News

Parking program a tough sell for Professorville

Neighborhood residents face parking shortages, downtown opposition to their preferred remedy

Residents of Palo Alto's College Terrace neighborhood cheered and applauded when the City Council created the city's first residential permit-parking program in their area two years ago.

The council unanimously approved the program in July 2007 after residents argued that their residential parking spaces were being taken over by Stanford University students and employees from the nearby Stanford Research Park.

But for residents of the Professorville neighborhood, which abuts downtown, convincing the city to create a similar program in their neighborhood is proving to be as frustrating these days as finding an empty parking spot outside their homes.

Professorville residents have been pleading with the council for more than two years to set up a program under which parking for visitors would be limited to two hours. Under the existing system, downtown workers face two-hour restrictions throughout most of the downtown, a setup that leads many to park their cars in Professorville, where such restrictions don't exist.

The resulting parking shortage has vexed Professorville residents, many of whom have been attending meetings in recent months to ask the city for help. They reiterated these concerns Monday night (Sept. 12), during the City Council's broad-ranging discussion of parking problems downtown and near California Avenue.

So far, however, a parking program is proving a tough sell in the historic neighborhood. The College Terrace program was subsidized by Stanford University as part of the university's general-use permit with Santa Clara County. A potential Professorville program, by contrast, would have to be paid for entirely by the city, though officials would expect to recoup the costs from permit sales. At the same time, some business owners and council members remain skeptical about a new permit-parking program in Professorville and argue that new parking restrictions in this part of downtown would simply transfer the parking problem to another neighborhood.

The city's planning staff, for its part, remains open to creating the program -- eventually. In the meantime, planners are crafting a set of guidelines for a residential parking permit (RPP) program that could be applied to any neighborhood in the city. Jaime Rodriguez, the city's chief transportation official, wrote in a report that staff believes that "it is important for the City to establish some basic policies for all RPP requests before expanding beyond the current College Terrace program."

The city's cautious approach is testing the patience of Professorvile residents. Michael Hodos, a neighborhood resident since 1978, said he was frustrated by the lack of urgency -- and deadlines -- on the part of the city. Hodos said he and his neighbors have been trying to get the city to address the parking problem since 2007.

Hodos said other communities, including Los Altos and Menlo Park, already have similar programs. He said the costs of launching the program in those cities were recovered within two or three years.

"It's not like we're rediscovering fire and reinventing the wheel," Hodos said.

Hodos was one of several Professorville residents who attended the meeting and complained about the neighborhood's parking shortage, a problem exacerbated by the fact that many of the houses were built before 1900 and have either small garages or no garages at all. Ken Alsman, a Professorville resident who is leading the effort to create a new parking program, said he supports downtown businesses but doesn't want to "subsidize their success with destruction of our neighborhood."

Downtown business leaders, meanwhile, reject this characterization and note that they have already sunk millions of dollars into creating new parking structures. The businesses belong to an assessment district that funds downtown parking improvements. Charles "Chop" Keenan, a downtown developer who serves on a committee charged with tackling the neighborhood's parking problems, said the city should consider other options, including new garages, and to avoid any "magic wand" solutions to parking woes.

"To privatize the spaces in Downtown South and not even look at the problem in Downtown North is crazy," Keenan said.

Russ Cohen, executive director of the Palo Alto Downtown Business and Professional Association, acknowledged "we have a problem in Professorville" but urged the council not to launch the permit program until the city has a chance to evaluate other less drastic proposals on the table. These measures include new way-finding signs leading visitors to downtown garages (many of which remain underused, according to a recent city survey) and new rates for parking permits to encourage downtown workers to buy these permits and park in garages.

"If we implement those, they need to be measured before we implement the residential parking program," Cohen told the council. "We need to see if those incremental changes make a difference."

Cohen also wrote a letter to the council saying that residents who choose to live near busy parts of the city, including downtown, "accept and acclimate to their unique environs."

The council did not make any decisions about the permit program Monday but members were generally sympathetic toward the Professorville dilemma. Councilman Pat Burt challenged Cohen's assertion that residents should adapt to their environments and argued that Professorville's parking shortages go beyond reasonable expectations.

"It's not reasonable to expect perfection, but it's not reasonable to get flooded with a steep increase which seems to be the pattern we've seen in the last few years," Burt said.

Councilman Larry Klein was the only council member who advocated speeding ahead on a new permit program in Professorville. The neighborhood, he said, is a "unique situation" that does not require a citywide solution.

Others were more cautious. Mayor Sid Espinosa noted that parking problems in Professorville have gotten worse in recent years and that residents are becoming frustrated. But he said he was concerned that downtown workers would take their cars to other neighborhoods, including Downtown North, once a permit program is in place in Professorville.

Councilman Greg Scharff was another council member who said he was "hesitant" to launch a permit program in Professorville. He said he would prefer to see the city first use other means to lure downtown workers away from the residential streets.

