News

Parking program brings hope, anxiety to downtown Palo Alto

Some wonder if the first phase of long-awaited permit system goes far enough

For downtown residents who have watched their streets transform into commuter parking lots over the past decade, the trial of the century will begin next month.

That's when the city launches what is known as the Residential Preferential Program. That's also when officials expect commuters who for years have been parking their cars on the residential streets of Downtown North and Professorville to radically shift their behavior -- though no one is quite sure exactly what this shift will look like.

"We're going to see drastic changes in parking habits," the city's Transportation Planning Manager Jessica Sullivan told about 60 people who attended a public meeting at City Hall on Tuesday. "I know there's a huge fear of, 'It's going to be the same thing. People will buy permits and park close to downtown and nothing will change.' I'd be surprised if nothing changes. When you introduce pricing to any parking system, behavior changes dramatically."

The program was prompted by years of complaints from downtown residents whose blocks are routinely used by area employees who prefer to avoid the two- and three-hour parking restrictions prevalent in downtown's commercial core. The thriving downtown economy has worsened the problem, with separate surveys conducted by city planners and citizens showing numerous blocks oversaturated with cars during the weekdays hours. In some cases, the number of cars is greater than the number of parking spaces, which connotes both congestion and creativity.

But even though the new program aims to provide some relief by making workers buy permits, anxieties persist. Some residents at Tuesday's meeting wondered whether the first six-month phase of the program would have any effect and called for the city to impose more stringent limits on permits sold to employees.

Others wondered whether the new restrictions would just push cars to areas outside the permit area, which is roughly bounded by Palo Alto Avenue on the north, Lincoln Avenue on the south (a small portion of the district, between Alma and Bryant streets, juts out south past Lincoln, to Embarcadero Road), Alma Street on the west, and Guinda Street on the east.

One goal the program is almost certain to achieve is the removal of cars that belong to Caltrain commuters or Stanford University students from residential streets. Because these riders will not be eligible to receive permits, they will lose their ability to park for free in the neighborhoods and then proceed to their destinations.

The only people who would be able to acquire permits will be residents and downtown workers. Employers would also have to be registered in the city's new business registry to be eligible for permits.

As the program's name implies, residents will take priority. Each household will be able to acquire up to four free permits with an option of buying visitor permits for $25 each. Employees will be able to buy permits to park on the residential blocks for either $233 or $50, depending on income level.

The city will begin selling permits online on Aug. 15 and buyers will be required to show proof of downtown residency or employment, said Sue-Ellen Atkinson, the city's parking operations lead. They will be available at cityofpaloalto.org/parking.

Both residents and employees will have to start displaying their permits starting Sept. 15. After a two-week warning period, cars that don't have permits and that park in the permit district for longer than two hours will be subject to a $53 citation. The program will be enforced by Serco, Inc.

The new parking restrictions will be in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. between Monday and Friday.

In most cases, the permits would have to be affixed to vehicles. But the city will also offer hang-tag permits that residents' visitors and downtown employees will be able to hang on their mirrors and transfer to other drivers.

"Someone who works in the morning can use it in morning and then transfer it to someone who works the afternoon shift," Atkinson said.

Residents and employees will have the option of buying a day permit for $5. This means workers who usually take the train to work but need to drive once in a while will be able to buy the one-day passes and park on the streets.

Once in place, the program would address an issue that over the past three years has received more attention from the City Council than just about any other. To address downtown's parking shortage, the council has recently formed the Transportation Management Association, a nonprofit to work with employers to reduce reliance on cars; approved an expansion of city-run shuttles; introduced valet programs at downtown garages; and began planning for a new garage.

Yet no single measure has attracted as much effort or scrutiny as the parking-permit program. The city's previous effort to establish a parking-permit program focused on a portion of Professorville and fizzled in 2012, after a backlash from residents who argued that the program would only bump the problem to the adjacent neighborhood.

The new program targets a wider area and includes a larger array of permits and options for residents and workers. It was designed after nearly a year of meetings by a stakeholder group that included downtown residents and employers. And while the prior program died at the dais, the new one was unanimously approved by the City Council in December.

The city plans to evaluate the results in the first phase and then consider whether to cap the number of permits sold to employees in the next phase, which is set to begin on March 30. Sullivan also said that it's likely that in the future, the permits would designate which specific blocks the cars can park at, thus ensuring that employees' vehicles are spread out throughout downtown. These restrictions do not, however, exist in the first phase.

Resident Deanna Dickman was one of several residents who suggested that the program would be more effective if the number of permits designated for employees was limited from the start.

"As we grow, as more people belong to the business registry and as more and more are registered, there is more and more opportunity for them to buy permits. ... It's better to cap it. We'd feel secure," she said.

Dickman also pointed out that without color zones or any types of mechanisms to ensure non-residents' cars are dispersed, most employees will choose the blocks closest to the downtown core.

"That means all the blocks closer to downtown will have all the workers," Dickman said.

Other audience members suggested that drivers may seek solace in residential neighborhoods just outside the boundary. The program would thus shift the problem rather than solve it.

Sullivan noted that the city will pay attention to the changes in driving behavior and factor them into the design of the second phase. The entire program, Sullivan reminded the audience, is a trial.

"We're really trying to focus on the fact that this is a trial and it's absolutely open to change," she said. "If it turns out several hundred people are parking outside the boundary and impacting the neighborhood, this will be evaluated," Sullivan said.

