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Parking changes on the way for Evergreen Park

City Council agrees to add zones for Residential Preferential Program district; sell more employee permits

Since it rolled out a year ago, Evergreen Park's new residential parking program has more or less achieved its goal: providing parking relief for residents whose blocks have long served as weekday lots for workers in the California Avenue Business District.

While cars still bunch on blocks closest to California Avenue and El Camino Real, a recent survey by the city showed most blocks having ample parking, with occupancy rates ranging between 31 and 39 percent. In the Mayfield neighborhood just south of California Avenue, which is also part of the district, the curbs are a bit more congested, though the only time they reach 60 percent occupancy is during the lunchtime rush of noon and 2 p.m.

That's a far cry from the pre-permit days, when the two neighborhoods had 21 blocks with 85 percent rates on a typical day.

On Monday night, as the City Council was preparing to turn the pilot program into a permanent one, Michael Eager joined other Evergreen Park neighborhood in declaring the new Residential Preferential Program a "success." The program established two-hour parking restrictions for all cars without permits, which were only sold to residents and area employees.

"It reduced parking density in the neighborhood," Eager said. "We had a lot of people who were parking and getting on Caltrain, parking and going over to the Stanford campus. They have mostly moved out of the neighborhood."

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The council agreed that the program, which launched last spring, should be made permanent and voted 8-0, with Liz Kniss recusing, to make it so. But in a nod to concerns from businesses along El Camino Real, the council also agreed to increase the number of employee permits from 250 to 290, with the 40 new permits allocated specifically for this group. Unlike other California Avenue employees, these workers are not eligible to buy permits for the district's garages and lots, which makes residential permits a particularly lucrative commodity.

The council's discussion Monday mirrored in many ways a similar debate that occurred a week ago over Southgate's parking program. In both cases, employees had a hard time buying permits and, as a result, beseeched the council to increase the supply. In both cases, the council approved selling more employee permits. And in both cases, the council directed staff to expand the Residential Preferential Program district by annexing the east side of El Camino Real -- a move that would have to get approval from the state Department of Transportation.

In approving the extension of the program, the council also made some modifications. When the next phase begins in April, there will be six zones in the parking district rather than three. The move is meant to scatter cars more evenly throughout the area (Full disclosure: The Weekly's office is located in the California Avenue district).

The council also directed staff to explore ways to give preference to certain types of employees -- namely, workers in retail and other neighborhood-serving business -- over office workers whose companies serve a regional or global clientele. This direction was proposed by Councilman Tom DuBois and approved by a 6-2 vote, with councilmen Greg Scharff and Adrian Fine dissenting.

Shortly before the vote, Vice Mayor Eric Filseth called the latest changes a "pragmatic step forward."

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"Parking is a scarce resource and we need to manage it," Filseth said. "And the reality is that either today or in the future there may not be enough supply no matter what we do to meet all potential demand for it.

"At same time, we need to recognize that a neighborhood is a neighborhood and not just a parking resource."

Though a handful of residents argued Monday that all employees should be barred from Evergreen Park streets -- low occupancy rates notwithstanding -- most said they support staff's proposal to extend the existing program with the slight modifications.

The two business owners who addressed the council on Monday did so as well. Tim Mulcahy, a dentist on El Camino, told the council that it's really important that the businesses get the additional permits, for which he said there is heavy demand.

"My hope is we can get this thing together, and we can find a solution and go forward," Mulcahy said.

The council directed staff to reach out to Caltrans to get approval for the El Camino expansion -- a process that officials believe could take up to six months. Until then, the city will distribute the permits among the four parking zones in Evergreen Park.

While the addition of 40 permits will give employees some immediate relief, council members also acknowledged that some problems with the RPP will take much longer to solve. The permit-selling process for employees remains a somewhat chaotic first-come, first-served affair that Eager and several council members referred to as a "land rush."

This becomes particularly problematic when some employers buy up their maximum allocations (each can get up to 10 permits), leaving others without any permits at all. Unlike the Downtown RPP, where employee permits don't sell out, the one at Evergreen Park is filled to capacity.

"This is the first district where we've run out of inventory, but I think it's an issue that will come up in other RPPs," DuBois said.

Councilman Adrian Fine had a broader frustration. He pointed to the council's discussions of RPP districts in recent weeks and suggested that each is becoming "too customized."

"If we want to protect our neighborhoods from parking intrusions from commercial impacts, we might need to think about better, more holistic and systemic solutions," Fine said.

