More worker permits mulled for parking programs

City considers adding the number of permits sold to employees in Evergreen-Mayfield and Southgate Residential Preferential Parking programs

Palo Alto is considering adding worker permits to its Evergreen Park-Mayfield RPP. The permits would be added to Zones A and B (see map). Map courtesy city of Palo Alto.

Palo Alto may soon increase the number of permits that could be purchased by workers who park on the streets of the Evergreen Park and Mayfield neighborhoods.

The proposal, which the council will consider in January, calls for raising the number of employee permits in two of the three zones of the recently established Residential Preferential Parking (RPP) program in the two neighborhoods near the California Avenue Business District (where the Palo Alto Weekly's office is located). The permits would only be sold to businesses outside the California Avenue Parking Assessment District, which makes up the core of the commercial neighborhood.

The proposal aims to accommodate the dental and medical offices near the northernmost zone of the permit area, known as Zone A. These businesses are farther away from California Avenue garages than most other companies in the business district. The new permits would not be available to companies within the assessment districts.

According to a new report from the Department of Planning and Community Environment, business owners in this area and adjacent Southgate neighborhood, where the city has also just established a new parking program, had approached the city because they were unable to buy permits for their employees.

The new Southgate program, which focuses almost exclusively on residents, currently includes only 10 employee permits. The much larger Evergreen-Mayfield program allocates 250 employee permits and spreads them out among three zones.

In Zone A, the northernmost zone, the number of employee permits would go up from 75 to 100. In Zone B, which includes much of Evergreen Park, the number of permits would go up from 50 to 66. In Zone C, which is just north of Page Mill Road, the number of employee permits would remain at the current level of 125.

The proposal to add employee permits came after staff had commissioned a parking-occupancy study that showed a relatively small percentage of employee parking permits are in use at any one time. The "show rate" for employees was found to be 32 percent, similar to the rate in the downtown parking program, according to staff.

As a result, many of the blocks in the permit area had relatively low occupancy rates. On-street parking spaces in the three zones, according to the report, ranged from 34 percent occupancy to 60 percent, depending on the time of day. In Zones A and B, the occupancy rate did not reach 60 percent at any time period, according to the survey. In Zone C, it only reached 60 percent during the noon to 2 p.m. period, which was the busiest time across the entire area under the RPP.

As part of the new proposal, staff is recommending setting a 60 percent occupancy rate as the desired standard for residential areas like Evergreen Park and Mayfield (in the downtown area, the standard is 85 percent).

In another change, staff is proposing the creation of a two-hour-parking zone on the east side of El Camino Real, between College Avenue and Park Boulevard, an area where there are currently no time restrictions. This would allow customers to use these spots, rather than having them occupied on a longer-term basis by area residents and employees.

In Southgate, where parking shortages are usually attributed not to employees but to Palo Alto High students, staff is also proposing an increase in employee permits, from 10 to 25. The suggestion was made after recent conversations with employers that led staff to believe the 10 permits are not adequate to address the demand.

The businesses have about 70 employees and 15 parking-lot spaces available, according to staff. Assuming a show-rate of 30 to 40 percent, the change would add about nine total employee vehicles parking in Southgate at any point in the day, according to staff.

City officials are also proposing creating a two-hour parking restriction in front of the two medical buildings in the Southgate neighborhood, 1515 and 1681 El Camino Real.


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6 people like this
Posted by Concerned Observer
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 14, 2017 at 11:58 am

As one of the medical providers with staff in Zone A,I'm happy that increasing the number of employee permits is being considered by the city. The two hour restriction on the east side of El Camino also makes sense.

It will be interesting to see how the neighbors react to this decision, many of whom park in front of their homes all day taking up two spots while their driveways are empty.

It would be helpful for the city to stripe out lines for the cars to fit in, eliminating the commandeering of available spaces.

Many of the residents in these neighborhoods have conveniently relied on the services we provide for many years. We just want to be able to continue doing what we do.

11 people like this
Posted by Southgate resident
a resident of Southgate
on Dec 14, 2017 at 12:02 pm

I have really enjoyed my first month of actually being able to park near my home in Southgate (except for Stanford game days, when the barricades don't deter). Hopefully this increase in business permits won't change that.

