Evergreen Park wants annexation to parking-permit program

Residents say city has ignored neighborhood in Palo Alto's 'other downtown'

With their neighborhood rapidly becoming a de facto commuter parking zone, residents of Evergreen Park want the Palo Alto City Council to take action by adding the neighborhood to the existing College Terrace Residential Parking Permit Program.

More than 250 residents signed a petition asking for the annexation, which they presented to city officials Feb. 1. The residents say Evergreen Park was originally supposed to be part of the successful parking program that applies to their neighbors to the west, across El Camino Real.

Under that program, drivers must have a resident permit, guest permit or day permit in order to park on College Terrace streets from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Without a permit, cars may be parked for only two hours or risk citation.

Resident Christian Pease told the City Council on Monday that there is precedent for Evergreen Park's inclusion in the College Terrace program: the 2000 Stanford University General Use Permit, which governs expansion of the university.

Stanford gave the City of Palo Alto $100,000 to develop the College Terrace parking-permit program; any excess money was to be used for a parking study for the Southgate and Evergreen Park neighborhoods, which are bounded by the Caltrain tracks, Churchill Avenue, El Camino and Cambridge Avenue. Evergreen Park lies just north of the California Avenue retail district.

The city spent the $100,000, plus $36,000 more to start up the College Terrace program, according to a 2009 city manager's report.

Pease told the council that Stanford's efforts to limit traffic on campus have, ironically, clogged Evergreen Park with cars. Stanford commuters as well as Caltrain riders leave their cars in the neighborhood to avoid Stanford and Caltrain parking fees.

"That leaves Evergreen Park as the only free and convenient all-day and all-night alternative for parking. ... This is out of balance, and it makes no sense," Pease said.

Some residents said the paucity of parking in front of their homes has created hardship for those with disabilities. Irene Au, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1999, said her 70-year-old father lives with her and must contend with parking blocks away.

"Last week he came home from the grocery store in the middle of the day and literally could not find parking until he reached Stanford (Avenue) and Birch (Street). And that's quite far for a 70-year-old who has only one lung that operates, with four bags of groceries," she said. "We literally feel trapped in our own home in the middle of the day because you're scared that when we return home from wherever we go that we can't find parking on the street."

And it isn't only weekday commuters who are taking over the neighborhood, Au added.

"We witness people parking their cars in front of our house for weeks at a time, and they bring their luggage and they take Caltrain to the airport. The neighborhood has become a long-term parking lot for SFO," she said.

Samina Faheem, who lives near El Camino, said she has also had to park blocks away, which is a hardship because of an injury she has. Parking in front of her home has also been risky. A hit-and-run incident involving her car caused $2,500 to $3,000 in damage that she still cannot afford to fully repair, she said.

She asserted that city leaders should make sure developers are able to deliver on their promises of adequate parking before granting building permits. For example, she said, where there used to be a Foster's Freeze near her home, there are now two large buildings.

"Their parking lot does not support what businesses they have. I think they have fewer parking spots than their own employees (need)," she said.

The problem has led to a scarcity mentality that is causing greater hostility among neighbors as they compete for parking spaces, Au said.

"It's led to people kind of hoarding spaces with their garbage bins," she said.

David Schrom, president of the Evergreen Park Neighborhood Association and a neighborhood resident since the 1970s, said that he and others have expressed their concerns to no fewer than 10 mayors. They have asked the council to alleviate the situation before it became intractable, to no avail.

That the neighborhood has become an auxiliary parking lot is "really nothing short of shameful," he said.

Council members on Monday could not speak to the residents' concerns because the issue was not on the council's agenda.

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51 people like this
Posted by seems reasonable
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 8, 2016 at 6:35 pm

This seems like a very reasonable request which won't result in much expense to the city of Palo Alto.

