News

Parking program has instant impact in downtown Palo Alto

Congestion relief and permit frustrations characterize rollout of long-awaited Residential Preferential Parking program

It took years for Palo Alto to launch its downtown parking-permit program and just hours for Palo Alto resident Ian Irwin to notice his block's transformation.

"It seems like a miracle," said Irwin, who lives on Cowper Street and Homer Avenue, an area that he describes as "chaotic" in terms of traffic and parking. "Maybe it's Labor Day week. Maybe it's because Stanford is out. Both in traffic calming and in parking, the street has changed since the signs went up. It's kind of amazing"

The signs he is referring to are the roughly 800 that were installed in downtown's residential areas over the past month and that were unveiled Tuesday, when the city's Residential Preferential Parking program went into effect.

Each proclaims the area to be a two-hour parking zone, unless cars have a parking permit. On Tuesday, the city's contracted enforcement team was patrolling neighborhoods and placing notices on permit-less cars. Printed-out permits lay on the dashboards of some cars while others had hanger permits dangling from rear-view mirrors. Cars were still parked against the curb on many downtown blocks, but now — more than before — there were blank spaces between them.

On Wednesday, during a meeting of the Residential Parking Permit stakeholders group, Irwin was one of several downtown residents to offer feedback on the new program.

Others confirmed his observation, including Elaine Uang, a downtown resident and member of the stakeholders group, who said she noticed a "dramatic effect." There are many more open spaces now, she said, including near her house in Downtown North.

"My block – it was totally unprecedented – was completely empty," Uang said. "And I'm adjacent to Johnson Park, which is usually fully parked."

Further south, in Professorville, Michael Hodos noticed a similar phenomenon. At Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Hodos reported his observations from a morning walk to Peet's coffee shop.

"There wasn't a car on Channing. A few cars on Bryant. Not a car on Addison," said Hodos, who is also a member of the stakeholders group. "Normally, at that time in the morning the cars would be bumper to bumper and there would be no space left."

The debut wasn't without its hiccups. The rollout has been marred by a flurry of complaints about the city's online permit-purchase system. Residents reported a variety of problems with the online system, many of them bugs that the city's contractors have by now resolved, according to city officials.

Craig Allen, a resident of Channing House, said he was "appalled" by the online system, which caused confusion among many Channing House residents. One problem was that the system did not allow users to return to the permit page once they left it, he said.

"We have a lot of people who went through and failed to print their permits," Allen said.

Planning Director Hillary Gitelman concurred that printing is a problem others have also experienced. Some residents have reportedly been placing their payment receipts on their dashboards instead of permits, Gitelman said. Others displayed screen shots.

Given all the problems, officials late last week have decided to extend the "warning period" (initially slated to last two weeks) to four weeks, before the $53 citations are actually issued. The program will have a two-week "noticing period" and will be followed by a two-week "warning period" before citations are issued to parking violators.

But on Wednesday, Gitelman said that officials have not yet decided when to begin enforcement.

The city, she said, still has plenty of work to do in helping residents and employees get their permits. As of Wednesday, the city has issued 3,743 permits: 2,847 to residents and 896 to businesses. Gitelman noted that there are about 4,000 housing units in the downtown permit area. Most have more than one car, she added.

"We still have a lot of residential permits that we need to get out there," Gitelman said.

Permit sales aren't the only issue with the new program. There is also the more predictable problem of drivers who had previously enjoyed free all-day parking inside the permit area are now simply moving their cars a little further, just outside the area.

Some now likely park in downtown's commercial core, where a two-hour limit requires them to re-park their cars throughout the day (incidentally, the city's parking manager Jessica Sullivan, said the number of parking citations in downtown's commercial core has risen since the permit program began).

Maryanne Mueller, who lives on Kingsley Avenue in a section of Professorville that is not permitted, said she and her neighbors saw a very different kind of change once the signs were unveiled.

"I heard it's working wonderful for some parts, but we're in a funny little un-permitted pocket and we are under deluge," Mueller said at the Wednesday meeting.

She then made another observation: "Lincoln Avenue is now completely free," Mueller said of a street that has traditionally been populated with cars. "I was riding my bike there and thinking something is wrong."

