Southgate parking program gets green light | News | Palo Alto Online |


Southgate parking program gets green light

City Council votes to make residential neighborhood near Paly the latest to adopt a Residential Preferential Parking program

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Southgate's drive to ban Palo Alto High students and staff from parking on its narrow streets finally crossed the finish line Monday night, when the City Council voted to create a Residential Preferential Parking program in the residential neighborhood next to the school.

By a 7-0 vote, with Mayor Greg Scharff and Councilman Adrian Fine absent, the council agreed to make Southgate the latest residential neighborhood to adopt a program that limits parking for nonresidents. Under its provisions, cars that don't have permits will be limited to two hours of parking on the weekdays. Because permits will only be distributed to Southgate residents (with the exception of 10 permits allocated for the two businesses in the neighborhood), the days of Paly cars taking over the streets should come to an end in October, when the program is scheduled to take effect.

Much like in downtown, Evergreen Park and Mayfield, the Southgate program was sparked by a petition from residents, who launched the effort about two years ago. Since then, planning staff had issued its own survey to the neighborhood, which showed 74 percent support for the program among respondents.

Transportation staff also conducted its own occupancy studies, which confirmed what the residents have been saying for years. During lunchtime, 89 percent of the parking spots in Southgate get filled up, said Joshuah Mello, the city's chief transportation official.

Unlike the downtown and Evergreen Park programs, which the council crafted after extensive discussions and numerous public hearings featuring crowds off concerned residents, the Southgate program was approved relatively quickly and with little fanfare. Only two people spoke in favor of the program and no one opposed it.

In many ways, the program mirrors the other two. Each residence will get a free permit, along with the option of buying up to three more for $50 each. Residents will also have the option of buying up to two transferrable hangtags for $50 each and up to 50 daily passes for $5 each over the course of the one-year pilot program.

In advocating for the program, Southgate residents argued that the parking problems aren't just a matter of convenience but also of public safety. Jim McFall, one of the leaders of the effort, noted all streets except one are 24-feet wide or narrower. When cars park on both sides of the street, they effectively create a one-way street -- creating hazardous conditions for bicyclists and making it hard for first responders to reach their destinations.

Southgate resident Keith Farrell said the neighborhood had approached Paly to discuss the problem a few years ago. According to Mello, the school responded in 2016 by revising its policy on parking permits to give preference to those who live farther from campus rather than issuing them on a first-come, first-served basis. This is meant to encourage those who live near the school to find other modes of transportation.

But Farrell said the school made it clear that the most suitable way to address the problem of Paly students and faculty occupying Southgate during the day is through a parking program. He concurred that the narrow streets make the program more imperative.

"We have many years of losing rearview mirrors and sideswipes," Farrell said, noting that his car had sustained between $3,000 and $4,000 in damage from these incidents.

For the council, the decision was never in doubt. Members affirmed their support for a Southgate parking program last fall, when they directed staff to start crafting such programs both at Evergreen Park and in Southgate. The Evergreen Park program kicked off in the spring.

Councilman Eric Filseth agreed with residents that Southgate's narrow streets make it particularly suitable for a Residential Preferential Parking program. Councilman Cory Wolbach concurred and said approving Southgate's request is "the right thing to do."

Mello, however, noted that narrow streets have one big advantage: traffic calming.

"They may be inconvenient at times, but the fact is the travel speeds on those streets are very, very low and they're probably much quieter than other streets around Palo Alto," Mello said.

Vice Mayor Liz Kniss noted that narrow streets "are neighborly as well."

"It's easier to run across the street when the street is 24 feet," she said.

She also took heart in the fact that there was no public opposition to the permit program.

"I think the neighborhood is probably pleased," Kniss said.


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12 people like this
Posted by Neva
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2017 at 7:22 am

Southgate is lucky that they are finally getting the parking program
permits that they deserve. Question - will this drive Paly Students and Staff to park
over the train tracks onto Churchill and other Old Palo Alto streets?
Taking one problem from one neighborhood to another is not solving
a city wide problem? Maybe Paly needs to build a 4 level parking


22 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2017 at 7:33 am

Paly needs to do provide better parking options for students and visiting parents.

9 people like this
Posted by Wrong
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2017 at 8:12 am

[Portion removed.] Paly staff and students are not banned from parking in Southgate. They are limited to 2 hours. Try to get the facts right.

11 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 20, 2017 at 9:15 am

At this point, why don't we have permit parking everywhere in Palo Alto and use the permit system a tool to eliminate car campers?