"Let's focus on getting the parking out of neighborhoods by bringing parking into the garages," Scharff said. "If that's not working, we can look at a residential permit parking program."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by narnia
a resident of another community
on Sep 13, 2011 at 6:26 am

Last Sunday I parked in a downtown garage at the bequest of a friend. I had not known that that that garage existed and where to enter. Now I know, but Palo Alto better publicize the garages and their locations.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2011 at 8:32 am

Imagine you are from the East Bay and have a meeting with someone at a downtown Palo Alto company. You arrive about 15 minutes before the meeting and drive to say City Hall garage to look for parking. You see all the permit only parking and the two hour parking, but then what? You know you will be more than two hours because your meeting will include lunch with the project team. You are running short of time, so you drive out of the garage and start towards the residential area where there is street parking. You arrive flustered and 5 minutes late for your meeting, and feel bad for Palo Alto.

Imagine the same scenario but instead you find a pay per hour machine in City Hall garage. You park, buy a ticket, and arrive at your meeting with 5 minutes to spare.

This is a scenario which happens in Palo Alto because of the fact that there is no pay per hour parking machines. Get some and see the difference.


Like this comment
Posted by bigger than you'd expect
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 13, 2011 at 8:46 am

The only way this would work is by assigning an area around downtown that takes in all of Professorville, Downtown North & Crescent Park down to Lincoln.
That assumes the problem is from Downtown businesses and not T&C.


Like this comment
Posted by Time-To-Teleconference
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2011 at 9:11 am

> Imagine you are from the East Bay and have a meeting with
> someone at a downtown Palo Alto company

Teleconferencing will solver this problem handily. Why spend time, and money, as well as risk getting a ticket, driving to Palo Alto, when you can have meetings with people all over the world from the comfort of your own office, or home?

We can provide only so many parking places in Palo Alto, but we can always increase the capacity of our broadband lines.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 13, 2011 at 9:35 am

Time-to-teleconference - I don't think the employees of the restaurants or stores Downtown can teleconference to their jobs.

Neighborhood parking only on one side of the street with public parking on the other would solve the problem.

I agree that it should not be limited to Professorville, but should probably include all neighborhoods north of Embarcadero and West of Middlefield.


Like this comment
Posted by Time-To-Teleconference
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2011 at 10:16 am

> Time-to-teleconference - I don't think the employees of
> the restaurants or stores Downtown can teleconference to their jobs.

Probably not. But of the total number of cars parked, how many are driven by restaurant/store employees?

Pushing this a bit--any of the restaurant workers can be seen riding bicycles to/from their jobs, so maybe they shouldn't count too much in this discussion. Store employees also ride public transportation (VTA/CalTrain), so we should make an effort to consider their impact on the need for parking.

This gets us back to the point of the posting--that people who come to Palo Alto for meetings and need parking could well teleconference with a considerable savings in time, and money.


Like this comment
Posted by Nick
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 13, 2011 at 10:24 am

Saying we shouldn't have permits in Professorville because the problem will be transferred elsewhere is a fallacy; it doesn't address the argument on its merits, it just deflects it. The problem exists, it's affecting the neighborhood and its residents, let's deal with it. I personally know people who train it to SF and park in my street and who work at downtown startups (e.g. Flipboard) and who park all the way up at Emerson and Lincoln, for free. They are always going to take that option rather than pay for daily parking, it's just the way people are wired. We need permits (so do other neighborhoods in a similar radius) to protect the streets, the residents and the houses. Why? Because it's annoying when you can't find parking outside your own house!


Like this comment
Posted by Where
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 13, 2011 at 10:39 am

Wait--where does it say that public streets are the property of the home owners?
Where does it guarantee that home owners will have parking on the street in front of their homes?


Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 13, 2011 at 10:46 am

Time-to,

Most of the parkers are employees.

Get out from behind your computer, go to the neighborhoods, and follow the parkers to their jobs.

Many of them will give you clues because they are carrying their Whole Foods aprons.


Like this comment
Posted by kelly
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2011 at 11:25 am

My daughter works downtown at a daycare center which doesn't provide parking for employees. If the parking structures offer a reasonable fee for yearly parking, I'm sure she'd park there. In downtown Los Altos, the yearly fee is $36, which I buy so I can park once a week to do volunteer work. However, in PA, the yearly fee is over $400 which is completely out of the price range for most of the low paid restaurant workers, and store employees, including my daughter who, despite a college education, makes a small salary. Open up the garages so that employees can park for a small fee and street parking will be better for residents.


Like this comment
Posted by Five Coats
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 13, 2011 at 11:33 am

Set aside areas of the downtown parking garages for 4 and 8 hour parking for use by employees of downtown, and visitors who have appointments that take longer than 2 hours.

I read recently that the garages downtown are underutilized.