18 people like this
Posted by Kendra
a resident of Mayfield
on Feb 8, 2016 at 8:14 pm

I remember back when College Terrace adopted their residential parking permit program back in 2010, there was tremendous outcry and endless derision on these Town Hall forums. Intolerant comments like "no one has a God-given right to park in front of their own houses" and "public streets should not be treated like personal parking lots" and "this is just another example of College Terrace whining".

Now that the whole City of Palo Alto is gradually adopting or wants to adopt RPPP, where are those wrong-side-of-history voices now?

16 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 8, 2016 at 9:40 pm

Left unchecked, these spreading RPPP programs will eventually undo decades of hard work by our pro-development city government, as they chase the workforce that supports their underparked overdevelopments out of town.

We are bucking powerful forces with this. An overwhelming pushback is certain.

8 people like this
Posted by Poff
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 9, 2016 at 7:28 am

Poff is a registered user.

There appears to be a long history of avoiding zoning requirements for on-site parking. I wouldn't blame businesses and former city councils too much. Look at all the residences that have converted required parking into extra bedrooms, storage spaces, etc. Any resident that does not have their required on-site parking should not complain! Where street parking is in high demand, it is a good idea to have a paid-permit program.....I'm just not sure that residents that have gained from converting their on-site space to other uses should receive a cut-rate deal. Rents and parking spaces are free-market items.

1 person likes this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 8:15 am

What's to stop residents paving over their front yard and renting out parking spaces?

It is being done elsewhere, why not here?

3 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 9, 2016 at 10:59 am

Might as well include Southgate and the northern part of Ventura - because they'll just go there next.

2 people like this
Posted by Be Positive
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 9, 2016 at 11:51 am

Be Positive is a registered user.

@crescent park dad - I agree, the parking problem will simply move. In addition to the Stanford employees, Cal Ave employees, the business along El Camino (dentists, etc.) won't let their own employees use their lots, they ask their employees to park in the neighborhoods.

4 people like this
Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on Feb 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm

City Council has lost sight of the objects, in my opinion:

1. Keep neighborhoods the way they were.
2. Create low-cost parking for employees.

This parking permit program is a cruel joke on the neighborhoods. It took crowded downtown parking and pushed it out into the neighborhoods. Increasing its reach will fill up all of the nearby neighborhoods and push it further out. Two-hour limits at least kept parkers moving and one could actually find a space for a guest on one's street. Now that is IMPOSSIBLE.

The Board should use top floors of downtown garages for employees to park either free or for a low daily fee and maintain 2-hour parking in the areas close to downtown and California Avenue. In addition, out-of-neighborhood parking should be used for employees and shuttles to jobs instituted.

10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 9, 2016 at 12:36 pm

"This parking permit program is a cruel joke on the neighborhoods. It took crowded downtown parking and pushed it out into the neighborhoods"

The RPPP is the result of neighborhood complaints about excessive parking in neighborhoods. The problem existed before it, courtesy of the pro-development councilmembers of the past two decades who promoted the profits of commercial interests with no consideration for residents or Palo Alto's future. There's the real cruel joke.

I totally concur with you that the RPPP effect mainly pushes that parking burden ever further outward from its source. We need a sizable dedicated parking area and a shuttle system to accommodate our workers. The acres of underutilized paved land which are now the runway and aprons at the Palo Alto airport would fill that need superbly. We ought to close that needless airport and convert it to city-serving uses like these ASAP.

9 people like this
Posted by Bicyclist
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 9, 2016 at 1:24 pm

In this day and age, we shouldn't be subsidizing automobiles anymore than they are now. There shouldn't be any free on-street parking even for residents. Everybody should pay something. Every single on-street spot should either be metered or permitted.

4 people like this
Posted by Good Idea
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 9, 2016 at 1:28 pm

Many suburban home owners in Britain have turned their front gardens into parking spots. This has come about because homeowners are charged by their City, town or village for the privilege of parking on the street. In another 15 to 20 years the same thing will happen here, and all our front yards will be parking lots. Homeowner can then rent out their front yards for parking and make the money instead of the City.