Comments

15 people like this
Posted by ex-Chair Massage Person
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2015 at 1:50 am

When I worked at Whole Foods and all the signs went up for a ballot measure to limit non-resident street parking, I kept wondering how any sort of permit system could accommodate someone like me who only worked part time a couple days a week, sometimes during the day and others into the evenings and the tech workers in the various offices.

I asked around at the Apple Store, various people I worked with, and at the Peets across the way. The consensus was that if non-professional people like the baristas, store clerks, waiter staff, and other non-professionals had to pay for parking, they'd find jobs elsewhere. How could Apple, Whole Foods, and all the restaurants staff their businesses? I know if I had to pay more than $20/4hr shift to park, I couldn't afford to work in downtown.

Bravo. What's finally emerged some 2 years later is a workable system that includes all those who can't pay $200+/mo for parking. i'm sure the Whole Foods associates, baristas, and waitstaff are breathing easier.

Maybe the Apple Employee's "find parking" app won't need to be written...


4 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Aug 5, 2015 at 5:43 am

@ex-Chair Massage Person - Relax. Permits for non-professional people are $50 for six months. Employers also have options to buy transferable permits for their part time employees.


13 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 8:45 am

Kudos to all people who have worked so hard to bring this enormous effort this far. Thank you, City Council, for supporting your election promise.

Parking is a cost of doing business. As such, I believe it is up to the businesses to pay for the parking permits for their employees.


6 people like this
Posted by Merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 5, 2015 at 8:55 am

Why can't employees park free in the empty parking garages?


7 people like this
Posted by survival mode
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2015 at 9:48 am

Through reckless overdevelopment land use and zoning polices and practice
by our Council and staff here, and on top of this a drought and water supply issue which threatens to produce its own dire outcome, we have shifted into a survival mode here in Palo Alto however you look at it. The
game has changed. The Downtown parking program needs to be worked out in its details balancing interests as much as possible in this context as imbalances and collateral damage continue to increase and spread.


13 people like this
Posted by Again
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 5, 2015 at 9:54 am

Since this started 1/2 of the neighbors on our block park one car on the street. We paid a lot to live under this regime. This is just a useless encumbrance with no profit and only fees. There weren't any extra cars or problems parking on our block. I'm glad the true professorville residents had the guts to reject the waste of money and time. What we the gerrymandered vote? 728 to 738. Some of the proponents of this plan don't even think who their own families visit in the city and where they park.

I'm sorry everybody was conned by a city council incapable of including ample parking with new developments. If only there was an out of business grocery store here with free parking.

Charging employees as a cost of doing business here is one thing. Look how well it worked for our former big names. Charge residents? To park in front of their house? Residential permits should be based on vehicle registrations, checked by the city, sent to residents unlimited, at no cost. We pay for registration, insurance, and the taxes that built these streetss.

Funny how this is a new issue and after it passes less cars are on the street.its almost normal. The hardest place to park is downtown. What changed???


8 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2015 at 10:03 am

Anyone in downtown going to sell their permit or rent the space on their driveway?

Could make a packet, just like airbnb.


8 people like this
Posted by Downtown Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 5, 2015 at 10:16 am

@Again - did you read the article?
Very clearly

>Each household will be able to acquire up to four free permits


So your comment makes no sense (" Charge residents? To park in front of their house? ")

Suggest you read the actual article instead of ignorant complaining


11 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 5, 2015 at 11:42 am

As a weekly Volunteer at Lytton Gardens/Webster House, the thing that bother me the most is that Management there has not said one word about this. I have found out I can be issued a visitor pass, but I have not the faintest idea who might be doing this at this facility. I have not heard of any of the employees talking about this, and wonder if those who do not live anywhere near Palo Alto are even aware of this up coming event. Since I bring 2 small dogs to visit patients, I can not take the bus or shuttle from my neighborhood. The dogs are tired after visiting, and the often 3 block walk to the car is additional effort. But the patients are usually smiling as I leave, so I know I have done something to cheer them.


1 person likes this
Posted by Ignorance is bliss
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2015 at 12:04 pm

@Downtown Resident

"So your comment makes no sense (" Charge residents? To park in front of their house? ")
Suggest you read the actual article instead of ignorant complaining"

Hmmm....you should take your own advice:

"In the second phase, the city will .. begin charging residents $50 each for the permits. "


Ideally the program would be cost-neutral so the cost of the permits will rise/fall to cover the "cost of enforcement - cost recovered through enforcement".


9 people like this
Posted by Former SF Resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Four permits per household seems like a lot - very generous. And kind of amazing that it's free. Guess perspective is everything - when I lived in San Francisco, it was a given that you pay for the privilege of parking your car on the street in your neighborhood, and many factor in the cost of parking tickets into their monthly budgets.

For commuters using CalTrain, a $5 daily fee seems reasonable. If CalTrain can't provide adequate spots for commuters using their stations, good for the city to take matters into their own hands.

Even though I no longer live in the area, I'm curious to see how this unfolds. People coming into the neighborhood to shop, dine, and for services are contributing to the local economy. And I'm glad there's a solution in place for many of the workers who keep those establishments running.


