Palo Alto tries to fill underused downtown garages | August 26, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 26, 2011

Palo Alto tries to fill underused downtown garages

City plans to install new way-finding signs, change pricing structure for parking permits

by Gennady Sheyner

Palo Alto boasts no shortage of downtown parking garages, including one that hulks over Bryant Street, one buried under City Hall and one that glows like a lantern after sunset on High Street.

The problem is that several of these structures are so attractive or discreet that many downtown visitors don't even know they exist. As a result, empty spaces abound at these garages even as residents in nearby neighborhoods find their streets overrun by cars belonging to downtown employees.

Now, city officials are hoping to change that. After extensively analyzing the parking situation in downtown and around California Avenue, staff is proposing a new system of signs directing people to garages and a pricing structure for garage permits that would lure more downtown employees to garages and appease the residents of Professorville, a neighborhood next to downtown where residents have long complained about their streets being clogged with parked cars. The Planning and Transportation Commission heard and discussed these proposals Wednesday night but did not take any votes.

The new analysis has largely confirmed what many residents and city officials have long suspected: Downtown garages are grossly underutilized. The garages on Bryant Street and on Cowper Street, for example, have occupancy rates of 53 percent and 66 percent, respectively, for their permit spaces in the middle of a weekday. On Saturdays, the occupancy rates at these two garages plummet to 27 percent and 26 percent, respectively, the study showed.

Jaime Rodriguez, the city's chief transportation official, said he has been hearing from business owners that many visitors to downtown don't know where to park. Some of the city's garages, he said, are so "architecturally pleasing" that many drivers assume they are other types of buildings. He proposed a network of signs at garages identifying these buildings as parking facilities, along with information such as pricing and the number of spaces in each facility.

"We want to put those banners on street lights so that people realize this is a parking place that can be used by the public," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez also proposed making changes to the city's pricing structure for parking permits. Under the proposal, residents would be able to buy a monthly permit for $45. Roof parking at the Bryant and Cowper garages would go for $30 per month. Downtown parking permits currently sell for $420 per year or for $135 per month.

The commission generally supported the staff recommendations, though some members pressed staff to gather more information about drivers' behaviors and consider simpler solutions to the problem. Commissioner Eduardo Martinez also encouraged staff to consider technology, such as iPhone apps, that could help residents find parking.

Chair Samir Tuma called the parking situation downtown and around California Avenue an "anomaly" and said the city's garages are "dramatically underutilized." He guessed that this is because the permits are "way too cheap" and that many people who buy them only use them a few times a month.

"I park in one of the garages on California Avenue," Tuma said. "It's wildly underutilized during most hours of the day, many days of the week, on the top floor."

Tuma said he supports the proposed way-finding signs and encouraged staff to gather more data to figure out why people aren't using the garages.

Commissioner Susan Fineberg was more skeptical and called staff's proposals too complex. She recommended simpler structures such as flat fees for people parking their cars.

"I fundamentally think this is the most complicated parking mechanism I've ever seen in any community, and I don't know if we're benefiting from it," Fineberg said.

City officials are also proposing to increase the city's stock of permit-parking spots. The tentative plan calls for switching 46 spaces in the High Street garage and 40 spaces in the Cowper Street structure to permit spots.

Faith Bell, owner of Bell's Book on Emerson Street, criticized this plan. She said her customers rely on these garages and encouraged the city not to restrict the parking spaces to permit holders.

"I think we have a right to feel that we have customer parking in our area," Bell said. "We should not have to pay to subsidize office parking."

City officials are also in the process of drafting an ordinance that would facilitate the development of new residential parking-permit programs, which limit the amount of time visitors can leave their cars in participating neighborhoods. College Terrace is currently the only neighborhood in the city to have such a program in place.

Ken Alsman, who lives in Professorville, argued in a letter to the commission that a residential parking-permit program is the only way to alleviate the parking problems in the historic district.

The neighborhood, Alsman wrote, is losing its "intrinsic character" because its residential streets are "now lined bumper-to-bumper with employee cars from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m." Professorville, he said, is being asked to subsidize the nearby commercial districts.

"Yes, it is inconvenient for us to have to drive around looking for parking," Alsman wrote. "But it is much more than inconvenient.