16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2016 at 1:31 pm


Do you pay to park your bicycle at a bike rack?

Do you expect to find bike racks around town?

Do you expect bike lanes on streets?

Perhaps you would like to pay for these privileges too.

4 people like this
Posted by Just don't get it..
a resident of Southgate
on Feb 9, 2016 at 6:14 pm

Don't worry about overflow coming to Southgate....Paly Hi and Stanford have already taken up all the on street parking and we have very, very narrow streets. It is almost impossible to get in or out of driveways and for emergency vehicles to go down the street!! Several cars, including mine, have been hit. Then there the ongoing construction vehicles, cement trucks, etc.

7 people like this
Posted by Patrick
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 9, 2016 at 7:17 pm

I believe developers and homeowners alike need to share a greater burden of parking.

For example, the buildings that replaced Foster Freeze have very little parking and the business owners encourage their employees to park in the neighborhood so their customers can use their limited parking. That's wrong. Developers need to provide more parking. And city council needs to pressure them to do so.

But residents need to use their driveways too. Unfortunately we do not own the street parking. And all sorts of people have converted their driveways into outdoor space which isn't fair.

And if someone parks on your street for more than 24 hours, call the city and they will issue a warning to tow their car. And then tow it

2 people like this
Posted by Kibitzer
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 10, 2016 at 8:49 am

To the resident who compares car parking to bicycle parking:

My bike is sitting here in my office with me. I don't think this is a solution for those who drive cars to work. Let's be objective!

Obviously, we need more car parking in the city, and those who drive cars will need to pay for it.

Stopping downtown development until suitable parking is completed will create urgency. As parking gets very expensive, alternate forms of transportation will be developed and utilized.

A bike is really cheap!

3 people like this
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 10, 2016 at 11:55 am

"Obviously, we need more car parking in the city, and those who drive cars will need to pay for it."

It ought to be paid for by whatever entity causes the need for parking, be it directly by the building owner, or indirectly via a parking tax for retailers.

3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2016 at 3:43 pm

I only compared bike parking to car parking when a bicyclist above suggested that all car parking on streets should be paid for by the vehicle owner. This arrogant, holier than thou attitude, is the type of attitude that prevents sensible discussion on any issue.

19 people like this
Posted by Karen
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 11, 2016 at 4:23 pm

I have lived in Evergreen Park for over 30 years and I have watched our streets become a parking lot. Over 70% if the residential parking spaces are used each weekday, 2/3 of them by non residents. Everyday people who work at Stanford, California Ave offices, and in surrounding buildings park in our neighborhood because they were not required to provide adequate parking for their buildings. Many of the Stanford employees do not want to pay the $1000 cost for an A sticker so they drive alone, park in our neighborhood, pull their bikes out of their trunks, and ride to work. Then Stanford gets credit for them as a bicyclist in the Transportation Management System statistics! Our little neighborhood is squeezed between Stanford, California Ave, the Cal Train tracks and El Camino and we are the closest free location for many people to park. The city council should not approve any other building permits if the building will be under-parked. The developers, land lords, and the city have created this problem and now we are paying the price. And soon you can be sure they will ask the tax payers to pay for more parking garages for all the commuters so that the developers can make more money at our expense. The developers have said that they have a right to park on the residential streets and the residents should pay for parking garages. Wake up!! the rest of Palo Alto will be heavily impacted by the over development that has been approved all over the city soon as well. If the city wants to create a high density "urban" area then someone has to pay for the parking, water, streets, schools, power, and all the other infrastructure. Should the residents have to pay so the developers can get richer? Billions of dollars are at stake in this massive development effort and our parking problem is just a small symptom of the bigger issue. But it is a problem that can be simply and cheaply addressed by annexing Evergreen Park to the successful College Terrace RPP.

4 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 11, 2016 at 4:43 pm

Karen is absolutely right. A great deal of the traffic and parking problems are caused by Stanford employees. Companies in the Stanford Industrial Park, which apparently has unlimited space for more and more companies, hire employees who demand to live in Palo Alto and expect this town to completely change and become a dense urban city.