11 people like this
Posted by Kenagain
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2015 at 2:41 pm

Why don't the papers ID the real culprits - the property owners/developers who do not pay for or provide parking needed for their $7.50 per square foot per month buildings (one of the highest rents in the Nation)? The owners of course like being subsidized by Palo Alto residents, and City officials apparently want to continue the subsidy, and pass costs on to employees, employers and residents. Come to think of it why don't the employees and employers demand owner accountability?


12 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2015 at 3:29 pm

Let's remember that the vote for the permit program was very very close and the city had to resort to see gerrymandering, by excluding a region, in order to get a very slim majority.
A perfect example of a squeaky wheel getting greased by an out of touch city council


22 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 5, 2015 at 3:47 pm

This is a great policy for those who live in the downtown area and anywhere near it. All day when most people are at work and don't need parking near their homes. It is absolutely terrible for Palo Alto residents and property owners who live in any other part of town.
The neighborhood where I live is not served by the Palo Alto shuttle. Therefore, I would need to walk over 0.6 mile to get a bus that will cost me. The schedules of the busses are irregular at best.
As a senior this puts me at a significant disadvantage whenever I want to shop downtown. Of course the City has carefully driven out all the more interesting shops and replaced them with places that are chains or serve only the 20-somethings.
The City should provide free parking passes for all residents of the city.


4 people like this
Posted by Johnny
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2015 at 4:38 pm

T for your new meter maid enterprise. I support extortion thru parking tickets and permits.


Like this comment
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 5, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Sunshine - When you go downtown to shop, why are you parking in the residential neighborhoods outside downtown? Why don't you just go park downtown in the business district, on the street, or in a lot, or in a garage? All will still be available for free.


11 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

What happens if my family wants to watch a movie at the Aquarius Theater? Where would we park?


13 people like this
Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 5, 2015 at 8:09 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

What I mean: Is there a map that clearly illustrates all of the parking in the downtown area?

What happens when we go to visit friends who live in the neighborhoods just off of the downtown area? How do we park if we are going to go and spend time with them?

I'm not asking to be whiny or anything. I just would like to know how this will work for city residents who want to visit friends or local businesses.


8 people like this
Posted by easong
a resident of another community
on Aug 5, 2015 at 9:34 pm

I'm a frequent visitor to downtown, though not a city resident. I see a lot of complaining here about how diverse locally owned businesses can't survive downtown for long before they are turned into law or other professional offices. Making the low wage employees pay fees, or the owners of restaurants pay fees for them, is going to exacerbate this condition. Business employees who make under $15/hr should get free parking permits. Local residents own their home and their driveway, but not the city street in front of their property. Any destination city gets it.


3 people like this
Posted by Monkey wrench
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 6, 2015 at 11:28 am

The requirement that businesses already be on the Business Registry is a nice monkey wrench the City Manager has tossed into the wheels.
He already has hired consultants, added delays, and even Traffic Management consultants to do what the police have said they could do.

The city could have added to the Business Registry from the parking applications. But that would be efficient so it is ruled out. Do the reverse and cause delay.

Anything to stop RPP from happening (and if it costs alot, so much the better).


Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Aug 6, 2015 at 11:39 am

The permits for low-income workers are dirt cheap.
You are barking up the wrong tree.


Like this comment
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Aug 6, 2015 at 11:42 am

Monkey wrench,
This is an example of a reasonable control.
What is you beef?
Do you really live in Downtown North? why do most of your neighbors strongly support RPP?


4 people like this
Posted by Monkey wrench
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 6, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Chris, you misunderstood my post.
I am in favor of RPP. I am opposed to the constant impediments and big spending by the Manager which appear to be counter productive, increase the bureauocracy (his subordinates) and atop progress. Delays delays, delays.


4 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 6, 2015 at 6:25 pm

There is severe shortage of street parking in downtown.
So we are going to fix the problem by limiting parking to residents only
...and sell permits to everyone else.
So there will still be an acute shortage of parking, but with much additional revenue going to the city coffers.

And that solves the parking problem how?

@Resident wrote:

"Anyone in downtown going to sell their permit or rent the space on their driveway?"

Say, that's not a bad idea...


6 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 6, 2015 at 6:48 pm

@Former SF Resident wrote:

"Four permits per household seems like a lot - very generous. And kind of amazing that it's free. Guess perspective is everything - when I lived in San Francisco, it was a given that you pay for the privilege of parking your car on the street in your neighborhood, and many factor in the cost of parking tickets into their monthly budgets."

How long do you think those four free permits per household are going to remain free? It is only a matter of time before the city starts charging for all parking permits. This permit program is really a new tax in disguise.


6 people like this
Posted by Hal
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 7, 2015 at 12:35 am

The parking program doesn't seem to cover our situation, which I am guessing is typical.

We own a house in the new permit area. Normally we park our 2 cars in our driveway. But every now and then we have some repair work done, and they need the driveway for a day or two, so we move the cars to the street. Or we have visitors with cars, and they park on the street.

So we account for maybe 30 car-days of street parking per year. But we will have to buy enough permits to cover say 4 cars, in case we are unlucky enough to have two visitors and repair work at the same time. (The resident's permits are initially free, but the plan is to charge for them after the first 6 months.)

When we buy these 4 permits, we will be paying the same as a household that keeps 4 cars on the street every day. But we won't have 4 cars on the street every day. We will have 4 cars on the street once in a blue moon. We don't need *yearly* permits; we need *daily* permits. Some sort of scratch-off thing would be fine.