For the stakeholders group, the launching represented a significant milestone after months of delays and years of complaints about a deteriorating parking situation in downtown's residential neighborhoods.

A prior proposal, aimed for a small portion of Professorville, fizzled in 2012 after the council rejected it and called for a more "comprehensive" solution. The new program took about a year of work from city staff and members of the stakeholders committee.

The council approved it in December 2014 but the launching was pushed back, partly because of a dispute with the city's labor union over the enforcement contract. Now it's here and, for better or worse, it didn't take long for it to make a dent in one of the city's most pressing problems.

Sullivan observed at the beginning of the meeting that there's been "some significant changes in the last two to three days."

With the program launching, the city has also expanded its effort to reach out to downtown businesses and residents. In-person assistance for buying permits is now offered in the City Hall lobby, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Friday. Meanwhile, permit-less drivers who park their cars in the residential neighborhoods now find themselves greeted by a letter on their windshields.

"Hello!" the letter says. "You have parked in a residential area which is part of the new Downtown Residential Preferential Parking (RPP) District. In the future, if you plan on parking for more than two hours in this area you will need to display a valid PERMIT on your dashboard between the hours of 8:00-5:00, Monday through Friday."

The letter also describes the program, informs the driver of the $53 citations, offers instructions on how to buy a permit and instructs the driver to "have a great day!"

Sullivan said about 150 notices were left on cars on the program's first day. Richard Brand, a member of the stakeholders group and a Professorville resident, concurred that he had seen an enforcer posting notices earlier in the day. They're doing a good job, he said.

"He was zipping on a bike, checking for things, putting papers on cars," Brand said.

The permit program is now in its first phase, which is expected to stretch for about six months and focus on data gathering. In this phase, each household in the permit area is eligible for four permits, with an option of buying two more. Employees must pay either $50 or $233 for their permit, depending on income level. In the second phase, the city will consider limiting the number of permits sold and designating permits for particular blocks to make sure employees' cars are spread out throughout the neighborhoods.

More information about the new parking program is available here.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by StillFull
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2015 at 7:56 am

Everett at Waverley is still packed with cars because we are the closest street to downtown. I took 5 pictures yesterday at 2pm and cars were still lined up on the streets where Everett and Waverley meet. Also, the Waverley side and Everett side of Johnson Park were filled with cars as well. The cars really need to be distributed throughout the neighborhood so everyone can get some parking relief.


17 people like this
Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 17, 2015 at 8:06 am

As I feared, already blocks immediately adjacent to the RPP district are getting inundated with non-resident cars for the first time in the 100-plus-year history of Palo Alto. This is unacceptable. A College Terrace-type permit program should be implemented for a 6-block-wide buffer zone around the district immediately -- resident only permits -- and unlike College Terrace, no charge for permits, because this is an artificially created impact that should not be any burden to the residents.


13 people like this
Posted by anymembername
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 17, 2015 at 8:23 am

I've noticed commuters parking where I've never seen them before. Telltales are the car staying most of the day, windshield sun blocking panel, etc. I've also noticed more litter in the form of discarded food wrappers/bags and beverage cups.

How about running this town for the benefit of residents, city council? It's not so hard:
- Free street parking for PA residents;
- 2,3 hours free for non-residents, after which they're liable for a ticket;

To accomplish this:
- Scan/character recognze the plates with a hand held device;
- DMV check for residency.

All within the capability of a smartphone/app. Any cost recouped through non-resident tickets.


13 people like this
Posted by Cynic
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 17, 2015 at 8:28 am

"Gitelman noted that there are about 4,000 housing units in the downtown permit area. Most have more than one car, she added.
"'We still have a lot of residential permits that we need to get out there,' Gitelman said."

Not necessarily - many residents have off-street parking for all their vehicles, and many residents do not own cars. This program strangely promotes car ownership and on-street parking by residents - and is a huge subsidy to downtown landlords.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2015 at 8:32 am

What's missing from this article is the impact on city lots and garages.

Have more one day permits been bought since this came into effect?

Have garages and lots been noticeably more full?

Have more tickets been issued to parkers overstaying their allotted time on downtown streets, garages and lots?