1 person likes this
Posted by Pants on fire
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 11, 2016 at 8:04 pm

How completely untrue, Mauricio.

Like this comment
Posted by Pat
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 12, 2016 at 8:36 am

It is important to see the residential preferential parking programs as part of a larger effort to reduce the number of automobiles in Palo Alto and the rest of the world. The enemy is not businesses, employees, residents or institutions. The enemy is the automobile and our dependence on it.

Every small step we take to reduce our use of automobiles is “a giant step for mankind.”

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2016 at 9:33 am

The best way to remove the need for parking in any neighborhood is to remove the need. The best way is to improve public transportation. The first mile/last mile would work much better with parking lots near 280 and in the Baylands with dedicated shuttles to get into the downtown areas.

Stanford has its Marguerite and that does help, but they need to see that off campus parking at 280 and a bus to campus (maybe they do already) is a good alternative. Caltrain parking is tight, so better shuttle service from residential areas to stations would help also.

Cars are not going to disappear because parking gets more difficult. Cars will only move elsewhere until such time as an efficient alternative is invoked.

Moving deckchairs on the Titanic (known as RPPs) does nothing to help those that park. Find some system to help people park and then get to where they need to go efficiently and affordably.

Like this comment
Posted by Stanford Housing
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 12, 2016 at 10:32 am

Stanford should pay for the parking permit program as part of the Escondido housing proposal. Evergreen Park is already seeing impacts of Stanford users parking in the neighborhoods all day for free. With more under-parked housing this can only get worse

2 people like this
Posted by Michael Eager
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 12, 2016 at 1:54 pm

The solution to too many cars parking in the Evergreen Park neighborhood is to create adequate and reasonably priced parking for merchants, shoppers, employees, and commuters in the nearby commercial/industrial areas. The City has not increased parking, while it continues to approve new construction with less-than-adequate parking. Parking permits don't solve the problem of inadequate infrastructure.

A Residential Parking Permit in Evergreen Park would protect the residents who are adversely affected by the lack of parking in the commercial areas. People who are unable to park in the neighborhood will find other places, perhaps in the CalTrain lot or City parking lots or garages. They might decide to stop driving. More likely, they will find a different neighborhood to park in, moving the parking problem elsewhere.

It seems unlikely that the City will address the root cause of the problem, inadequate infrastructure. We can't expect that there will be any significant improvement in public transportation . That makes a Residential Parking Permit Program for Evergreen Park the only other solution.

Like this comment
Posted by Deb
a resident of University South
on Feb 12, 2016 at 10:31 pm

Deb is a registered user.

Evergreen Park neighborhood is a parking lot on week days. The problem of irresponsible development within the city is very real. There needs to be a solution, I just don't think it's the one the city has come up with. About the permit parking, I have some reservations:

1) The streets are public right of ways paid for by taxes on businesses.
2) The majority of houses in our neighborhood have two or three cars associated with them that are parked on the streets. This is true for most of Palo Alto.
3) I like the people who are walking through our neighborhood on their way to work. I like what they bring to the neighborhood.
4) I have more problems, by far, with my neighbors parking in front of my house than I do commuters.
5) I find the permit parking signs in College Terrace to be off putting; anti-social, especially now that there is no need for them.

Most importantly, I'm disturbed by the underlying current of antagonism towards the fact that since 1970, the world's population has tripled and just about everybody wants to come live here. The fundamentally human response to this reality is acting to create space when and where possible to make room and opportunity for others, not just for yourself.

Like this comment
Posted by Robot
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 13, 2016 at 1:03 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Roger Overnaut
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 13, 2016 at 5:29 pm

"The fundamentally human response to this reality is acting to create space when and where possible to make room and opportunity for others, not just for yourself."

Have you done a test run of that sentiment in Malibu or Pebble Beach? Atherton? How'd it go down?

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