4 people like this
Posted by Wrong
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2017 at 10:42 am

Bill - the permit system is only in force until 5pm on weekdays and not at all one weekends.

11 people like this
Posted by Stanford Trailer Park
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:11 am

@Bill, El Camino is a state road so Palo Alto doesn't have jurisdiction. Many of the RVs are for Stabford Medical patients and their families who aren't provided any reasonable housing during their treatment. Many others are lower-paid Stanford employees and their army of construction workers for Stanford's continuing explosion,

PA's only leverage is to threaten to limit Stanford's expansion and future growth plans and we all know that's not going to happen.

2 people like this
Posted by Wrong
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:40 am

STP- if palo alto has no jurisdiction, what are they supposed to leverage?

13 people like this
Posted by Stanford Trailer Park
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:51 am

@Wrong, PA has leverage because PA gets a vote on Stanford's expansion plans here and throughout SC County.

There have been numerous articles and discussions about this on PA Online.

In fact, Stanford, Palo Alto Forward and PA Chamber of Commerce and others recently announced a task force to plan the future of the 101 and the Rail Transit Corridor to determine what's BEST FOR COMMUTERS -- not residents, not tourists, not people who want to attend cultural events 35 miles away!

Web Link

3 people like this
Posted by Wrong
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2017 at 12:02 pm

STP- when did you conduct the survey that determined that the people in those trailers are associated with Stanford. Sounds like you are claiming all of them are. Are they parking illegally? You may not like them parking there but it is legal.

11 people like this
Posted by Stanford Trailer Park
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2017 at 12:19 pm

@Wrong, It being legal doesn't negate the fact that PA has leverage. I didn't conduct the survey but about a month ago there was a long discussion on Next Door wondering about the proliferation of RVs on ECR and what could be done since many consider them an eyesore. About 100 people participated in the discussion.

Several people got curious and went out and actually talked to the RV residents whom they described as mostly nice people who couldn't afford motel/hotel rates of more than $200 a day.

The conclusion was they were a) Stanford Med patients and families, b) lower-paid Stanford employees, c) Stanford construction workers who went home on weekends, and d) some other people who simply preferred RV living to apartment living.

2 people like this
Posted by Wrong
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2017 at 12:34 pm

So bottom line, there is just some comments on a website about who these people are. What they are doing is legal, they place Is not within local jurisdiction, they appear to be nice people. Yet you want to get rid of them. That sounds like a typical palo alto response.
I am one next door and must have missed that discussion.

7 people like this
Posted by about PAForward
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 20, 2017 at 1:22 pm

> Stanford, Palo Alto Forward and PA Chamber of Commerce and others recently announced a task force to plan the future of the 101 and the Rail Transit Corridor <

PA Forward is now a member of the Chamber of Commerce. PAF is lead by a developer, an architect, 2 housing construction advocates, and 2 Palantir employees. They will fit right in.
Web Link

12 people like this
Posted by Curios
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Why are the College Terrace parking permits $40 each (resident and guest), and no "first one free"?

14 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 20, 2017 at 1:51 pm

@STP - Palo Alto definitely does have jurisdiction in terms of setting parking hours. Please notice the east side of El Camino Real adjacent to Paly where the city opened up parking spots and put up No Parking 4pm-6pm signs in order to increase parking for Paly students.

City could easily put up No Parking 10pm - 5am signs on the west side of El Camino.

In addition there are definitely 72 hour parking restrictions that should be enforced.

6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 20, 2017 at 1:58 pm

@Jim H -- Interesting if true. I wonder why the city hasn't acted.

Also, remember when the city was talking about "fixing" the Embarcadero / El Camino intersection and defended its inaction because it needed to get "buy-in" from all the stakeholders, including Stanford and the County and the State? That was about 7 years ago; I guess they're still getting doing outreach and getting buy-in.

6 people like this
Posted by Shuttles? School Shuttles?
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2017 at 11:06 pm

So what's happening with adding shuttle bus service that will get the kids to/from school on time??

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2017 at 8:13 am

Paly's boundaries go as far south as Loma Verde. There is no public transportation or shuttles to get those students to school. Some will ride 3+ miles on bikes, but for many the only way to get to school is by car.

The system does very little to prevent cars for the Paly commute and this will make it much harder for students.

2 people like this
Posted by Paly will just park in Old Palo Alto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 21, 2017 at 8:25 am

Staff and students will simply park across the tracks in Old Palo Alto like people do for Stanford games.

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