4 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 7, 2015 at 12:59 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

@ Hal - first, you get one pass free, so that's one down. You can buy 1 pass for yourself for $50. You can buy a visitor pass for $5 "once in a blue moon". So, not so bad, right?


9 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 7, 2015 at 11:57 am

I was a graduate student at San Jose State University when the city of San Jose decided to make the University South neighborhood permit only for parking. Suddenly all the parked cars vanished.
Graduate students, lower paid employees, etc now how to pay to park. This put a significant burden on low income students. It also caused many hard feelings when you could see that no one was parked on the street. There were loads of spaces for residents, but no one needed them.
Now Palo Alto is following suit.
This new rule will make it difficult for those seniors who live in other parts of town, especially those areas such as Barron Park that are not served by the city shuttle, to visit restaurants, businesses, friends, see a movie. As Palo Alto residents we should each receive at least one free permit per household. I have paid taxes as a Palo Alto resident for over 40 years, now I am denied parking in my own town.
To add insult to injury, most of the residences in the area covered by the noxious new rule have garages and driveways where those residents can park. Clearly this ordinance is designed to that they will always have an open view from their home.
The new system will discourage residents from other parts of Palo Alto from patronizing downtown businesses. Guess I'll start shopping in Los Altos or Mountain View. The shops and restaurants are more interesting anyway, but there are no movie theatres.


13 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 7, 2015 at 1:37 pm

@sunshine wrote:

"As Palo Alto residents we should each receive at least one free permit per household. I have paid taxes as a Palo Alto resident for over 40 years, now I am denied parking in my own town."

But that is missing the point, unless one favors logic and reason over emotion and knee-jerk reactions. Some Downtown residents want to keep folks like you out of their neighborhoods. They want a solution that pits Downtown and the other Palo Alto neighborhoods against one another. Shame on them! It is anti-PA and anti-community, to say the least. The city wants the extra tax revenue plain and simple.

My take is that the parking permit program is a stab in the back to PA residents outside of downtown and also to the downtown merchants. If you are denied parking on streets for which you helped pay, you should get a tax refund. To be paid for, of course, by Downtown residents, including me. Seriously. I would say scrap the inexcusable parking permit program, but the cities are often loathe to forfeit a revenue stream.

"To add insult to injury, most of the residences in the area covered by the noxious new rule have garages and driveways where those residents can park. Clearly this ordinance is designed to that they will always have an open view from their home."

Yup, and the negative impacts seem to be irrelevant in their view. Noxious doesn't even begin to describe it. It seems quite selfish to me, and has pitted downtown residents against one another.

"The new system will discourage residents from other parts of Palo Alto from patronizing downtown businesses. Guess I'll start shopping in Los Altos or Mountain View. The shops and restaurants are more interesting anyway, but there are no movie theatres."

That is what I do now, and I live downtown. Mountain View and Los Altos are both more upscale now than Palo Alto. There is a movie theater in Palo Alto Square, if that is any consolation.


30 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 7, 2015 at 3:18 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

ROTFLMFAO!!

Mountain View USED to have a theatre downtown. Everyone went to BETTER MOVIE THEATERS in Palo Alto! Even the original Sears shopping center had one! I went to the MIDNIGHT showing of the RHPS, so I am not a " virgin " anymore.

My, how times have changed for the " intellectuals " of Palo Alto. You are finally having to face REAL WORLD PROBLEMS in your city limits.
Remember LLOYD'S TOWING?

Since the Denver Metro Area started working parking meters, businesses have had to pay for the employees parking permits or provide parking at their place of businesses. Yes, several Residential Areas near DU HAVE meters and a " FEED THE METER LAW " is enforced to keep students parking in several large parking garages on the DU campus. I can't sympathize because I had to pay for parking in SJSU campus garages too.

The future as I see it ( it has been problems already encountered in the real world )

Issuance of HANDICAPPED PLACARDS WILL SOAR! STEALING of those placards will keep the PAPD busy for a long time.

Selling of those 4 per household permits will become the latest underground economy, just like MJ sales in PA did when I was still a teenager. That problem went " Up In Smoke " after Prop. 64 was passed in CO. ( there are multiple PUNS in that reference, which reflect my name ).

Anytime a CO visitor comes to visit, seed may be the new currency used to buy permit time.

Establish a DAILY EARLY-BIRD PARKING FEE or FREE PARKING HOURS for the people who work downtown. THAT is how Denver Metro Area Cities keep their parking garages full. The same apples to RTD Light Rail. That free may become FEE based parking as it is so full that nearby shopping centers have complained about freeloaders taking up remote areas of parking lots that were empty nost of the time. RTD Light Rail STOPS ARE DOWNTOWN and meet the needs of the poorest sector.

If VTA had been built out alon the old SP tracks, tit would see an immediate jump in ridership instead of empty trains it has now.

Think " out of the box ( of the P.A city limits ) for examples of what works in the USA and around the world.

Sitting and complaining in the dark does nothing. Light a candle ( or an LED lightbulb ) and look at what works.


2 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 7, 2015 at 5:16 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@sunshine & @ kazu - you can still park for 2 hours in a permit zone, without a permit. 90% of the complaints here need the classic internet response of RTFM.

From the city FAQ:

3) Will I need a permit to park in the Downtown RPP district all the time?

