News


Editorial: A failure to communicate

Rushed implementation of the new residential permit-parking program will have both residents, employees in for some big surprises once enforcement begins

The city's voicemail box for questions is full and unable to take additional messages. Emailed questions go unanswered. A website is nearly impossible to navigate. A complicated and poorly explained process for getting permits leaves people confused and frustrated. And outreach is so poor that it reinforces the perception that the city doesn't care how its actions may impact the public, and especially the business community.

That is the state of the rushed implementation of the new residential permit-parking program in the Evergreen Park and Mayfield neighborhoods, approved by the City Council in January and taking effect in a week, with enforcement set to start on April 24.

Given the poor communication, both residents and employees of nearby businesses are in for some big surprises when the permit-only parking signs go up and new two-hour restrictions are implemented.

The new Evergreen Park and Mayfield parking programs are not simple and threaten to severely disrupt the California Avenue business district and the customers on which it depends. With only 125 permits being issued to employees for parking in each of the two neighborhoods, the easily predictable result will be large increases in the number of employees having no place to park and therefore needing to move their cars every two hours, depriving shoppers of spaces and creating unnecessary congestion.

And at the end of the year, the parking lot behind Starbuck's will close for more than a year while a new parking garage is constructed. That will further reduce the available parking by 160 spaces.

This week, businesses were given less than 24 hours notice, through email, of a meeting held yesterday to explain the program and its complicated permit system.

There is no excuse for such poor communication about a program that has so much potential for disruption.

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Comments

16 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2017 at 3:12 pm

"And outreach is so poor that it reinforces the perception that the city doesn't care how its actions may impact the public...."

perception?


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Something wrong here Weekly. I read the article about parking permits and I get all the comments which refer to a different article. Anyway, The fact is that parking in Palo Alto is bad and this will not help. The last time I tried to drop something off in the Cal Ave area in my lunchbreak en route to a meeting in Redwood City, I was unable to find parking. On top of all the other problems with our anti-parking policy, it is impossible to find 30 minute parking near commercial areas for a 10 minute errand (dropping off tax documents). Parking permits don't help. Driving around in circles looking for elusive spots don't help. Telling people to bike or walk don't help. Read people have real lives and often do things other than leave home take a 30 minute bike ride or walk and then return home. People tend to run errands in their lunch breaks or on the way to and from somewhere else, or bundle errands together like a trip to say post office, dry cleaners and grocery store. These errands are unlikely to be next door and for many of us are in opposite directions. Even buying gas means I don't drive directly to the freeway but have to detour, or at least use a different exit. Confusing and difficult parking has prevented me from making lunch meetings in Palo Alto. Even if I can work out the parking mess, it doesn't mean that those I meet are able to do so. Yes, I did carpool last time I had lunch in Palo Alto and yes, we did have to circle all the way around garages to find an empty spot and yes, we did almost have an argument with the driver of another car who had also spotted the same elusive space as we did. Pathetic parking problems are not going to go away with this ridiculous permit plan. Please give us some aids to parking, not more confusion and obstacles.


13 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2017 at 4:33 pm

"The city's voicemail box for questions is full and unable to take additional messages. Emailed questions go unanswered. A website is nearly impossible to navigate."

Take the hint. Bug off.


12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 24, 2017 at 5:09 pm

"And outreach is so poor that it reinforces the perception that the city doesn't care how its actions may impact the public...."

More than a perception. "Outreach" is an expensive joke whose failure is probably intentional.

City "outreach" failed to reach out and touch our neighborhood about a meeting where the planned changes would have been a disaster. Fortunately an alert neighbor went door-to-door warning us and 70+ people showed up and got the proposal killed. The neighbor should have been paid whatever staff and consults get since he was more effective and certainly less costly!

Defeated on one front, the city continues to ignore our feedback, emails and calls and we remain a wee bit testy.


11 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 24, 2017 at 10:01 pm

This thing about being able to find a parking place in front of where you want to go in less than a minute has really normalized itself so that people are not shy at all about complaining about parking in Palo Alto. People seem to buy into this, or buy into the idea there is no parking in Palo Alto.

The other day I went to the California St. area and they were doing work on the parking lots so many spaces in the large lot behind Izzy'd Bagels were unavailable. After I grumbled and drove around a bit I found a space in the parking structure over behind the Country Sun. If I don't find one there I go down to where the Post Office is and look in that parking structure. I have always got a space and occasionally I have to walk a block or two or even three. The next place I would look is in the huge lot that spans blocks around the courthouse ... but I have never had to do that. Even when the Farmers' Market is being held. Be patient, slow down and have reasonable expectations and you will get what you need if you can't always get what you want! I hate to say it because it sounds so condescending but it also helps everyone to stick a smile on your face too.

Same with downtown. There are almost always parking spaces available in Palo Alto, and I am all for building new parking structures to make sure that is true for the future as well. All the parking structures have elevators, and some of them having many stories, but parking can be found. No, it is not fun to walk in the cold or rain, but hey, we have it better than 90% of the rest of the country with respect to weather.


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2017 at 10:39 pm

Plane Speaker, I get what you say. I don't mind walking a block or two, but I do object to having to drive around in circles for 20 minutes looking for a spot!

We have no way of knowing where the empty spots are, and at lunch time they are rare. Not much fun if you have ten minutes to run your errand before a meeting 20 minutes drive away!

We desperately need some high tech parking modes, be it by app or by high tech signs. I am sure those would be a lot cheaper to build than a parking garage!


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 24, 2017 at 10:54 pm

We are conditioned by the media (TV, movies, ads) that there is always an open parking spot right in front of the character's destination. What's worse are car commercials that encourage screeching tires and wild driving.


14 people like this
Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 26, 2017 at 9:02 am

Thank you for this editorial. I've been on the parking website multiple times and attended meetings about this RPP program. The City should give out awards to people who can figure out this unbelievably complex program! It is not user-friendly at all. The staff seem unenthusiastic and pressured to implement this program by the elected officials.


5 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 27, 2017 at 9:03 am

I hope the new parking garages have those lights that they have at Santana Row and Valley Fair mall so drivers can quickly identify whether there is an open spot in a particular lane. I am sure it is expensive to install, but if the people of Palo Alto are so worried about having to drive around in circles for 20 minutes, then this is a good solution (albeit a likely expensive solution).

Also, if driving in circles is so problematic, people should take the public transportation they so often urge others to take, then walk some.


3 people like this
Posted by Common Sense
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 27, 2017 at 9:31 am

I hope the new parking garages don't have people living in them, breaking into cars and robbing people like at the garages downtown and at Stanford Shopping Center.


12 people like this
Posted by Robert Smith
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2017 at 12:20 pm

I work at a research firm in the California Avenue district.

I really don't expect the city to do a good job at any aspect of this.
-- the city has historically not provided parking, preferring to imagine that people are abandoning their cara
-- the city forces employees, residents, and businesses to fight over deliberately small resources
-- having created a scarce resource, the city is trying to monetize available parking
-- they allow builders to make massive use of our parking
-- in this and all other matters, the city does not communicate well. They really don't want to hear our questions or complaints, it disturbs their "work"
-- the only aspect of city operations that actually works is parking enforcement. They will happily issue tickets and reap the profits that result from scarcity.


7 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 27, 2017 at 1:37 pm

This editorial appears to be written more from the perspective of an employer whose offices are on Cambridge Avenue than from the residents who have been impacted by the densification of employees in the Cal Ave business district.


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

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