Like this comment
Posted by Time-To-Teleconference
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2011 at 11:43 am

> Get out from behind your computer, go to the neighborhoods,
> and follow the parkers to their jobs

And you can't cut a video and upload it to Youtube? To do what you are suggesting means I would have to drive downtown, and then find a place to park. Don't you get the thrust of the postings? Don't go downtown at all! Video conference, or go to some other town where there isn't a parking problem, like Mountain View, for lunch.


Like this comment
Posted by liberty
a resident of University South
on Sep 13, 2011 at 11:58 am

I own a downtown business and live in professorville.

Currently there are three problems:
1. Employee parking. The cost is too high for full time permits. Permits can’t be transferred to different vehicles. There are wait lists to get permits for the garages and lots near our office. The system is terrible. I can’t justify spending $500 on a permit that is locked to one vehicle.

2. Vendor/Client parking. When we have a client come to our office for a long meeting I tell them to go park in the neighborhood. The city recently started some sort of pay for the day parking but I think you have to go to city hall to buy it, or park in a specific garage..? There is no good convenient option for my clients and I to deal with the parking. Either interrupt the meeting every 2 hours to move to a different zone, or park in the neighborhood.

3. Overspill into neighborhoods. I don’t think the people in the neighborhoods should have to pay for a permit to keep the people from the businesses out. They should get free permits if permits are the solution. But residents have visitors and visitors won’t have permits, I know that will drive my family crazy.

Solution:
The downtown permit system should be reformed to cater to business needs. I should be able to buy a 6 pack of permits that are completely transferable between vehicles. So when I have employees with more than one car there won’t be a problem. I can have an extra for vendors/clients that I can hand them and they can put it on their dashboard. The permits should be for all of downtown, not segregated into specific lots. I wouldn’t mind spending the money for something flexible like this. I also think it would be cheaper for the city to administrate since they won’t have to manage all these wait lists for specific lots and garages.


Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 13, 2011 at 12:04 pm

@Where: First, get out from Mommy and Daddys dollars and buy or rent a residence in Palo Alto at an exorbitant price THEN ask about the right to park in front of your own home. Add to that the fact that many Stanford students will leave their cars parked for weeks at a time in front of many residences and it becomes a huge problem. Residents pay the taxes in this City, pay for just about every facet of living in Palo Alto, and they should be entitled to park in front of their own homes. Stanford should develop some of their massive land for student parking.


Like this comment
Posted by Where
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 13, 2011 at 12:09 pm

"First, get out from Mommy and Daddys dollars and buy or rent a residence in Palo Alto at an exorbitant price THEN ask about the right to park in front of your own home. "
Your point???

"Add to that the fact that many Stanford students will leave their cars parked for weeks at a time in front of many residences and it becomes a huge problem."
Where does this happen. Why would Stanford students who live on campus, park on the streets miles away. Anyway there is a 72 hour limit. I doubt that this story is even true, much less a problem.

"Residents pay the taxes in this City, pay for just about every facet of living in Palo Alto, and they should be entitled to park in front of their own homes."
Actually no. There is no entitlement for parking in front of your home on public streets. As you point about taxes--everyone who lives in Palo Alto pays taxes--the streets are public--available for everyone's use. STreets in front of homes are not private property for the sole use of the homeowner.

"Stanford should develop some of their massive land for student parking."
There is student parking on campus. This whole issue of stanford parking is a red herring.


Like this comment
Posted by Professorville resident
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 13, 2011 at 12:41 pm

There is a significant difference in Professorville. Most houses around me, built pre-Ford, don't have driveways or on-site parking. And yes, it is common for all other cities in the United States that have areas on the National Register of Historic Places to have resident only parking for just this reason. Palo Alto is not holding up their end in the deal with the National Register, with whom they agreed to cooperate, and it is a scandal.


Like this comment
Posted by quite a mess to fix, but can
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 13, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I like what "Liberty" said in the posts, seems logical and ok.


Like this comment
Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm

For all the egalitarians who feel that the streets are public and residents have no right to expect [referential treatment. When doing homework on what other cities have done with respect to resident parking permits, we found that, nationwide (Boston, New York, Houston,Baton Rouge, Dallas among others) felt that, in fact, residents DO deserve preferential treatment from intrusive parking (their term). It is more than an inconvenience. We see cars u-turning to grab a space before the next guy, we see lunch garbage thrown in the streets, we DO see cars parked for as long as 10 days despite the 72 hour regulation. The developers who don't live in this area don't find rubbish, or in one case, a bottle of urine in the parking space in front of a home, or in another case, someone parked on their lawn (with a note, please don't call the police, it's the only space I could find). Living with that day in and day out for years, anyone would find Intrusive parking intolerable. As individuals we can't solve the problem. No matter what one's political belief, there is a time when government can provide a solution, wisely by working with residents and business, but it can't continue to push relief to the back burner.