"We are now inundated with strangers everyday; we question our safety; we remove their litter; we don't recognize what was once, just a short time ago, an absolutely wonderful area that we have all worked to restore."

The commission will continue its discussion and issue recommendations in the fall. The City Council is scheduled to discuss the new parking study and staff recommendations on Sept. 12.


How do you think parking can be improved Downtown and in nearby residential areas? Share your opinions on Town Square on Palo Alto Online.

Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Why not put pay per hour parking in the garages? Many people don't buy permits because they don't park downtown often enough. Pay per hour machines would encourage people to use the garages for 4 hours or once a week.

Posted by Econ 101, a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm

"Chair Samir Tuma said the city's garages are "dramatically underutilized." He guessed that this is because the permits are "way too cheap" and that many people who buy them only use them a few times a month."

Maybe I missed something, but he said that parking is underutilized because the permits are too cheap? Guess again! And when was the parking utilization survey taken? In summer there are definitely fewer permit parkers, I assume because of vacations. Or maybe they should raise permit prices in summer to drive up utilization!

Posted by Michael Vilain, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 24, 2011 at 11:31 pm

I go into downtown twice a week to work for 8 hours. I can't use the parking structures because I'd have to move my car elsewhere after 4 hours. Buying a monthly or even weekly permit cost more than I make in my time downtown. I park in the neighborhoods and walk because that's the only way I can work in downtown.

Many Professorville residents are putting No Parking cones on the street without any sort of permit. I just move those cones and park in that spot they've saved for me. One homeowner left a grouchy message about taking a disabled parking space. I pointed out the disabled space across the street and pointed them to the PD to get a permit to block off parking. I'm wondering if one day I'm going to find my windows bashed in by these hooligans.

Posted by Michelle, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 25, 2011 at 8:20 am

PAY PER HOUR. It makes more sense for people to pay per hour for their parking. Remember that palo Alto attracts many vistors on a daily basis. In addition there are freelance workers among many others. This is a great idea but it needs to be attractive to the consumers and I think pay per hour is the way to go. Thank you

Posted by how much did these garages cost?, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 25, 2011 at 9:23 am

Didn't these garages cost $100,000,000 of our tax dollars? The city needs to charge enough for parking to pay that money back. Otherwise they should not have spent the money in the first place. Parking garages are not a charity. Maybe the city should sell them to a business who can run them at a profit?

Posted by Count-The-Cars, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2011 at 9:45 am

> "Chair Samir Tuma said the city's garages are
> "dramatically underutilized."

The utilization factors need to be calculated on an hourly basis to have any real value to this discussion. Obviously garages will sit idle during the evening hours, unless there were no on-street parking. The Weekly article does not mention highs, lows, and any reference to hourly utilization.

What's also needed is the actual number of cars that have chosen on-street parking over garage parking. This is a somewhat difficult thing to do with a limited staff, but still, there ought to be some way to get a sense of how many cars are on the streets.

Having some sort of Ap for smartphones would seem like a likely solution to this problem, assuming that there was reliable, real-time counts of the cars in each garage, so that the Ap could let a motorist know where the nearest garage that has space is located.

This would mean "wiring" all of the garages, which seems to be a "bridge too far" for the Palo Alto Transportation people.

Maybe it's time to outsource that department.

Posted by Phil, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 25, 2011 at 9:57 am

The city is missing the point again, out-thinking themselves, or whatever. Bottom line, even people who work downtown, many on a part-time basis, don't want to pay these permit parking prices. It's too much of an upfront cost. For some even a weekly salary or more. You need to have affordable day prices, or half-day prices in the lots. More short term parking in the lots as well. It has nothing to do with people not knowing where the parking garages are, or that they're not recognizable. Are you kidding me?

Posted by Count-The-Cars, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2011 at 10:00 am

> Didn't these garages cost $100,000,000 of our tax dollars?

No .. much less to build, but with the financing costs (of the bonds sold), the total amount could come to almost $100M.