Has anyone thought to look?


5 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2015 at 10:05 am

The city's version of "Whack a Mole". Would you rather pay close to $100 a month or or walk a bit farther for free? Time for tolls on the sidewalks?


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2015 at 10:23 am

I can finally park in front of my house but starting at 5pm, I see the commuters riding their skateboards and scooters to their cars which are now parked a block away, where permits are not required.


6 people like this
Posted by Tom Turner
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Sep 17, 2015 at 10:50 am

I had an appointment with my Doctor yesterday at 3 pm on Emerson and Channing. Usually there is no problem parking as lot is half full. Yesterday there was only one left and it was handicapped. I have been going to this location for months and it just started as permits are now necessary but no here I guess.


14 people like this
Posted by Geezer
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2015 at 11:16 am

The city has just pushed the downtown parking problem from one area to another. My block of Waverley is where the program ends. It's a pleasant 10 minute walk to downtown. As a result it is now jammed with cars parked bumper to bumper.

It's great that the downtown area streets are finally clear. But what about the rest of us?

Oh and by the way, what do my neighbors on the south side of Lincoln do? Lincoln is a boundary street. The properties on the north side are in the parking district but the properties on the south side are not. So they can't get parking permits. The parking restriction on Lincoln is on both sides of the street though. So these poor folks can't even park in front of their own houses during the day.

And within the district what happens when you have repairs or painting or cleaning being done at your house? Your handyman or painter or housekeeper is going to need to park for longer than 2 hours. In Cambridge, Mass, where I used to live long long ago, we used to have visitor permits. Nothing like that here - that I have heard of at least.

I don't think this project has been thought through well enough. Not ready for prime time.


14 people like this
Posted by Downtowncustomer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 17, 2015 at 11:18 am

I have been going to downtown weekly for my women group social lunch at Tea Time then shop and movie. I used to park 7 blocks south of University at empty spaces in Waverly below Lincoln. Yesterday it was full. So I had to drive and parked in the garage on Bryant. Sadly, for the first time I had to skip shopping and movie. After lunch I had to leave due to 3 hr limit. You care for the workers but not the business in the area? Kinda strange dilemma.


12 people like this
Posted by Thank you, Palo Alto!
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 17, 2015 at 11:28 am

...for moving your parking problem across the creek. With free parking just a pedestrian bridge away, our streets are starting to fill with your downtown employees.

Did you actually think this through? Or don't you care if your lack of planning ability becomes Menlo Park's problem?


2 people like this
Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2015 at 11:55 am

Unfortunately,repeated calls to info phones rest ignored and not answered.
Why is that?


3 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 17, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Geezer,

You do not understand the program.

Both sides of Lincoln are in the RPP up to Cowper. Beyond that, it is not.

Visitor permits are available.

I guess now that the program affects you, you have awakened from your slumber.
Your area had the chance to be in RPP but voted against it.


2 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 17, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Thank you Palo Alto,

Maybe your area needs an RPP. Don't be so obvious with you jealousy.

You do not have a God-given right to the parking spot in front of your house.


4 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 17, 2015 at 12:13 pm

Downtown customer,

Palo Alto has buses and shuttles. Many people ride them and more could if service were improved.

Parking is available for $17/day. Ask the city to provide a lower hourly rate. You should then find parking at a price.


4 people like this
Posted by no need to wait
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 17, 2015 at 12:27 pm

"Your area had the chance to be in RPP but voted against it."

Maybe because his area didn't have an issue. Now you've pushed your problems onto his area, he has an issue.

Forcing more and more areas into an RPP. The city has seen the result of this exercise. They have seen the increase in ares that were previously free of problems but have now created problems for those areas. No need to wait, extend the program another 6 blocks in each direction.


4 people like this
Posted by Geezer
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2015 at 1:39 pm

Chris,

Look at the map. Web Link From Bryant to Guinda only properties on the north side of Lincoln are in the RPP. But the restrictions on parking are posted on both sides of the street.

And I can find no reference to visitor permits anywhere on the city's website. If you could direct me, I'd appreciate it. Not that I'd be able to use them, being just outside the district, but I'd like to know.

