Spurred by a flurry of complaints from the Professorville neighborhood, Palo Alto has formed a new community group to explore creating a parking-permit program in the downtown neighborhood.
If implemented, a permit program would set a time limit for how long non-residents can park in Professorville. Employees at downtown businesses frequently park in Professorville to avoid the time limits that are in place throughout the rest of downtown, residents said. The city already has one such program in place in College Terrace.
Despite heavy outcry from Professorville about inadequate downtown parking and numerous requests for a parking program, the City Council has been hesitant to implement a program out of fear that the parking problem would simply spread to other sections of downtown. The business community has expressed concern about the city making parking too difficult for employees.
But according to a new report from Jaime Rodriguez, the city's chief transportation officer, a parking program in Professorville is still on the table and could be put in place as early as next summer. Staff has created the Downtown Parking Community Group, which includes business representatives and Professorville residents, to "assess the impacts of parking on downtown residential areas and to develop recommendations for the Residential Permit Parking Program."
Rodriguez wrote that "staff will also seek input from other neighborhoods, particularly Downtown North, but the focus of this effort will be Professorville, since there is a strong core interest among residents there."
Residents of the historic Professorville neighborhood, which lies south of downtown, have long urged the city to adopt a parking program. Many of the houses in the century-old district don't have garages, and residents have been complaining that finding parking near their homes has become nearly impossible in recent years.
Ken Alsman, a leading proponent of the parking program, argued in an August letter to the council that a residential-parking permit program is the only way to ameliorate the neighborhood's problem.
"We are now inundated with strangers everyday; we question our safety; we remove their litter; we don't recognize what was once, just a short time ago, an absolutely wonderful area that we have all worked to restore," he wrote.
The group will hold its first meeting tonight (Thursday).
Staff's plan is to work with the community group in the coming months and to come back to the council for a decision about the parking program in July. The program, according to Rodriguez, would be revenue neutral.