Like this comment
Posted by Where
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm

"residents DO deserve preferential treatment from intrusive parking (their term)."
This is Palo Alto--so residents feel they deserve special treatment--look at College Terrace.
Public streets are just that-public streets. Maybe the residents should agree to privatize the streets and assume all costs related to their upkeep--that way they can keep out all the hard working people from their exclusive, National Historical Registry area


Like this comment
Posted by Beth
a resident of University South
on Sep 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm

It is true that we residents of Downtown South and Professorville are not entitled to a parking space in front of our own homes. However, until a few years ago, we were generally able to find a parking space within a block of our homes. Recently, finding a parking place at any hour of a weekday between 7:30 am and 6:30 pm within a 4 block radius of our homes has become difficult, if not impossible. Imagine a trunk full of groceries and packages, two toddlers and their stroller and a 4-block walk on a rainy day.


Like this comment
Posted by voter
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 13, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I suggest the city council drive or walk around Professorville on a week day. It is a nightmare. The parked cars are jammed into spaces, parked bumper to bumper and project so far out into the cross streets that you can't see around them to cross the intersection safely. You have to inch out to see and often get nearly run into by the cross traffic. Heaven help you if you are standing by your own car and stop to chat with a neighbor. You can get run down by the cars speeding down the streets who are frantically looking to take your parking space. There is absolutely no respect for the area being a residential neighborhood.


Like this comment
Posted by Ken
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm

These are single-family residential streets, not commercial streets - YES, it makes sense to limit parking to residents and their needs. Commercial streets and commercial uses need to provide for the demands of their properties and uses.

Yes, Stanford employees are parking here and walking to campus to collect their "incentive" fees from the school. Caltrain riders are parking here to avoid paying $4 a day parking fees. Downtown employees are parking here to avoid paying fees and because the city will not issue permits even though the structures are half empty.

The City is allowing buildings with little or no parking to be used for intensive uses generating very high parking demand, 4 to 6 times the "normal" demand for normal office uses. This overflow affects not only our neighborhood and homes, but every other commercial use in the area.

A lot of work is needed but Waiting for an RPP will only make the solutions more difficult. A permit system is needed in Professorville area neighborhoods immediately.


Like this comment
Posted by Linda
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 13, 2011 at 1:41 pm

SPECIAL TREATMENT? We are not asking for special treatment, we just want our neighborhood restored. It is the businesses and commercial property owners who are asking for special treatment. They don't want to pay for the parking needed for the uses that support their exorbitant rents. They want the residents to subsidize them with the loss of character, livability and inherent value of our homes and neighborhoods. They need to come up with solutions and should pay for it.


Like this comment
Posted by Where
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 13, 2011 at 1:43 pm

"Yes, Stanford employees are parking here and walking to campus to collect their "incentive" fees from the school. Caltrain riders are parking here to avoid paying $4 a day parking fees. Downtown employees are parking here to avoid paying fees and because the city will not issue permits even though the structures are half empty."
Wonder how Ken knows this? I she following people around who park on public streets.

"The City is allowing buildings with little or no parking to be used for intensive uses generating very high parking demand, 4 to 6 times the "normal" demand for normal office uses. This overflow affects not only our neighborhood and homes, but every other commercial use in the area."
I think Liberty has presented a fairly accurate description of what the problems are. The question is will the city recognize these as problems and try to deal with them instead of the usual knee jerk reaction to give into a vocal neighborhood (i.e. College Terrace) with their demands that take away public streets.

"A lot of work is needed but Waiting for an RPP will only make the solutions more difficult. A permit system is needed in Professorville area neighborhoods immediately."
Before we go to a RPP we nned to look at solutions. Ken may want "immediately" but that should not happen.
Do we actually know if Professorville wants an RPP???


Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 13, 2011 at 2:24 pm

@Where::: "Add to that the fact that many Stanford students will leave their cars parked for weeks at a time in front of many residences and it becomes a huge problem."

How many years have YOU lived here? I have had to deal with Stanford Student parking for years. There are students who don't want to keep their cars on campus who park them on Palo Alto's residential streets.

:::Where does this happen. Why would Stanford students who live on campus, park on the streets miles away. Anyway there is a 72 hour limit. I doubt that this story is even true, much less a problem.

Before you make such a statement, I suggest you call the 'Abandoned Cars' line at the Palo Alto PD and leave a message to speak to the community service officer. She can certainly fill you in on the veracity of my statement. So can countless other residents who have had to deal with this problem for years. I asked more than one Stanford student why they park their cars and leave them, the answer is that they are busy on campus during the week then use the cars occasional weekends. They will also leave their cars at a friends place (usually a rental) and ride their bicycles to campus.

:::There is student parking on campus. This whole issue of Stanford parking is a red herring. (And I capitalized Stanford for you. You're welcome).

Typical Stanford answer. Again, I refer you to the Police department community affairs officer for answers to this particular issue.