And yes, my neighbors perhaps didn't have the sense to realize that although we currently didn't have a parking problem we certainly would when the new rules went into effect. But does that mean that the loss of our street parking should matter any less?

You seem to be someone who is benefitting from the new regime. That's great. But why should it make you so unsympathetic when other areas suddenly start to suffer from the same problem you have suffering from for so long? We say "ouch!" And you seem to say "You deserve it!" I don't think we do.


8 people like this
Posted by Thank you, Palo Alto!
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 17, 2015 at 1:42 pm

I don't remember invoking religion in my prior comment, but yes, the right of people who live in Menlo Park to park in front of our homes does trump the right of downtown Palo Alto workers to do the same. If we have to get parking permits -- and ours will simply exclude all non-residents from parking at any time, sorry about that -- we will.

If you travel over to Alma in Menlo Park near the creek, you can see the line of cars stretching back from the bridge. Those cars weren't there last week, and the numbers will only increase as word gets out.

We didn't get to vote. We're not even in your county. If you don't want those cars in Palo Alto, well, we don't want them in Menlo Park either.


3 people like this
Posted by Long-time resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2015 at 2:04 pm

I am grateful that there is an attempt to do something about the parking problem. This is the first phase of the program. Hopefully some good data will be collected and analyzed. There are 17 houses in our downtown PUD one block from University. We have NO driveways, so we park in our garages (2-car). If you have a third driver/car in your family (teen, college-student, care-giver, etc.) he or she parks on the street. We have not been able to park on our block (except for Sat/Sun during the day) since we moved in 19 years ago. There was a slight change during the recession. Visitors have had to drop off elderly or handicapped passengers, and then park blocks away and walk to our home.

We LOVE living downtown, but the parking has been a nightmare.


5 people like this
Posted by no need to wait
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 17, 2015 at 2:48 pm

"And yes, my neighbors perhaps didn't have the sense to realize that although we currently didn't have a parking problem we certainly would when the new rules went into effect. "

No they weren't. They didn't have a RPPP, they didn't want an RPPP. The overall majority didn't want an RPPP. The City had to tweak who was included just to get a very narrow majority of 51% who wanted an RPPP so they could install it. If they had gone with the original votes, none of this would have happened. Now they are forcing it on everyone who didn't have a problem previously and is now stuck with getting an RPPP because others have pushed their problem onto to them.


Like this comment
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 17, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Tom Turner - if you are having trouble parking around channing, it is probably the construction not the permit program. There is no parking on one side of Channing between Cowper and Middlefield while the road/drain is being worked on. It may also be another reason why some people are seeing more cars parked east of Middlefield.


3 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 17, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@no need to wait & Thank you, Palo Alto! - RPP solves all problems, we should all have one, and the parking problem is gone. It is unfortunate that the problem has shifted, but you can't tell the people with the problem that they aren;t allowed solve it because you don't want to be bothered with it. RPP for everyone is the equitable answer.


4 people like this
Posted by Marianne Mueller
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2015 at 3:15 pm

Here is email I sent my family. I encourage people to come to the Stakeholders meetings. --Marianne

p.s. please note one of the annoying things about me (there are many) is that I pretend I am a stand up comic as in the comment about benevolent dictator. I am too busy anyway.

###

I am sure they will beg me to be mayor and/or benevolent dictator, soon. As you see I represented the 'hood in a meeting about recent HUGE changes to parking patterns in a one-mile-square area - downtown Palo Alto - and we're the bottom rung so to speak - a tiny little pocket not put under permits and so now buried in cars … my neighbor who is disabled can't find a spot in front of his house since the workers at the techie startups downtown are parking their cars on the street (free) as opposed to the rest of downtown where you now need to have a permit ($250 for a quarter or half of year, something like that -- or maybe a year but I think less than a year) -- the only solution is our street has to become permit parking only, also. This is sad to me as it marks formally the time that Palo Alto changed and became home to businesses and finance and startups more so than a place with a downtown with bookstores, restaurants, movie theaters, dry cleaning places, hardware stores, and so on; the retail is being pushed out by startsups with VC money that want a Palo Alto downtown address.