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Parking changes on the way for Evergreen Park

City Council agrees to add zones for Residential Preferential Program district; sell more employee permits

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Feb 6, 2018, 12:20 am

Since it rolled out a year ago, Evergreen Park's new residential parking program has more or less achieved its goal: providing parking relief for residents whose blocks have long served as weekday lots for workers in the California Avenue Business District.

While cars still bunch on blocks closest to California Avenue and El Camino Real, a recent survey by the city showed most blocks having ample parking, with occupancy rates ranging between 31 and 39 percent. In the Mayfield neighborhood just south of California Avenue, which is also part of the district, the curbs are a bit more congested, though the only time they reach 60 percent occupancy is during the lunchtime rush of noon and 2 p.m.

That's a far cry from the pre-permit days, when the two neighborhoods had 21 blocks with 85 percent rates on a typical day.

On Monday night, as the City Council was preparing to turn the pilot program into a permanent one, Michael Eager joined other Evergreen Park neighborhood in declaring the new Residential Preferential Program a "success." The program established two-hour parking restrictions for all cars without permits, which were only sold to residents and area employees.

"It reduced parking density in the neighborhood," Eager said. "We had a lot of people who were parking and getting on Caltrain, parking and going over to the Stanford campus. They have mostly moved out of the neighborhood."

The council agreed that the program, which launched last spring, should be made permanent and voted 8-0, with Liz Kniss recusing, to make it so. But in a nod to concerns from businesses along El Camino Real, the council also agreed to increase the number of employee permits from 250 to 290, with the 40 new permits allocated specifically for this group. Unlike other California Avenue employees, these workers are not eligible to buy permits for the district's garages and lots, which makes residential permits a particularly lucrative commodity.

The council's discussion Monday mirrored in many ways a similar debate that occurred a week ago over Southgate's parking program. In both cases, employees had a hard time buying permits and, as a result, beseeched the council to increase the supply. In both cases, the council approved selling more employee permits. And in both cases, the council directed staff to expand the Residential Preferential Program district by annexing the east side of El Camino Real -- a move that would have to get approval from the state Department of Transportation.

In approving the extension of the program, the council also made some modifications. When the next phase begins in April, there will be six zones in the parking district rather than three. The move is meant to scatter cars more evenly throughout the area (Full disclosure: The Weekly's office is located in the California Avenue district).

The council also directed staff to explore ways to give preference to certain types of employees -- namely, workers in retail and other neighborhood-serving business -- over office workers whose companies serve a regional or global clientele. This direction was proposed by Councilman Tom DuBois and approved by a 6-2 vote, with councilmen Greg Scharff and Adrian Fine dissenting.

Shortly before the vote, Vice Mayor Eric Filseth called the latest changes a "pragmatic step forward."

"Parking is a scarce resource and we need to manage it," Filseth said. "And the reality is that either today or in the future there may not be enough supply no matter what we do to meet all potential demand for it.

"At same time, we need to recognize that a neighborhood is a neighborhood and not just a parking resource."

Though a handful of residents argued Monday that all employees should be barred from Evergreen Park streets -- low occupancy rates notwithstanding -- most said they support staff's proposal to extend the existing program with the slight modifications.

The two business owners who addressed the council on Monday did so as well. Tim Mulcahy, a dentist on El Camino, told the council that it's really important that the businesses get the additional permits, for which he said there is heavy demand.

"My hope is we can get this thing together, and we can find a solution and go forward," Mulcahy said.

The council directed staff to reach out to Caltrans to get approval for the El Camino expansion -- a process that officials believe could take up to six months. Until then, the city will distribute the permits among the four parking zones in Evergreen Park.

While the addition of 40 permits will give employees some immediate relief, council members also acknowledged that some problems with the RPP will take much longer to solve. The permit-selling process for employees remains a somewhat chaotic first-come, first-served affair that Eager and several council members referred to as a "land rush."

This becomes particularly problematic when some employers buy up their maximum allocations (each can get up to 10 permits), leaving others without any permits at all. Unlike the Downtown RPP, where employee permits don't sell out, the one at Evergreen Park is filled to capacity.

"This is the first district where we've run out of inventory, but I think it's an issue that will come up in other RPPs," DuBois said.

Councilman Adrian Fine had a broader frustration. He pointed to the council's discussions of RPP districts in recent weeks and suggested that each is becoming "too customized."

"If we want to protect our neighborhoods from parking intrusions from commercial impacts, we might need to think about better, more holistic and systemic solutions," Fine said.

Comments

Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2018 at 8:05 am
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2018 at 8:05 am

Of course no mention of 30 minutes parking spots!