Don't argue for the sake of arguing or because you think you have superior intelligence. You are coming off rather foolish here, as a 38 year resident I am stating facts. I can tell from the misinformation in your statements that you don't have a clue what you are talking about. Perhaps do the research before you run your yap.


Like this comment
Posted by Where
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 13, 2011 at 2:53 pm

"How many years have YOU lived here? "
16

"I have had to deal with Stanford Student parking for years. There are students who don't want to keep their cars on campus who park them on Palo Alto's residential streets."
As long as they do not violate the 72 hour rule they can park on public streets

"Before you make such a statement, I suggest you call the 'Abandoned Cars' line at the Palo Alto PD and leave a message to speak to the community service officer. She can certainly fill you in on the veracity of my statement."
Well first of all if the car is abandoned how does the Palo Alto police know that the owner is/was a Stanford student. Second, it sounds like the system is working--cars parked longer than 72 hours are towed.
It is also interesting that no one in Professorville is complaining about supposed Stanford student parking. The issue has been downtown workers/shoppers.


"Don't argue for the sake of arguing or because you think you have superior intelligence. You are coming off rather foolish here, as a 38 year resident I am stating facts. I can tell from the misinformation in your statements that you don't have a clue what you are talking about. Perhaps do the research before you run your yap."
Seems like someone is hypersensitive to criticism and to the questioning of his statements. I guess then this person reverts to "insult mode" (You are coming off rather foolish here, you don't have a clue what you are talking about and before you run your yap.)
I guess when you cannot provide any facts...

BTW, enough, this has been happening where in Charleston Gardens??


Like this comment
Posted by vote Supervisors out
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 13, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Vote to City Supervisors who are favor of creating a parking permit for Professorville. Ask them before you vote, make sure they do not take Espinosa money from Downtown Business.


Like this comment
Posted by Say It Ain't So!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2011 at 5:30 pm

Wait a minute.

Does this article suggest that these Palo Alto residents are in disagreement and disarray? Full of mutually contradictory views and replete with incompatible desires? Yet each one certain that he or she is in the right with science and logic both on their side?

Say it ain't so!!


Like this comment
Posted by simple solution
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 13, 2011 at 6:11 pm

There are lots of parking garages available in both Professorville and Downtown. If all the residents stopped using them for storage and parked their cars in them, this problem would go away.
There are very few houses that don't have garages or drive ways. It's the residents who choose not to use them. And then trying to get the city to solve their "problem"! really?!!


Like this comment
Posted by Sid
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 13, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I don't mind if someone parks in front of my house as long as they don't damage the trees or plantings. I know that some of the parking is taken up by the never ending remodeling and construction that goes on in Palo Alto. I wonder if people sometimes have too many cars for their driveways, and need overflow into the street. I admit that we have two cars, but park one in the street so we don't have to be constantly juggling them, and look forward to a time when we only need one. I sometimes work in downtown on repair jobs, and find that parking is frustrating with the 2 hour limit. It is comparable in price to get a parking ticket to buying a day permit which is also a hassle...


Like this comment
Posted by mhardi01
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 13, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I recall in the North End of Boston, the use chairs to reserve your street space, and of course unfortunate things that befall the parked car that violates this point of etiquette. I guess the P-ville folks can try that approach. Of course, if we have underutilized garages, and the opportunity to create some pay-per-hour parking as well as reasonably priced permits for downtown workers, seems a no brainer. Of course I think the guys that repair key-scratches and punctured tires would prefer the first approach.


Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm

Time-to,

I'd like to see the Whole Foods workers do their jobs by teleconference.


Like this comment
Posted by Michael Vilain
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 3:39 am

I work in downtown 2x week and paying $400/mo to park in a garage isn't possible. So I park in professorville and walk. Many homeowners are putting parking cones in front of their homes. I just move them and park there anyway. I got a nasty note from one lady on Emerson who said I took the space of her 70yo disabled father. Yet, 40ft away was a disabled parking space, the only one within a mile of the area. I'm very close to just reporting her to the PAPD every time I see parking cones.

If reasonable all day parking existed in the various garages, I'd use it. But PA is more interested in getting that revenue from high revenue businesses rather than low-end workers in restaurants or shops. No wonder it's turning into a chain store strip mail.


Like this comment
Posted by a resident of Professorville
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 9:06 am

Hey, Michael Vilain,

I Double Dog Dare you to report the parking cones that presumptuous woman puts out on Emerson St. for her handicapped father!!! Make that Triple Dog.

Maybe then we would begin to get some sort of reasonable response for our needs from the City.


Like this comment
Posted by Jake
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2011 at 9:15 am

Why just Professorville? How about downtown North too? The parking situation is a mess on both sides of University Ave. Professorville gets the Whole Foods employees and Downtown North gets the Cheesecake Factory employees. It's ridiculous that Palo Alto finds this to be such a difficult fix when it should be so easy. Just make use of the huge parking garages!!!!