Parking is this tiny little blip that reflects that …. I will be going to all future Stakeholders meetings … I should write a short story about last night's meeting and send it as a letter to the editor. By gum I will do that. It was both farcical and important and the way government ought to happen. Stakeholders representing different interests hash it out with city employees, test it out, then recommend final whatever to the city council,and then they fund it on an ongoing basis (the parking thing is supposed to be self funding ho ho ho). Democracy at work with all its shocking brutalities and selfishnesses. I gave a little speech yesterday on Big Data, comma, dangers of, comma, unintended consequences of collecting scanned data of all parked cars' permits the better to analyze parking patterns … an incredible database, eh?! Best of all, a guy from Palantir is one of the business Stakeholders on that committee. I addressed him obliquely in my comments. All this will become clearer in the letter to the editor I shall pen (ie short story that is permitted, no pun intended, to take liberties in narrative.

Marianne


5 people like this
Posted by Marianne Mueller
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Bumper Sticket (email me at mrm@sonic.net if you want one)

Job Creators need to be Parking Spot Creators

i.e. whatever the ratio is, 1:1 or 1:1/2 (workers:required spaces) business owners are responsible for building/maintaining that % of garage parking.

BETTER IDEA provide shuttle busses from PA city land where people can park -- at the baylands? obviously in existing lots or whatever not taking any land from the baylands park which only ought be expanded -- my neighbor suggested this. Stanford Shopping Mall does this with employees in December(s) so as to have as much parking as possible for paying customers and it works fine for them. Give workers and employees good, reasonable hybrid solutions to parking downtown and that'll be a win for all around. We can all go have a beer in a remaining pub downtown! Cheers!


2 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 17, 2015 at 3:48 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Marianne Mueller - "the only solution is our street has to become permit parking only, also. This is sad to me as it marks formally the time that Palo Alto changed and became home to businesses and finance and startups"

To be fair, this is where Palo Alto changed for you and your block, but it changed a long time ago for your neighbors to the east/north. The RPP is a 1/2 step back to the old Palo Alto for them. Having to get a permit (first one is free), is a very small inconvenience compared to the crowded streets, trash, noise, etc...


4 people like this
Posted by InRPPHateIt
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 17, 2015 at 4:05 pm

Being a long time resident I am just shocked at how poorly tihis was implemented. Did you count the cars in the 80s through now? Look at what it was like before you bought.
I am in favor of downtown North of University, as this is where businesses and parking lots are. Mr. Buchanan has a point.
The rest of this is a gerrymandered encumbrance upon property owners.
Clearly the street study had no significant EIR because it is now so dangerous to cross some streets that I have to drive 5 extra blocks to get home.
Why weren't plates verified w/ the DMV registration system so that the true impact would be known and the city could mail permits to registered owners?
The cost is just another pathetic tax. How does it affect the law? If this is supposed to be resident parking in an area then it should be free.
I'm disgusted that there are no resident daily scratchers, but the lack of inclusion of hospice care shows how callous and greedy the 'shareholders' of this program are; most only living in their houses for two years.
Drive around a bit of you think your street is nice and clear , but watch out because there aren't four way stops or traffic controls on the areas south of university where people were smart enough to vote down this taking.
This also makes for bad neighbor's. I keep my cars in the driveway and have those idiotic permits. I respected the spaces in front of my neighbor's. Now why not park 6 cars in front of a listed stake/shareholder house.
Don't even get me started on churchgoers.
As a law this fails the tree basic tests for validity.
For those who forgot, we are one city. Our taxes shouldn't be changed because some people thought they could get a reserved space. Instead of whatever you did to your driveway, fix it.
Data collection, licenses transmitted online, visible "I live here so rob me or my cat permits", no visitor scratchers, and paying to park in front of my house when the road hasn't been resurfaced in 85 years?
All this does is shift a problem and make walking, riding, and driving more hazardous and time consuming.
This also needs to be free per registered vehicle no limits.
Everybody knows relegious services aren't just one hour on Sunday's right?
The lack of home help and hospice exceptions almost makes me need them.
North of university yes, South of university needs to be stopped immediately.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 17, 2015 at 4:07 pm

"moving your parking problem across the creek. With free parking just a pedestrian bridge away, our streets are starting to fill with your downtown employees."