7 people like this
Posted by Great idea!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 14, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Great idea! is a registered user.

As a patient at a couple of the medical facilities on El Camino, this is a terrific idea. I actually think it would be great to have 2 hour parking on El Camino from Page Mill to Churchill.

5 people like this
Posted by PAmom
a resident of Mayfield
on Dec 14, 2017 at 2:22 pm

Um, I live on the 100 block of Sherman and we have no driveway or actually no parking on my street and all of the construction along park has taken up blocks and blocks of parking and when my visitors use my guest pass they get ticketed. This parking program is ridiculous, it doesn't really help the residents who live right by Cal Ave.

9 people like this
Posted by JG
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 14, 2017 at 3:14 pm

85% occupancy is NOT the standard for the Downtown RPP. 85% is the standard for use in commercial garages.

We have been pushing the City to establish a standard for parking in residential neighborhoods.
Perhaps somewhere around 60% might be acceptable for residents.

2 people like this
Posted by ENOUGH
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 14, 2017 at 10:09 pm

Rarely can parents dropping off/picking up find a parking space and need to idle doubleparked, and even have to leave their car for a moment to come to the door. I also often have vans or big trucks parked partially inching into my driveway, obstructing the view of cars that speed coming from Birch, which you can't see due to the parked vehicle, but because they are speeding, you have a near miss, even if you pull out slowly. There are always vehicles on both sides of the driveway and they are not residents. I've heard of residents selling or trading their extra passes for favors from merchants. ENOUGH SELL NO MORE, just how unlivable do you want to make Palo Alto?

4 people like this
Posted by Then what's the point?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 14, 2017 at 10:18 pm

It's already full on my street. If you sell more, then you nullify the point of the resident passes. Trumpism is spreading...

19 people like this
Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 14, 2017 at 10:19 pm

Why is the city trying to change these programs when they have barely had a chance to show how they work? Aren't these both one-year pilot programs?

The businesses complain and the city starts to change the rules? Why do all of the leg work in implementing the program and getting stakeholder approval only to change the rules? Would the city have revamped the programs if the residents were the ones to complain?

The city tried to fast track this through council without even talking to the neighbors, from what I hear. Sounds a lot like a bait and switch. Looking at the proposal, the city talked to the Evergreen Park business in October to see if they were impacted by the program and they said they were not. Now, all of the sudden they're asking for more permits?

How about the city enforce current parking restrictions along El Camino. Removing all of the RV's will open up plenty of spots for employees and customers to park.

As for Southgate, what were those businesses doing during the permit process? Why wait until AFTER it starts? They knew how many permits they were getting.

And there's no way that building on El Camino and Churchill has 70 employees. It's a plastic surgery center. I'd guess there are no more than 25 people in that building at any one time. No more permits for them, either. Southgate is not a business district. It's probably as far from a business district as can be in the city. I'd guess the city staffers recommending these numbers have never set foot over there.

7 people like this
Posted by Return to 2 hours
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 14, 2017 at 10:20 pm

I'd like to see a return to 2 hours. This is bogus. the problem is worse than before.

16 people like this
Posted by RVx
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 14, 2017 at 11:10 pm

I agree with Samuel. Without the many RVs on ECR, there would be plenty of parking spots for merchants (and customers).

12 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2017 at 6:52 pm

The medical offices along El Camino need to be allowed to purchase parking permits. These are businesses that serve residents. Not new companies that contribute nothing to the area, except possibly lunch money. Medical staff often have schedules where they work part time at several different locations. So even if a medical practice has 15 employees, not all 15 need to park at the same time, and expecting part time employees to share parking permits is simply not practical. We need to encourage what little neighborhood serving businesses are left that have not been hollowed out by the high demand by non-neighborhood serving businesses.

13 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 15, 2017 at 7:18 pm

When the Evergreen parking permit hearings were discussed and approved by the council, the local medical offices made a strong case for their employees being able to continue to park in the street nearby. Just as they have always done.

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

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