Like this comment
Posted by Andrew Boone
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 14, 2011 at 10:53 am

I only bike or walk in Palo Alto but I support a Residential Permit Program (RPP) for both Professorville and Downtown North neighborhoods. The College Terrace RPP proves that it can be done and that it benefits residents.

Professorville and Downtown North residential permit programs will be much more difficult to get implemented than the College Terrace program was not only because Stanford subsidized it but also because the powerful downtown business association, which represents businesses and their employees who want the cheapest and easiest parking possible, opposes residential permit programs.

The City has already make it clear that they will try simpler solutions to the problem - mainly "wayfinding" signs that help people find the parking garages.

If this solution doesn't work, we will need to mount an organized campaign to get the residential permit programs implemented. This will include understanding the financial implications of such programs - how much will the permits need to cost to make the programs financially sustainable? what areas will be included? do we have support from a majority of the residents in those area?

Don't wait for the city to determine if their wayfinding solution is a success and to propose a residential parking permit program. They won't do it without sustained pressure from the public due to the influence of the downtown business association.

Ken Alsman is leading the effort to get a residential parking program implemented. I will contact him to contribute to the effort, and if you also support a residential permit program, I suggest you do the same.


Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2011 at 11:45 am

We DESPERATELY need a parking program in Downtown North!


Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2011 at 11:53 am

"simple solution", I have one garage and I do not use if for storage. We are a family of 5 and we have two cars. We can never find parking near our home. Also, contractors have a very difficult time parking. The other day the carpet cleaning van had to cancel their service in my home because there was no parking. I was very attentive to anyone leaving to get a spot, but I was unable to do so. By the time I drove my young kids to school and returned home, all the parking area was taken by people that work in downtown and leave their cars all day in my street. And I have to drive my kids to school because my "home school" was full when I purchased my home and my kids go to school in the other side of the city.


Like this comment
Posted by Where
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 14, 2011 at 12:05 pm

"We can never find parking near our home."
Where does it state that a person has to have parking near their home on public streets?

"The other day the carpet cleaning van had to cancel their service in my home because there was no parking."
If you have a garage, you must have some kind of driveway. Why didn't their truck park there?

"all the parking area was taken by people that work in downtown and leave their cars all day in my street."
And you know this how? Maybe they were your neighbor's cars? And, BTW, the street is not yours--it belongs to the public.

Time for the city to address all the parking issues downtown before we run and start implementing RPP (especially since it will be all of us that have the fund the whims of residents of these enclaves).
Liberty, in a post above, addressed the problems quite well.
I think the city is too quick to use the current parking situation downtown as a way to be able to right tickets and raise revenue. They are reluctant to actually address the parking issue headon.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm

In Los Gatos they have local permit parking for residents. Plus they provide the residents with "guest" parking cards (2 or 3 I think) that can be used under some sort of time restraint (24 hours max).

For downtown, the city should consider investing in timed permits - the high tech alternative to meters. You have a kiosk that accepts credit cards and you buy a permit for the time you need. The kiosks can be on each floor in the garages and out on the streets/lots otherwise. Buy your time/permit and then place it on your dashboard - very simple. Berkeley does this on the streets surrounding the Cal campus - very effective and no complaints.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm

To Where,

I'm sure than Ann does not have a driveway. Many homes in Professorville do not. Why is this so hard to understand that this is a big part of our problem?

And believe me, we know all the cars on the block and can tell a neighbor's car from a day parker's car. All you have to do is glance at your block before 8 am or after 7 pm and it is obvious.


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Posted by Where
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 14, 2011 at 1:09 pm

"I'm sure than Ann does not have a driveway. Many homes in Professorville do not."
But, resident, Ann lives in Downtown North.

"Why is this so hard to understand that this is a big part of our problem?"
What exactly is the problem? You own a home in a neighborhood that supposedly does not have driveways (so the garage opens right into the street?0 You knew that was an issue when you bought the home and now you want to privatize the streets?

"And believe me, we know all the cars on the block and can tell a neighbor's car from a day parker's car. "
Really, you know all the cars on the block and which car belongs to which resident? That is scary??

Time for the city to address the downtown parking issues in a real way instead of running to appease privileged enclaves with permit parking, that everyone in the city will have to subisidze


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Posted by Ken
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Who feels it is right for the owner of a small "nonconforming" commercial building, in a commercial zoning district, with little or no parking, formally used as storage, to rent (at very high rates) to a start-up firm with 16 or more employees who will have no choice but to park further into the single-family neighborhoods? Shouldn't they have to provide adequate parking? or limit the type of use? or, should the City let them get away with it? Hmm


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Posted by simple solution
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Ann, you have a garage and a drive - there you go 2-car parking. That's even for older buildings. City code now requires a 2-car garage.
Check with your neighbors and confirm that they aren't using the street for parking their cars. There are plenty of garages in Downtown North (and PV) full of storage or illegally converted.
Any future City ordinance for RPPP should require neighborhood property inspections and if more than 20% of residences aren't using their garages for cars it should be summarily rejected.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Simple Solution and Where

Many of the properties in Professorville and Downtown North have "garages" that are old and small enough that they can't actually fit a vehicle. Many were converted decades ago to storage space and don't even have a driveway leading to them anymore. If you drive down Cowper thru Professorville and Downtown, you will see many houses without driveways or garages, many with driveways barely long enough to fit a small car, much less a large van. Many multi-family dwellings with no driveways or garages.