Turnabout is fair play, neighbor. For years I've watched drivers park their cars on Palo Alto Ave near the Waverley Street bridge and cross over to their jobs in Menlo Park. They still do.


3 people like this
Posted by Eileen Wright
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 17, 2015 at 4:33 pm

"As I feared, already blocks immediately adjacent to the RPP district are getting inundated with non-resident cars for the first time in the 100-plus-year history of Palo Alto. This is unacceptable."

What is unacceptable is our neighborhood watched this coming our way for years and did nothing to keep it away. It is high time we got new "leadership".


Posted by Day 1 doesn't count
a resident of Downtown North

on Sep 17, 2015 at 5:45 pm


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5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 17, 2015 at 6:25 pm

@Chris and others:

Yes, some of the residents just outside the permit zone didn’t want an RPP and didn’t see this coming. But, they shouldn’t have had to.

The real fault here is not the RPP. It is city administrations who for years let commercial property owners put up big office buildings without enough parking (or realistic alternatives) for their tenants. The commercial owners got the gift of free parking in the nearest neighborhoods, while those neighborhoods got overpacked with commuter cars. North Professorville residents knew it and howled and were ignored for years. The city forgot its responsibility to residents, and now all the residents need to pay for it.

This is not a win for the RPP residents. It has been a loss for everybody.


9 people like this
Posted by Thank you, Palo Alto!
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 17, 2015 at 6:33 pm

"Turnabout is fair play, neighbor. For years I've watched drivers park their cars on Palo Alto Ave near the Waverley Street bridge and cross over to their jobs in Menlo Park. They still do."

Why not make stuff up! Here's a fact: there are very few businesses on the Menlo Park side of the Waverley/Bryant bridge, and all have ample parking lots that are rarely even half full. Thanks to our council for holding the line and not (usually) allowing a lot of underparked new construction.

However, if people were also parking in Palo Alto to cross into Menlo Park, that would merely indicate that two cities were being negligent. It wouldn't validate that negligence. I'm surprised the residents of Downtown North have put up with the parking and the insane cut-through drivers for so long. Not enough clout on the council?


4 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 17, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@InRPPHateIt - [Portion removed.] Worried about churchgoers on Sunday? You don't need to be, the 2 hour limit is only M-F 8-5. Worried about "taxes" - well, your first permit is free! And since you use your driveway (good for you) - you can let your guest use your free permit.

And yes, there are $5 visitor scratchers available to residents as well!


4 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 17, 2015 at 7:22 pm

The lesson for everybody is that when something is priced at 0 but the value is significant, that "thing" will be allocated very inefficiently. If no free parking is available, developers will not have an incentive to underpark their new buildings. Smart companies have already started to help their employees with alternative transit arrangements.

They may or may not be a need for more parking garages downtown. But when so much neighborhood parking was free and unregulated, workers flocked to those spots rather than buy permits in the garages. Now that parking in the neighborhoods costs the same as parking downtown, there will be a change in behavior. Some of the changes will move cars to the existing garages or increase use of public transit, share rides or bicycles. Unfortunately, some effects are not so positive: parking for $5 in the Caltrain lots without riding the train, and parking for free outside the RPP.

Building more garages downtown will not solve the problem for the areas just outside the RPP if garage parking is priced at $1000/year (probably still underpriced). These areas will still need some kind of parking control.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 18, 2015 at 5:53 pm

"Why not make stuff up! Here's a fact: there are very few businesses on the Menlo Park side of the Waverley/Bryant bridge, and all have ample parking lots that are rarely even half full."

Look, I don't know WHY, I only know THAT.

And we never complained. I only ask a return of that courtesy.


4 people like this
Posted by Sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 18, 2015 at 10:18 pm

The first permit for downtown parking should be free for ALL residents of Palo Alto, not just those who live in the area.
Many who live outside the area spend money downtown. Since lunch plus a movie plus a bit of shopping add up to more time than what is permitted by any downtown parking, I hope that the businesses downtown that rely on selling a product feel the pain. Perhaps then those of us who do not live in the favored areas will be considered when the city puts in new policies.
For many seniors, busses and bicycles are not an option. We can still walk some blocks to a shop or movie, but not all the way downtown. Nor is it possible to carry things the mile from the bus to home.
This new parking system is the pits. It should be stopped immediately.