No. You will be able to park for up to 2 hours without a permit between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Weekends are also not restricted.

So have no hear seniors and downtown shoppers, it will actually be easier for you now, because you won't be competing for spaces with downtown employees who park all day.


8 people like this
Posted by Johnny
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Well aren't they generous to allow parking for two hours. Slow Down can you just admit that this is nothing but a predatory cash grab by the city and might please some downtown residents who will enjoy the peace and quiet and empty unused stretches of curb to continue living in their pristine, perfect little Palo Alto fantasy world? It's okay if you support it for those reasons, but stop finding twisted justifications for the RPP which is based on incentives over reason.


5 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 7, 2015 at 7:06 pm

@Slow Down wrote:

"No. You will be able to park for up to 2 hours without a permit between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm, Monday through Friday. Weekends are also not restricted."

And how is that supposed to alleviate insufficient parking? If it does not, then why have the ordinance in the first place.

"So have no hear seniors and downtown shoppers, it will actually be easier for you now, because you won't be competing for spaces with downtown employees who park all day."

Except those downtown employees will have permits because they need someplace to park. They aren't going to magically disappear. So again, why have the ordinance?


6 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 7, 2015 at 8:10 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@ Kazu - "And how is that supposed to alleviate insufficient parking? If it does not, then why have the ordinance in the first place."

Because the primary issue is downtown workers parking on residential streets for the full work day

"Except those downtown employees will have permits because they need someplace to park."

That's why the number of permits will be limited, if the price alone doesn't lower the number of all day parkers. I don't think the city should sell any employee permits, but it is a compromise to get the ball rolling.


10 people like this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 9, 2015 at 1:31 pm

@Slow Down wrote:

"Because the primary issue is downtown workers parking on residential streets for the full work day"

No, it's not. The biggest problem is the lack of overnight parking. Most of those parking on the street are residents, many of whom commute to work in the morning. Downtown residents who work downtown or are Stanford students typically walk or bike. If they have a car, it will then remain parked during the day. The only people who would benefit from such a policy are retirees and housewives. Harming the many to benefit the few is bad policy and highly counterproductive. So is pitting neighbor against neighbor and neighborhood against neighborhood, which is exactly what the parking permit program does.

"That's why the number of permits will be limited, if the price alone doesn't lower the number of all day parkers. I don't think the city should sell any employee permits, but it is a compromise to get the ball rolling."

Unless, of course, we do want to keep downtown workers out of downtown. Such a policy will serve to harm already beleaguered downtown merchants and restaurants. Why would anyone in their right mind want to do that?


20 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 9, 2015 at 5:16 pm

"Why can't employees park free in the empty parking garages?"

Because the city designated those as pay parking spaces to bring in revenue. There's no revenue if we let people use them for free.


11 people like this
Posted by Marian
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 9, 2015 at 10:33 pm

In 18 years living at Bryant and Kingsley, I have only found it hard to park on the street once a year during a big Stanford football game. This is unnecessary for that block and I regret it is part of the program.


6 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Aug 11, 2015 at 6:21 am

@Kazu says, "Unless, of course, we do want to keep downtown workers out of downtown...."

The RPPP does not limit the number of downtown workers who want to park in the adjacent neighborhoods. Phase 1 is designed to rid the neighborhoods of overflow Stanford parking and overflow Caltrain parking. Phase 2 rules haven't been fully flushed out. It depends on the success, or lack their of, of the phase 1 trail.


11 people like this
Posted by hammer and nut
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 11, 2015 at 7:27 am

@Marian,

Unfortunately, putting the RPPP elsewhere WOULD move all the parking to your block.

This is the fundamental problem. In order to alleviate a few blocks around University, they are forcing entire neighborhoods to take on RPPP. Not only that, they don't include blocks close to downtown beyond Middlefield so you know where all that parking will end up.

It really should be RPPP for everyone or noone. This piecemeal approach is pathetic.


2 people like this
Posted by survival mode
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2015 at 9:30 am

The shuttle system has the potential to spread the growing parking
problem all over the neighborhoods. The City has lost control of its future.
Bad policy on a scale we have experienced here has consequences.




Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2015 at 9:46 am

It what the above poster, Survival Mode, proves true, it would be best to extend the shuttle to the Baylands and use the parking lots already there at the athletic fields.


8 people like this
Posted by Anneke
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 11, 2015 at 11:54 am

