitors, etc.).

I just want to see a consistent policy and process for the way the City spends funds on different neighborhoods and deals with parking encroachment problems.


Like this comment
Posted by Wendy
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 28, 2011 at 11:29 am

Well, well. Seems that College Terrace isn't the only neighborhood that folks can now pick on for being so propriatery. We fought so hard for our permit parking. Not much in the way of sympathy came our way. One of the only reasons we got permit parking was that the funding for the study and the initial permit process came from Stanford long ago. Only took 9 years to access the funds. The permits started out at $15.00 - now they are $40.00. Not much in the grand scheme of things but be aware that even that doesn't cover the cost of the meter person to come around every day, a couple times a day to tag vehicles. I came home the other afternoon to find my street jammed with cars with no permit stickers and no chalk marks either. By the time 3 PM rolled around the cars were safe since the two hour parking limit is from 8 AM to 5 PM. Should it be 24 hours for restrictions? Yes but we were unable to get that so people who live closer to Stanford still can't park near their homes in the eveing and at night - the married student housing residents can park all they want all night. So the permit parking systems are a good step in the right direction, beware that they may not solve all of your problems unless you fight really hard.


Like this comment
Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 28, 2011 at 11:57 am

If you commute to san francisco by car, the daily parking fee within walking distance of the financial district is $35.00. That's approx $7000/year


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Is this a consultant, or permanent parking "manager"? Who pays for this? So many residents constantly complaining about city budgets & this is getting a serious look? Interesting. I feel for both sides; I've both lived downtown & worked there, having to find parking - before there were so many paid lots - & there were waiting lists for permits.

This is more than a convenience issue (although that is a big part of it) for residents & employees - it is also a safety issue.

A good number of the parking spaces are taken up by apartment dwellers w/second vehicles & residents w/multiple cars.

So the residents feel superior to the employees, who draw business to the town, enough that they want to make significant changes, even though the majority of them moving in knew, moving in, that the parking was an issue. Interesting.


Like this comment
Posted by parking garages
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm

The city parking garages were extremely expensive to build (around $50,000 for each parking space, not including the price of the land). The city had better be charging enough in parking fees to pay for them in a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, they are just a huge taxpayer subsidy to downtown businesses.

If the city is only charging $500/year for each parking space, the garage won't pay for itself for 100 years (not including maintenance costs). Taking that money out of the general fund is not right.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm

To, Hmmmmm,
A very large number of residents in Professorville have lived here for many years, long before the rezoning to color parking created the move of employees to park in our neighborhood. Yes, we, like every resident of our fine City, benefit from the revenues of a vibrant downtown. This, however, should not be at the expense of the quality of life of any resident. No resident here feels superior to the employees of downtown. We understand why they park here. That is why we are working with the city to look at taking care of their needs without them having to intrude into the neighborhood. Parking for employees should be addressed by the Business District and the City without a burden being put on any neighborhood.


Like this comment
Posted by more of the same
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm

"Not much in the grand scheme of things but be aware that even that doesn't cover the cost of the meter person to come around every day, a couple times a day to tag vehicles"

Yep, the rest of the city is *still* subsidizing College Terrace's gated community.


Like this comment
Posted by not a college terrace fan
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm

"I came home the other afternoon to find my street jammed with cars with no permit stickers and no chalk marks either. By the time 3 PM rolled around the cars were safe since the two hour parking limit is from 8 AM to 5 PM. Should it be 24 hours for restrictions?"
Well first of all Wendy has no idea when all of those cars parked there--why the assumption that they were there for longer than the allotted time? There should definitely NOT be 24 hour restrictions. The streets in CT are still public streets and should be available for public parking. Owning a home does not guarantee a spot in front. The street does not come with the house.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm

"Owning a home does not guarantee a spot in front. The street does not come with the house." - Doesn't that apply to the parking issue downtown as well? There were parking problems downtown for residents long before the color coded parking deal- which haven't been there that long, at least for those who easily remember the time before.

It makes sense to leave some parking to residents in that area because not all of the houses have driveways, & leave the rest public. Of course, a lot of these issues would be irrelevant if it was illegal to leave your car on the street overnight w/out a permit & some street parking was designated for those residents who lacked driveways & could get permits to park on the street, or some kind of free pass if they have no driveway. How come the city can't implement something basic & practical w/out paying someone to look into it?


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm

FYI-
the statement below by a previous poster is entirely incorrect.

"Posted by more of the same, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 33 minutes ago

Yep, the rest of the city is *still* subsidizing College Terrace's gated community"


College Terrace received $100,000.00 from the Stanford General Use Permit (GUP)
to mitigate parking impacts in the neighborhood. These funds if not used by a certain date in CT would have been made available to other neighborhoods for the same purpose.
An additional $50,000.00 came from mitigation funds for a development in the Research Park.
These Funds were administered by city staff who hired consultants, called for car counts and other studies with a significant potion of the labor coming from resident volunteers.