4 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 18, 2015 at 11:05 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@Sunshine - "This new parking system is the pits. It should be stopped immediately." So your argument is that because you want free parking for a weekday matinee, every resident downtown should suffer?

For the most part, movie showtimes are in the evening and on the weekends, where the permits are needed downtown for parking. But there should be a 4 or 5 hour "validation" available for movie theater patrons.

And if we expand the RPP to the whole city, you would have a free permit, so let's do that instead of stopping it.


7 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 19, 2015 at 9:37 am

Sunshine,

Your idea would largely negate the benefit of the RPP.

Try supporting reasonable hourly parking rates downtown. Surely if you can afford to drive you can afford to pay to park.


2 people like this
Posted by anon
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 19, 2015 at 11:25 am

The answer is a citywide ban on commuter parking on neighborhood streets, with free two hour parking for all.
Residents and business alike need short term parking to function , and commuter parkers unchecked will use all of this short term flexible parking.

As neighborhoods become impacted by commuter parking they may need their city to take action to enforce the ban.

College Terrace model will work city wide and adoption of CT RPP will not take any staff effort and time other than ministerial.

Obviously residential streets near employment centers will have more traffic and more two hour parking by non-residents which is to be an expected, and tolerated as a result of their location.
With a city wide ban on non resident parking, neighborhoods near employment centers will be able to share short term parking with their business neighbors. these areas will have a more urban feel, but they will be able to function as neighborhoods, not artificial parking lots created by bad planning and preferential treatment to business interest groups.


3 people like this
Posted by Kevin Ohlson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2015 at 11:33 am

Perhaps an answer, at least for downtown businesses that want to keep their customers, is free Lyft validation with each purchase.


11 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 19, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Anon,

The point of the RPP is to allow daily parking for residents and workers, sharing the available parking and allowing space for some 2-hour parkers.

It is amazing how many people have come late to the party and don't understand the issues and the work that has gone into getting to this point.

Even if you don't respect the city, which is a common opinion, please respect the work of your fellow citizens who are working effectively in a political environment.

People posting hare-brained ideas without responsibility will not solve anything.


7 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Sep 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm

Kevin,

I suspect the successful businesses don't need to validate and the marginal business couldn't afford it.

Remember the downtown businesses are paying into the garages. The problem is the garages are not being used effectively.
Parking 3 hours and under is free and there is no hourly rate and a very high daily rate. Until now, workers could park for free a few blocks from downtown and had no incentive to buy permit parking in the garages, which are underutilized.


5 people like this
Posted by StillFull
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 19, 2015 at 1:45 pm

"Obviously residential streets near employment centers will have more traffic and more two hour parking by non-residents which is to be an expected, and tolerated as a result of their location."

Anon - We have a city that builds beyond its capacity and we have to "tolerate" the impact it has made on our daily living? The RPP has become a band-aid for the poor decisions made at City Hall. At the very least, we would like to have an open parking space in front of our home.


8 people like this
Posted by Check your facts
a resident of University South
on Sep 19, 2015 at 8:00 pm

For everyone who is blaming their parking woes on "under parked buildings" and the techies who work there, you should look for evidence before you post.

This newspaper has reported on a city survey that showed only a third of tech workers drive, compared to three-quarters of restaurant workers. Last week, it reported that office workers are spread out at one per 410 sq ft, with restaurant workers packed in at one per 150 sq ft.

The facts are in - we have a parking problem in our neighborhoods because there's a thriving restaurant scene downtown, and we're all driving there for lunch! It's the retail workers, not the tech workers (as you can see by watching the commuters go to work in the morning, unless you're too old to tell the difference between a waiter and a cider).

So you can't keep blaming this on developers luring rich startup workers to park in front of your house. These are the working poor we are talking about - if you kick them out, where do you expect them to go?

This city should start talking about how to help these people, not push them even further away from their jobs.