1. Nearly 10 years ago, a small group of neighbors in Professorville started to notice a very significant increase in daytime parking in their (our) beloved neighborhood.
2. This group of neighbors did a lot of good research (i.e., checking the occupancy of the downtown garages several times per day and discovering they were half empty, counting the number of incoming parked cars over several months and then years, finding out where the people worked; and then submitting all the results of their thorough research to the City Staff and City Council of that time.
3. Unfortunately, none of the research and the results were taken seriously, and this unfortunate attitude has been the main root cause of all the severe unhappiness of many people with different opinions.
4. If the City Staff and the City Council had been receptive and proactive at that time, they would have put proper development with parking policies in place. However, they did not, and hence we reached a crisis and totally unbalanced situation.
5. In the present time, where cars are the main mode of transportation, I do not blame the "parkers" for driving to work, and for parking and over parking in our neighborhood. If you were to blame the parkers, it sounds as though they are committing a criminal act. No so at all!
6. Instead, it is a "parking" problem, which clearly refers to a city process that failed everyone.
7. Yes, we can blame the developers, and sometimes I do wonder how much money they are after, but, again, I can only point to the City process that allowed these developers to build without any or not enough parking. It makes me wonder if there were any unofficial relationships in place between city employees and developers, and/or if city employees were not sensitive enough, as most do not live in Palo Alto.
8. The deep concern on over parking in the neighborhoods close to downtown does not only have to do with the number of parked cars.
9. Some other components include safety, as it is extremely difficult and hazardous to cross streets because of a severely limited view. I have seen many accidents at the crossing of Bryant Street and Lincoln Avenue because of this.
10. We also have many children in our neighborhoods who are at risk and who deserve to be safe.
11. As residents of Professorville, our one car has been hit multiple times with a great deal of damage. As a result of one accident (our car was parked on the street, since we have no driveway), it took a full year to get reimbursed by the other party's insurance (about $12,000), since the driver did not own the car that hit us, and the insurance plan for that car was a plan for high-risk drivers. It involved a lot of paperwork and time.
11. Each day a number of car alarms goes off and increases the noise (in addition to being under the flight paths of many planes.)

In summary, we need a balanced and less emotional situation: downtown parking garages that are safe and filled, developer policies that provide adequate parking when they develop downtown, homeowners who use their driveways and garages, and a City Staff and Council that do their utmost to provide this healthy balance.


2 people like this
Posted by Pogo
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 11, 2015 at 12:51 pm

We have met the enemy and he is us. I'd like to point out to those who complain about residents who want to park on public streets as if they were private property, in the mid-70's in Arlington VA, they had a similar problem and got so-called "privileged" parking. It was reversed when someone (or a group) took it to court and won. It went all the way to the United States Supreme Court where the reversal was overturned. The Court ruled that if over-parking ruined the "essential character of a neighborhood" the neighborhood had the right to have permit parking to keep the neighborhood uncrowded, SAFE, and be a neighborhood, not a parking lot. The "essential character of a neighborhood" has since been used in court by many cities over the years, ironically by Palo Alto in (I believe the 1950's) to refuse permission for a communal living community since it would have changed the essential character of the neighborhood where they wanted to live. It takes a little work, but it is all available information on line. Start with Arlington v Richards. No one went to court and compromises were made. This is a test. It may get tweaked. Whatever, the sky will not fall.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 11, 2015 at 1:09 pm

"3. Unfortunately, none of the research and the results were taken seriously..."

Oh you Innocents! You left out the most basic ingredient.

The city council was indeed kistening, to people with names like Baer, Keenan, Rapp, Ross, and Thoits. Their campaign gifts obviously far exceeded those of your committee.


6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 11, 2015 at 2:41 pm

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence."


2 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 11, 2015 at 4:13 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Danke, Anneke.

The main problem involved here is MONEY. You have part of the infrastructure already built. City Hall just wants any revenue stream, so the parking garage stays empty. No cars off the street, no revenue created by that empty parking garage.

I told P.A. what to do: Add FREE OR DISCOUNTED PARKING FOR EARLYBIRDS. That WORKS FOR DOWNTOWN DENVER! Just offer those " cheap seats " at the upper levels in your city-owned garage. Nobody likes those spaces ( too inconvenient ) and most of the time will stay empty.


VTA SHOULD BE BUILT OUT ALONG THE OLD SP RIGHT OF WAY.

That may need P.A. to play a bit of hardball with the VTA B of D and demand they FINISH THE JOB THAT BART WAS SUPPOSED TO DO.


6 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 11, 2015 at 4:41 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Walt Kelley created Pogo the Possum. Albert the Alligator. Churchy LaFemme, Howland Owl and others They lived in the Okefenokee Swamp.

His most recognized strip is on Wiki. Please refer to Walt Kelley's creation in the Pogo comic strip of my day.

Please refer to the phrase " We have met the Enemy and He is Us " as satire from Walt Kelly on the scourge of pollution.

It is only right to mention his name. He was the cartoon analogue of Woody Guthrie of that time in history. Arlo was his son, made famous in his protest of the Vietnam War, following in Daddy's footsteps.

Remember History.
it does repeat.


7 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2015 at 4:47 pm

Well, anneke , it may have been a problem for you, but when it came to a vote the decision to go with permit parking barely passed ( and the vote had to be gerrymandered by removing an area from the final count in order to get the slimmest of majorities)
So, bottom line, this was not really a major problem, but it allows the council to claim that they listen to the public ( well only certain members of the public)


1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2015 at 5:05 pm

One more idea (alongside pay per hour machines and 30 minute only parking outside retail) would be to make all lots and garages free after 3.00 pm. This would encourage people to come to downtown for shopping, happy hour, and help those who work the late shift in restaurants, as well as enabling those who wish to pay for occasional all day parking to pay to park.

Since the lots are free after 5.00 anyway, just altering this to after 3.00 may encourage those who want to spend late afternoon/evening visiting downtown to do so.


16 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 11, 2015 at 5:32 pm

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence."

Seasoned observers usually reverse that.


8 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 11, 2015 at 6:33 pm

If you meet a friend for lunch and a movie, it takes more than 2 hours. If you have a professional appointment it often requires almost 2 hours leaving no time for anything else.
The new rules make it impossible to combine errands on one trip.