The $150 K paid for all of this and subsidized the cost of residential permits for the first year at the direction of the city council.

The permit fees went up the second year substantially because the program at city council's direction was mandated to be "revenue neutral".

No one in Palo Alto is "paying " for the College Terrace residential parking permit program
unless they live in College Terrace on a street that has voted to participate in the program and have chosen to purchase a permit.

Residential Parking programs near to Universities or business areas are standard in communities across the Bay area , and in fact nationwide.

I hope the residents of the entire University South Neighborhood, not just Professorville, will benefit from the work already done in College Terrace and receive a speedier solution to the real parking problems in their neighborhood.




Posted by more of the same, a resident of the Crescent Park neighborhood, 33 minutes ago

Yep, the rest of the city is *still* subsidizing College Terrace's gated community.


Like this comment
Posted by more of the same
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 28, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Resident, the $40 fee does *not* cover the cost of the permits. They increased the cost but still not enough to cover the cost of running this program in your gated community.
Re-read the proposal and breakdown in numbers that went to the city. They admitted in there that the increase would still not make the program "revenue neutral".


Like this comment
Posted by little bird
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Here's a good question to ask as part of the parking study: Why do hundreds of city employees get "free" parking permits good for two years in City Hall, when everyone else has to pay? Could charging market rates for these folks help finance a more forward-thinking parking management program?

It's not just that the permits cost the city employees nothing. It's my understanding that the city does not pay the downtown parking district anything for all those permits.

Sure, you could argue that until residential permit parking is adopted for the neighborhoods north and south of downtown, charging city employees for parking would just cause more of them to park on neighborhood streets and walk to City Hall. But there's a very high cost to so-called free parking -- it subsidizes driving.

Eliminating these hidden subsidies for city employees should be on the table for discussion as part of any serious attempt at finding a comprehensive solution for parking problems in the area between Alma, Embarcadero, Middlefield and Palo Alto Avenue.


Like this comment
Posted by more of the same
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 8:38 am

"Should it be 24 hours for restrictions?"

There you have the College Terrace mindset in one line!


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 29, 2011 at 9:50 am

crescent Park...... perhaps you have some insider knowledge but i can assure to the best of their ability Staff based the cost of permits in the second year of the program on the cost associated with the program and the revenues of the permit fees and even the revenue expected from tickets.

if you want to debate the accuracy of staff's estimate of cost Vs revenue and fees that would be a different conversation, and may have some merit; but it is the case to the best of their ability that staff designed the program to be revenue neutral, with no cost to anyone but those who buy permits and those who receive citations.


Like this comment
Posted by Serenna
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 29, 2011 at 11:34 am

Um...what about downtown North?...this area is just as bad! I guess our neighborhood will need to complain first before Palo Alto will do a parking study in this area.


Like this comment
Posted by Consistent policy, please
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Downtown North will have to work extra hard to get the City to provide a parking solution. The City is probably wary ever since the traffic-calming issue split Downtown North into factions with respect to street closures.

This should also be a warning to the City and to every neighborhood that seeks residential permit parking. Maybe a dozen or so speakers/letters can get the City to do a parking study (I still feel the City needs to spell out a consistent policy about funding such studies), but, in the end, there needs to be buy-in from a majority of residences on a block to get residential permit parking.

Note that, in College Terrace, the street with the highest number of rental apartment units chose not to opt-in to the residential permit parking plan.


Like this comment
Posted by buggedonspace
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm

It's not fair to have out of town visitors not be able to park by their family's house. Shoppers etc. are using up all of the RESIDENTIAL street parking.
I experience trying to get to my parents or sisters home to visit, and ALL the streets around Lytton, Bryant, Alma, etc. etc. are ALL lined up with cars for the day! Can't get visitors anywhere near the house!!
Ideas? Perhaps have 2 or 3 hr limit on the residential roads between 7a to 4p on week days!
Get a ticket if they park too long during those hours. PLUS Income for city once it is in place, and it will limit the non-residential parking PLUS get some income for parking needs.


Like this comment
Posted by Bothered
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm

By Bryant, Lytton, etc.--never have any area for visiting friends, or family in the daytime M-F since the WORKERS in the adjacent area are parking on our streets.
So it seems that there should be time limits on the adjacent streets so that the workers either have to walk a LONG way, or go move there car 2-3x each day, or PAY in the lots provided underground and elsewehere!!!!!
The city would put up new signs re: parking on residential streets, and then the city could use the money from the parking tickets to build another lot of double-deck parking. At first, more work for those ticketing the cars, but eventually less so and city would get revenue.
I will be hopeful.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I once lived in a house without a driveway and anticipated that parking would be a problem. I found that my house was cheaper than others in the neighborhood because of that. I also knew right from the beginning that it was unlikely I would regularly be able to park in front of my house and that was the cost I paid of getting a cheaper house.