2 people like this
Posted by InRPPHateIt
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 22, 2015 at 11:15 am

@Slow Down
Religious services are not only held on Sunday's or during non-permit times. Speed up a bit here, that's simple.
My first permit being free for 6 months doesn't reflect the later fees and the cost for my additional vehicles. People cheered because they're child could now park on the stree. Great.
So, when I need to develop somewhere else in the Robbing People's Pockets zone I need to pay and keep switching permits, or have a permit with a few per vehicle? Even if every other vehicle is in my driveway?
The things people "thought out" need an I.Q. boost.
Driving 5 extra blocks to get home because the parking is now dangerous is because of the magic vote that established the zone.
Free permits for all registered owners is within the scope of this action.
The city page has an opt in to RPP and no opt out. So the data collection is based on a model where people could have a somewhat reasonable amount of free permits for residents. Who did not study research methodology 101.

Please tell me about the free permits for hospice and home health workers, while you are at it why not address the reasonable compliance with ADA in the district.

I might pay the extra money next year if my street had been resurfaced in the past 86.

Yes, others have mentioned the development and lack of parking when new structures are built.

Regardless, you clearly have not walked around this neighborhood for the past 30 years or you would not think the traffic situation had changed the way it has been portrayed.

Yes, I park in my driveway. I also live in Palo Alto and have to park in the other parts of the RPP.

I''m disgusted


Like this comment
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 22, 2015 at 1:55 pm

Zero difference around where I live, except that residents now need a permit to park on the street. Parking is no better and no worse than before. A look around Downtown North and University South neighborhoods reveals overnight parking is every bit as congested as before. Thank goodness I have off street parking.

The RPP was a bad idea from the beginning. Like most NIMBY solutions, it does not work because it addresses only symptoms rather than root causes. And no, trying to push the problem into outlying neighborhoods is not a a viable solution. It is time to repeal the RPP, go back to the drawing board, and create a solution that fixes the lack of parking.

@Sunshine wrote:

"The first permit for downtown parking should be free for ALL residents of Palo Alto, not just those who live in the area. "

But that would let the rabble into Downtown. ;-) It is already bad enough that Downtown residents park on the streets. Seriously, though, you are right. Your taxes pay for these streets as much as anybody else's. As far as I am concerned, you and all other Palo Alto residents are welcome to park in my neighborhood.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kazu
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 22, 2015 at 2:11 pm

"People posting hare-brained ideas without responsibility will not solve anything."

You mean like when they proposed the RPP? You're right, it didn't solve anything. The traffic barriers solution proposed years ago falls into the same category.


2 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 22, 2015 at 2:31 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@InRPPHateIt - Your first permit isn't free for 6 months, it is free forever.

What service at what church is during permit hours?

Can you explain why you have to drive 5 extra blocks because of some new danger? Honestly, that makes no sense.



3 people like this
Posted by Engineer
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 22, 2015 at 5:24 pm

"This newspaper has reported on a city survey that showed only a third of tech workers drive, compared to three-quarters of restaurant workers."

Yet more facts obscured by fractions and percentages. What matters is the absolute numbers, not a fraction or percentage of some unspecified total. Like, 1/3 of 3000 techies is 1000, which is a larger number than 3/4 of 600 (=450) restauranties.

Don't like the 3000 and 600? Show us the actual numbers. But can the /s and %s. They convey nothing.

(BTW, in a companion post Web Link you cited 2/3 in place of the 3/4 in this piece. Please make up your mind.)

The plain empirical fact, obvious to even the most casual observer, is that there are too many commuters chasing the limited parking places.


6 people like this
Posted by Got permit, got ticketed anyway
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 9, 2015 at 9:05 am

There is trouble in paradise. The so called "parking miracle" is badly stumbling due to poor execution ...

On my very first day with my brand spanking new permit I left our company off-street spot open and parked on the street so that someone else who would normally walk from an outer neighborhood or who would normally play the parking musical chairs game could have the off-street spot. I parked in a valid zone with the permit clearly displayed on the passenger side.

Got a ticket.

THREE OTHER PEOPLE in my place of business who also had valid permits have had the same experience.


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

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