Like this comment
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 11, 2015 at 7:27 pm

@Mike wrote:

"The RPPP does not limit the number of downtown workers who want to park in the adjacent neighborhoods. Phase 1 is designed to rid the neighborhoods of overflow Stanford parking and overflow Caltrain parking."

Most of the cars parked on the streets overnight are residents, and RPPP will not change that one bit. Caltrain and Stanford Parking only affect a small portion of the permit area, so again it will have no effect in the remainder. That remainder area is substantial, and won't see any benefit from permit restrictions.

The original push for the permit parking areas was to keep out downtown employees. It was claimed that they were preventing residents from parking in front of their homes. If the permit program lets employees park in the restricted zones, then daytime parking conditions won't change much. If downtown employees are banned from parking downtown, it will cause substantial harm to local businesses. The permit program is a no-win situation. Except for the city, of course, which will see increased revenue from the permit fees / parking tax.

"Phase 2 rules haven't been fully flushed out. It depends on the success, or lack their of, of the phase 1 trail."

Oh, that's lovely... we've passed an ordinance, but we don't know exactly what it is going to be yet. If that isn't a recipe for disaster, I don't know what is.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 11, 2015 at 9:24 pm

@Curm, touché.


8 people like this
Posted by Counterclockwise
a resident of University South
on Aug 11, 2015 at 10:15 pm

"Oh, that's lovely... we've passed an ordinance, but we don't know exactly what it is going to be yet. If that isn't a recipe for disaster, I don't know what is."

Well, it puts City Hall in a definitely familiar situation.


6 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Aug 12, 2015 at 7:13 am

@Kasu wrote, "Most of the cars parked on the streets overnight are residents, and RPPP will not change that one bit. Caltrain and Stanford Parking only affect a small portion of the permit area, so again it will have no effect in the remainder. That remainder area is substantial, and won't see any benefit from permit restrictions."

AGREED! I live close to University Avenue as my neighborhood above shows. I expect no relief. Also, those who live in the commercial zone will get absolutely no benefit.

@Kasu wrote, "The original push for the permit parking areas was to keep out downtown employees."

I agree with you here too. Since the RPPP will cost the same as the downtown parking structures, the hope is the downtown employees will buy those permits instead.


6 people like this
Posted by Cheryl Lilienstein
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 12, 2015 at 11:39 am

Thank you to Anneke for making the distinction between parking (which is the problem) and parkers.

Thank you Pogo for reminding us the Supreme Court ruled ruled that if over-parking ruined the "essential character of a neighborhood" the neighborhood had the right to have permit parking to keep the neighborhood uncrowded, SAFE, and be a neighborhood, not a parking lot.

Thank you to those residents who are worried about parking when visiting friends. You bring up an important need that we should honor, yet don't.

I believe we want a city in which inhabitants have easy access to the things that make life wonderful: safety, friendships, community, open space, entertainment. This might mean that we need a much broader city-wide ordinance that allows RESIDENTS to park on any city street, but requires commuting employees or transient drivers to use parking lots.

Given the Supreme Court ruling, it would seem possible to make an ordinance that retains the essential character of all Palo Alto neighborhoods by reserving street parking for residents or their visitors.

In neighborhoods this would result in better bike safety and safer places for kids.
Downtown and elsewhere, this would mean that developers would need to provide adequate parking, or their buildings would be less inviting to businesses. It would also incentivize businesses to develop transit solutions for employees.


Like this comment
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 12, 2015 at 1:14 pm

@Mike wrote:

"AGREED! I live close to University Avenue as my neighborhood above shows. I expect no relief. Also, those who live in the commercial zone will get absolutely no benefit."

Then there is no point in having the permit parking program, other than establishing a new tax.

"I agree with you here too. Since the RPPP will cost the same as the downtown parking structures, the hope is the downtown employees will buy those permits instead."

Again, this will have no effect on evening and nighttime parking. Most Palo Altans are at work during the day, and thus not affected by parking issues at that time. Discouraging people from coming downtown for lunch, dinner and shopping isn't a good idea.

Not to worry too much, though. Ordinances can always be repealed.


Like this comment
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 12, 2015 at 1:19 pm

@Cheryl Lilienstein wrote:

"This might mean that we need a much broader city-wide ordinance that allows RESIDENTS to park on any city street, but requires commuting employees or transient drivers to use parking lots."

That is part of the problem. Those downtown residents supporting the parking permit program are generally trying to keep outsiders out. "Outsider" being anybody not from their neighborhood. I think that is a terrible attitude, and one which threatens to balkanize Palo Alto. I agree completely that Palo Alto residents should be able to park on any street in Palo Alto. Your taxes paid for these streets and their maintenance just as much as anybody else's, so you have every right to park here.


8 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Aug 12, 2015 at 4:28 pm

I too would like to see the entire city of Palo Alto one big RPPP. Why can't I park in College Terrace all day? Why can't someone in Crescent Park park all day downtown? The color zones should be open for all day parking for Palo Alto residents.


4 people like this
Posted by Pogo
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 12, 2015 at 6:07 pm

" Your taxes paid for these streets and their maintenance just as much as anybody else's, so you have every right to park here."