Some of us just want to do a couple of errands in our lunch hour but it is becoming more and more impossible to do so. Why doesn't the CC want to help residents go about our everyday lives?


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2018 at 10:59 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2018 at 10:59 am

Quoting Filseth:

"Parking is a scarce resource and we need to manage it," Filseth said. "And the reality is that either today or in the future there may not be enough supply no matter what we do to meet all potential demand for it.

"At same time, we need to recognize that a neighborhood is a neighborhood and not just a parking resource."

AMEN to the above and may those comments translate to a broader acknowledgement by City Staff, all of CC, and regional planners that we MUST PLAN for CARS even if we'd prefer to believe that we needn't.


Roger
Evergreen Park
on Feb 6, 2018 at 12:35 pm
Roger, Evergreen Park
on Feb 6, 2018 at 12:35 pm

To resident,
“No mention of 30 minute parking spots”
All spots are 2 hour.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2018 at 12:56 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2018 at 12:56 pm

To Roger

Yes, that's why we need 30 minute spots. When people are parking for 2 hours in the lunch hour it means there is no space for someone to park for just a few minutes. A 30 minute spot will provide much more turnover for those of us running errands rather than having a 1 hour lunch.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 6, 2018 at 12:58 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2018 at 12:58 pm

"Councilman Adrian Fine had a broader frustration. He pointed to the council's discussions of RPP districts in recent weeks and suggested that each is becoming "too customized."

Perhaps someone could tell Mr. Fine that there are major differences among our neighborhoods and they need difference solutions, not taking the easy one-size-fits all solution.


bikermom
Mayfield
on Feb 6, 2018 at 3:48 pm
bikermom, Mayfield
on Feb 6, 2018 at 3:48 pm

For the record, I leave my house about 5-6 times a day and often bike through the Cal ave area on the way to do errands, pick up/drop-off kids from school and I always see tons of available parking spaces. Just yesterday biking from Sherman, up Park Blvd, left on Cal Ave, Right on birch and left of college I counted 28 open spaces. This was around 1:15. Then again later. What I'm annoyed at is the people who live in Condo complex that's along Park Blvd and Sherman and Grant Ave who have visitors or more than one car have to walk several blocks to use their parking permit because this was extended. I have a parking permit for visitors but it's basically useful because, A: the parking guys still hand out tickets, or B: there is very limited available space for Mayfield residents. This program only benefits those who live to the North of Cal. Ave,


Nayeli
Registered user
Midtown
on Feb 6, 2018 at 5:32 pm
Nayeli, Midtown
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Can someone explain the parking requirements in laymen's terms? I thought that I understood the rules for parking downtown and in the "second" downtown (California Avenue area). Is it still free two-hour parking for residents of the city?


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Feb 6, 2018 at 5:57 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2018 at 5:57 pm

Free for residents and non-residents. Time limits are generally clearly posted. Spaces that require a permit are also clearly marked. I know of one garage downtown that charges and that is of course clear upon entry. I don't know if the color zones still apply downtown, but I wouldn't even attempt to explain that program.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2018 at 6:37 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2018 at 6:37 pm

The lunchtime parking impact starts around 11.15 am around Cal Ave and downtown. Bikermom says she has counted many spots in the 2 hour zones at 1.15 which must be the time the rush ends, but I have had problems finding parking in both Cal Ave and downtown in the morning hours. I generally try to run errands late morning, but am very aware that parking can be difficult. Even in midtown, parking in the public lot can be difficult anytime after 10.00 am until well after 4.00 pm. 30 minute parking spots would enable several errands to be done in more than one location in the same trip. At present it is often the case that doing more than one a day is impossible. Whether it is picking up books at the library, dropping off dry cleaning or tax documents with a tax preparer, or grabbing a sandwich, short term 30 min parking is crucial to prevent traffic circling for a space.


musical
Palo Verde
on Feb 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Feb 6, 2018 at 7:30 pm

As precedent, we do have a 24-minute spot in front of the Cambridge Post Office.
Fed Ex (old Kinko's) would be a good place for another.


Robert Neff
Registered user
Midtown
on Feb 6, 2018 at 11:17 pm
Robert Neff, Midtown
Registered user
on Feb 6, 2018 at 11:17 pm

I am opposed to using El Camino Real for the neighborhood parking garage system. I think it would be better to make all of El Camino Real 2 hour parking, instead of the unlimited it is now on stretches North of Cambridge. Street parking on a business district arterial should be 2 hours max.


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