Neighborhoods should not be used as parking lots for businesses that are too cheap to provide parking for their employees. Downtown is not the only culprit, check out many of the businesses on El Camino - Medical, dental and office buildings without enough parking for their customers much less their employees.

The parking garages downtown should be better labeled and it should be MUCH easier to pay for parking by the hour. We have about the most low-tech parking system possible...

BTW - "Where" yes, I know which cars on my block belong to my neighbors. It is simple powers of observation, nothing scary about it.


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Posted by Ann
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:33 pm

Folks, I live in downtown north and I only have one parking garage. I don't have a driveway. I live in a house complex. The cars parked on my street are not from my neighbors and/or visitors, they are from folks that work in downtown. I see them parking and waking to downtown every single day. There are many people that also live in nearby complexes that have a hard time finding parking and carrying their groceries to their homes. If the public garages are empty, there must be a way to direct employees over there.

A parking program will benefit many families both in Downtown North an in Professorville!


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Posted by Megan
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm

The College Terrace parking program is a disaster. Expensive, unnecessary, and inconvenient.
Downtown parking structures should enforce the "compact car" provision. Many spaces are taken up by two massive vehicles.


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Posted by Where
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Palo Alto Parent:

"BTW - "Where" yes, I know which cars on my block belong to my neighbors. It is simple powers of observation, nothing scary about it."
You mean you have the same problem in your neighborhood--people parking on "your" (i.e. a public) street and then going to work downtown.
It's an epidemic!!!!


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Posted by simple solution
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm

PA Mom, don't need to drive, that's what street view is for.
Cowper street in Professorville: Web Link
Web Link

The road's are empty! With loads of large garages!

Ann, you live in a housing complex. Housing complexes have visitor parking. You have your RPPP already and still want to be able to park on the road!


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Posted by Where
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Thanks, Simple Solution.
it is clear now more than ever that many of the postings here are gross exaggerations and have nothing to do with the facts.


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Posted by Ann
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm

"simple solution", we are a very small group of house. I don't even have a place to park our second car. It would be great to have extra/visitor parking, but that is not our case. Enough from me.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 14, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Simple Solution - posting a link from Cowper which is in front of a 10 million dollar house is probably not a far representation of the parking in Professorville. Going a little closer to Downtown, to the 300 block of Cowper, is a more accurate depiction of the issue:

Web Link

Housing complex in Palo Alto is often multi-family housing with maybe one covered spot, no visitor parking.

And Where, we don't have a parking problem, we do have a friendly neighborhood and I know my neighbors. I see them getting in and out of the cars on a daily basis, so I know which cars are theirs. I suspect Ann sees people getting out of their cars with briefcase/backpacks, dressed for work, and heading toward downtown after parking their cars on the street.


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Posted by IT WAS A MONEY GRAB
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Please, this was a total scam. A small group who attended the College Terrace Neighborhood Association meeting voted on this. Just low double digits, dictating for thousands.

What wasn't realized it that it was really a scam and a money grab by the city.

Rules and state laws broken, too etc.

Any informed Palo Alto resident would know that this was not done because there was a parking problem (I live in CT and I KNOW). It takes just a few folks to say they can't find a place to park in front of their house. My street in the center of CT never had a problem.

Remember the 2 or 3 College Terrace residents (which made all the local news channels) a year and a half ago complain about busses taking employees to work, and they don't like the noise from it? Hey, these bus services take the cars off the road and reduce the congestion, but waaaaaaaaaaa, we don't like the noise.

Same thing with the permit parking. A couple people can change the whole thing.

Go ahead Cowper residents, in fact, go ahead all of Palo Alto - you are being scammed. Wait until you get your $50 (then increase to $80) tickets when you're a day late on buying your permit.

Wait until your visiting friend, parents or grandparents get theirs. What, you didn't get a "guest permit?" Oh well. What's a $50 or $80 dollar ticket for parking in front of your own house. No biggie.

Oh yea, you can go down and tell them, but this is my car, my house. But if you aren't paying for the permit, you'll pay for the tickets. Sorry.

So what was the real reason? Money grab by the city. By charging for permits, they make a lot of cash.

The real cash is in tickets.