Kazu, you are missing the point. No one is stopping the right to park. It is limiting the right to park because over-parking has changed the character of Professorville. We are not elitists, as we are characterized by some commenters (who live on streets that are not filled with cars from commuters). We want the neighborhood we moved into years ago when a downtown store had a half-dozen employees, not 50 or 60 people working hip-to-hip on laptops. To make the right for permit parking clear:

United States Supreme Court
ARLINGTON COUNTY BOARD v. RICHARDS, (1977)
No. 76-1418
Argued: Decided: October 11, 1977
Arlington County, Va., zoning ordinance prohibiting automobile commuters from parking in designated residential neighborhoods and providing for free parking permits for residents of such neighborhoods held not to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The distinction drawn between residents and nonresidents of a neighborhood is not invidious and rationally promotes the ordinance's stated legitimate objectives of reducing air pollution and other adverse consequences of automobile commuting, and of enhancing the quality of life in residential areas such as by reducing noise and traffic hazards.
Certiorari granted; 217 Va. 645, 231 S. E. 2d 231, vacated and remanded.

You may not like it, but there it is. We have an absolute right, according to the United States Constitution as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court, to have permit parking.

We could have hammered the city with the Supreme Court decision, but compromise was worked out over a long and arduous series of meetings because no one wanted to harm downtown business. It is not their fault. It certainly is not the fault of residents who saw the neighborhood slowly turning into a parking lot that we subsidize with our tax dollars. Recent members of the City Council are working to overcome poor decisions made by previous Councils that allowed developers free reign in development without parking.


4 people like this
Posted by Johnny
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 12, 2015 at 7:52 pm

Pogo, it may be your right according to some ancient scotus decision but the bottom line here is that parking is now criminalized. The biggest upshot of this is lots of innocent people getting slapped with outrageous parking tickets. The streets will flow with parking tickets, everywhere. [Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by what now
a resident of Addison School
on Aug 12, 2015 at 9:58 pm

Hi - does anyone know how this will affect the staff at addison school who rely upon street parking?
(the school lot can only accomodate so many cars)

The streets surrounding the school will be in a permit zone - only a couple hours allowed w/out permit.

Will there be a permit purchase program for them?


Like this comment
Posted by Pogo
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Ummm, Johnny, getting a parking ticket doesn't make one a criminal. "Ancient" or not it is the law and it is based on the United States Constitution, not the whim of a few judges. What's the difference between an outrageous parking ticket and a ticket for parking where parking is allowed under lawful conditions?

I promise to pick up the parking tickets that overflow on our street so there will not be unsightly clutter.


4 people like this
Posted by Johnny
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2015 at 5:36 pm

Pogo, have you paid attention to the news lately? Major decisions ARE based on the whims of judges based on how they interpret the Constitution.

Of course parking is now a crime. If someone is unable to make it back to their car in 2 hours they are treated like a criminal: they broke the law and must pay a fine, or face increasingly harsher penalties.

It's a desctructive, punitive system that exists just so you folks at "Professor ville" can pretend it's the 1970s again.


4 people like this
Posted by critical condition
a resident of University South
on Aug 19, 2015 at 6:22 pm

We have a professional office in Palo Alto that will be negatively impacted by the new parking restrictions. We think that your thoughts are well meaning but that you are not understanding the trouble and damage that you will be causing some small businesses. Many of our patients have procedures that exceed two hours. Sometimes it is hard to predict exactly how long some procedures will take. Patients who will be subjected to expensive tickets will be upset and will hold us responsible for paying them. We will lose business and we will be unable to make ends meet. Our long ago dream of having a practice in Palo Alto has become our worst nightmare. The cost of doing business in Palo Alto is becoming prohibitive. We can't afford to lose patients because of the permit rules that are going to take effect next month. Unfortunately we are unable to move to a better and more business friendly location because we are bound by another two years on our lease. Subletting is not an option in our case so we are stuck. It doesn't make any sense to us.
I think you would be best served to ban small business altogether in your pristine Palo Alto. I only wish we had had a crystal ball a few years ago. But rest assured, we will be gone in two years with warnings to anyone we might meet to steer clear of the city of Palo Alto.


3 people like this
Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2015 at 8:12 pm

@ critical condition - why don't you have parking for your patients? As a patient, I would expect any dental or medical professional I frequent to provide parking as part of their service to me as a patient. If your patients need to be in your office more than two hours, it should be part of your business model to provide parking for them. It is not the responsibility of the residents of Palo Alto to provide parking for your business.


2 people like this
Posted by Critical Condition
a resident of University South
on Aug 20, 2015 at 1:37 pm

To Resident. Your attitude is uncalled for. Did I say that we don't provide parking for our patients? Did I say that it is up to the residents of Palo Alto to provide our patients with parking? Our office is in a mixed business and residential area. Homeowners know this but choose to live there anyway.
In our case parrking at our bldg is shared with the landlord and her patients and our parking slot privilege is limited to 2. Until now, this has not been a problem since our patients have been able to find parking on the street if those two slots are taken. In order to run a business of any kind, we must think about our customers or in this case our patients first. As I pointed out in my first post, this is a change that we never expected when we signed our lease. As far as we are concerned the streets are public and can be utilized by the public.
We see patients only 2.5 days per week. The two hour limit will be a problem for some of our patients some of the time.
Your attitude is exactly what I was referring to when I said that perhaps it would be better some people like yourself if zoning did not allow businesses in residential areas of Palo Alto. It is pretty clear to me that you are unwilling to share.


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

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