Putting in a driveway may be a possibility. If you get permission to do so and to lower the curb (if necessary) you will then find that people can't park in front of your home because they would be blocking your driveway. On the other hand, if you allowed guests to block your driveway, they could be ticketed.

I do have some sympathy and I do think that parking downtown should be made easier for anyone who wants to park longer than 2 hours. However, if you live near downtown, a school, a park, a public amenity of any kind, you have to expect some stranger parking outside your home.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm

Yeah, we used to have some unusual "amenities" by our place - hookers! They would join their clients in the creek or cars. It took a concerted effort to get rid of them. I'm not anti-prostitution, but they were poorly mannered, left used condoms on the street & often conducted their business during daytime. Such a bummer!


Like this comment
Posted by more of the same
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 29, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Resident of CT, no it's not a lie, it's a matter of record:

"Based on updated cost estimates and analysis of the permit program in year one, Fiscal Year 2011 is projected to generate $70,550 in revenues and $97,134 in expenditures, resulting in a draw on the fund balance of $26,584"

The permit costs need to double before it becomes revenue neutral!

There are a lot more deserving causes in Palo Alto than subsidizing a gated community.


Like this comment
Posted by DIANA BAGLEY
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

I HAVE LIVED ON ADDISON AVE IN PROFESSORVILLE FOR OVER 30 YEARS. WHAT I HAVE NOTICED IS THAT UNTIL RECENTLY PARKING DOWNTOWN WAS LIMITED, AND MAY STILL BE THAT WAY DUE TO PARKING PERMITS FOR EMPLOYEES. ALSO, THE RESIDENTS IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD ARE MULTIPLE CAR AND RECREATIONAL VEHICLE FAMILIES. IN SOME THERE ARE 3 DIFFERENT CARS FOR 1 PARKING SPACE. THE STREET IS TERRIBLE CONGESTED WITH LARGE VEHICLES. A CAR FOR EVERY SEASON


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Once again Crescent Park, let me correct you....

Your numbers are projected cost not the final costs from the Staff report in August of 2010.
the $26,584. 00, came from the parking fund, an aggregate of the $110 K from Stanford $50k in mitigations for a building in the research park, and interest accrued.


From CMR: 330: 10 August of 2010:

Web Link


" RESOURCE IMPACT
In Fiscal Year 2011, budget was not appropriated for the Residential Parking Permit Program
Fund (Fund 239) due to the timing conflict between the budget adoption and completion of the
program analysis. Based on updated cost estimates and analysis of the permit program in year
one, Fiscal Year 2011 is projected to generate $70,550 in revenues and $97,134 in expenditures,
reSUlting in a draw on the fund balance of $26,584. "

leaving the parking fund with a projected $31, 475.
BTW - College Terrace is not a gated community, even you are welcome anytime!


Like this comment
Posted by more of the same
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 30, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Resident of CT, this is the Stanford University General Use Permit fund, not the College Terrace enrichment fund! The program is not and never has been revenue neutral. In fact it's unaffordable. If the permits reflected the actual cost, so many residents would drop out that the RPPP would die on the vine.

The Stanford University General Use Permit was for the initiation of the College Terrace Residential Parking Permit Program. It was not and never intended to fund on-going costs. Indeed, any excess after the initiation was required to be used for potential RPPP programs in Southgate and Evergreen. (It's amazing that these neighborhoods weren't screaming when College Terrace appropriated these excess funds to reduce the cost of their parking permits).

Once again College Terrace residents leach funds from the other Palo Alto neighborhoods.

Even more importantly:
"If the funds are not used by the City of Palo Alto during the term of the General Use Permit they shall revert to Stanford.

The behavior of College Terrace residents is unbelievable. They can't afford the RPPP and so just take money from everyone else.


Like this comment
Posted by City Employee
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:10 pm

The comment that employees can afford the $420 a year for parking are hilarious.
Palo Alto SEIU workers (not management) have received over 6% pay cuts in the past 2 years:
Loss of 5.75 for contribution to Pension
Loss of Up to 700 a year for medical
Loss of tuition refund 1,000
Loss of 3 holidays
Loss of 1,000 towards increased medical insurance deductible

Do people realize that 420 is about .6% of the employees income on average? and .6% is out of the gross NOT after the deductions listed.

Now look at rent food utility and gas increases...Palo A
lto employees have sucked up the costs for PALO ALTO RESIDENT SERVICES.


Like this comment
Posted by `HAROLD
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm

I Live 6 blocks from "downtown" and bought into this historic neighborhood where residents could park on the street by their homes, it never looked or felt congested. I spend a huge amount to restore the house to City standards. I didn't have a say about the parking changes, gifts given to the downtown interests, I just got the overflow parking and the destruction of a once nice neighborhood. It is simple. Commercial, downtown owners and businesses need to provide parking for the uses in their buildings and on their property. They should not put parking -- or their other garbage -- in my neighborhood. What is wrong with this no action city?


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

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