IF ANYONE DOES NOT BELIEVE THIS, BEFORE YOU RESPOND HERE, FIND OUT HOW MUCH MONEY WAS AND IS BEING MADE BY THIS.

Normally sign my name, but I am not going to nor will I make anymore responses.


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Posted by simple solution
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 14, 2011 at 3:50 pm

PA Mom, You mean you're actually agreeing they don't have parking problems in Professorville? You brought up Cowper in Professorville - you do realize that 300 Cowper isn't in PV?!

"IT WAS A MONEY GRAB", they are losing money on CT RPPP. It's funded by Stanford.


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Posted by YIMBY
a resident of University South
on Sep 14, 2011 at 4:14 pm

YIMBY is a registered user.

regarding the second comment suggesting the the plan including pay stations, specifically:
"Imagine you are from the East Bay and have a meeting with someone at a downtown Palo Alto company. You arrive about 15 minutes before the meeting and drive to say City Hall garage to look for parking. You see all the permit only parking and the two hour parking, but then what? You know you will be more than two hours because your meeting will include lunch with the project team. You are running short of time, so you drive out of the garage and start towards the residential area where there is street parking. You arrive flustered and 5 minutes late for your meeting, and feel bad for Palo Alto.

Imagine the same scenario but instead you find a pay per hour machine in City Hall garage. You park, buy a ticket, and arrive at your meeting with 5 minutes to spare.

This is a scenario which happens in Palo Alto because of the fact that there is no pay per hour parking machines. Get some and see the difference."

Question: can you refer a city which has them and where they work well?

Comment: The PPT that accompanied the presentation by staff on Monday night indicated that garages may have gate management controls with walk n Pay Stations - I'm not entirely clear as to how they would work and how they would contrast with on-street pay stations. I thin the council needs to direct staff to look at pay strategies because this is the only one - and I think it would only apply if you parked more than 3 hrs.


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Posted by tired
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 7:32 pm

To MONEY GRAB:

If it really was just a "small group" who got the CT parking, we in Professorville have got to find out their secret! There are over 60 of us on a committee mailing list and we've been asking for parking relief for the past four years. Please send those "couple people" you mention over here asap.

And just what "rules and state laws" were broken? Please be specific and let us know how neighboring cities and many cities with historic neighborhoods can blatantly break the law so frequently with no legal ramifications.

And whether we're talking $50, or $80, or $100 or $200, it is still a bargain for many of us without on-site parking who have to park 5 or 6 blocks away because downtown employees and landlords don't want to pay for parking. When we did a survey of neighbors, many people were willing to go higher. When you have older or disabled friends or workers who come to your house on a regular basis, it is a real quality of life issue.


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Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 14, 2011 at 7:47 pm

Just keep voting for the the city council members, or candidates from the same circle of people, and you'll make as progress as you have over the last four years on this issue - no progress at all.


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Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 14, 2011 at 9:06 pm

The neighborhood/worker bee/student parking problem has been a problem for ALL cities.

Everyone goes for the cheapest, BARELY LEGAL solutions.

Residential Permit Parking is the only solution that works. You have to offer a better solution to the other egalitarian WHINERS though. Kiosk type parking, along with a PROPER fee structure parking setup for those unused parking garages downtown with BICYCLE KIOSK stations will serve everyone.

Web Link

That works, along with a daily, weekly and monthly REASONABLE parking garage fee system..

To all the WHINERS: start paying all the fees ( still taxes, BTW ) and property taxes and you have a voice in this matter. Til then, take your specious arguments elsewhere...


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Posted by Michael Vilain
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 9:56 pm

To "resident of Professorville":

I've been taking pictures every time I'm there. This last week someone had already moved the cones and parked. Won't take a dare. It was the advise of the "meter maid" who was driving around chalking tires and writing tickets closer to downtown. The woman actually saw me taking pictures. I'm so ready to have her call the PAPD and see what happens.


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Posted by IT WAS A MONEY GRAB
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 16, 2011 at 10:30 am

From the one who normally signs name but will not in this case:

I don't bring up the problem unless I have the solution. Here it is:

Just put up the Permit Parking signs in front of the effected residence HOME. 95% of the folks in our block did not want it and signed a petition (and an opt-out one too), but to date we have not been given that promised option). We never had the issue of not finding a parking place in front of our own residence.

As they told us in Marine Corps Boot Camp, "Don't make the whole Platoon pay for . . ."

Once again, for the folks who can't find parking in front of their house, have them go on permit parking and pay the quarterly cost (and tickets of their reletives or friends who mistakenly park there). You may find from all the costs you'll have to pay, it may not be worth it. Or maybe not.

For some reason, unamed folks on this forum were writing what a problem it was, but, as stated on my own street, in the heart of CT (Princeton and College), we never had that problem.

I'm not suggesting that it was a plant, but certainly before a plan - or any plan is instituted, there should be positive verification of the number of affected folks involved.

Thank you.


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

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