There is supposedly a parking assessment district that is supposed to be liable for paying for these parking structures --

Downtown Parking Assessment District:
Web Link

It would be the second special assessment district covering the downtown area -- after the Downtown Parking Assessment District created decades ago to finance parking garages

But it's not a very transparent entity, so it's not clear who is actually paying for what, at the moment.

The following links show that no matter how little has changed in Palo Alto in the last fifteen years, relative to parking, and the management of downtown issues by the City --

Publication Date: Wednesday Jan 27, 1999

DOWNTOWN: Residents question parking garage plan:
Web Link

DOWNTOWN: City may build two downtown garages:
Web Link

\DOWNTOWN: Council OKs parking fee hike:
Web Link

What a mess!

Posted by Too much traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2011 at 10:10 am

"Some of the city's garages, he said, are so "architecturally pleasing" that many drivers assume they are other types of buildings. "

If that statement was a sad indication of what Palo Alto is, it would be funny.
that is the problem with our Architectural Review Board--they are too busy nitpicking projects to death to actually look at the big picture.
Maybe it is time to retire our ARB.

Posted by Greg, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 25, 2011 at 10:43 am

I am glad to hear that something will be done to address the parking problem in downtown area. Everyday people who works in downtown park their cars for the entire day in front of my home. I live three blocks from the downtown area and sometimes it is so hard to find a place to park. Every time we have a contractor or a friend visiting, they have no place to park. Sometimes I wonder why we don't have resident parking permits for downtown residents and a limit zone for others.

Posted by Kyle, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 25, 2011 at 10:58 am

We have these huge parking garages that are not being used and everyone parking on our neighborhood streets. This is a problem. I thought the new garages were built to address this problem. City employees should be able to park at the top levels with no fee to free up the neighborhood streets.

Posted by Gail, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2011 at 11:03 am

The color coded street parking system is too confusing and awkward.
Out of town visitors get parking tickets because the "color coded" system is difficult to understand. I also think that parking meters kill downtown shopping districts. Who thinks the city garages are attractive? The parking garage under City Hall is a dungeon. Come to think of it, City Hall is a dungeon.

Posted by Frequent downtown visitor, a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2011 at 11:05 am

I agree that visibility, improving wayfinding signage for parking is VERY important.

It seems to me as though people need flexibility. Some need to stay a half hour to pick something up some need to stay all day to work. Some, like me, need both. I shop and go to meetings downtown. Can they put in place hourly parking machines like those at Stanford and in other cities? Give customers what they need, flexibility and reasonable pricing, that encourages use of the space and visitors to visit local businesses and not to park in residential neighborhoods as much.

Permits are inconvenient to get...and occasional visitors to downtown won't have them anyway. Design systems to serve your customer needs.

Perhaps metered parking in neighborhoods with permits for residents of the most severely impacted streets would be helpful?

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2011 at 11:10 am

Studies done by experts show customers most prefer street parking, and as close as possible to the business they are going to.

Second choice for customers are SURFACE parking LOTS - behind businesses, as close as possible to the businesses they are going to.

Third choice, only when necessary, is a parking GARAGE.

Regarding employees and PA parking permits:

There had been a waiting list for districts I know of, and up to 6 months, unless it changed. People form habits easily - and if something works well after 2 months, they most likely formed a habit.

If lots of permits are available now, and employees just prefer to park {in residential neighborhoods} and WALK to work, not having to move their cars in time-restricted zones, then it may be due to these two reasons:

1) The permits are too expensive, and employers are not absorbing the cost for the employee or...

2) The parking SPACES are sooooooooooo close together, car doors are getting dinged repeatedly, so it's just not practical to park in those places.

I once saw two cars parked side by side, in the permit-only parking area in the Ted Thompson Parking Garage on Cambridge Ave (next to the Post Office). I was amazed there was only about 18 inches (or less!!!) between them. I was so astounded by it, I measured the distance between the two cars with my forearm. It was 18" or LESS.

Granted those stall are for "Small Cars" - and small cars were there, each following the pattern of the first car parked in that row, which was slightly outside of the line. One must park exactly between the lines in that row, or - it creates havoc for other cars further down the row. Unless a driver is anorexic, he/she often has to get into the passenger seat side, and crawl over to the drivers side. In the case of these cars, one driver would not be able to get back inside the car, and unless the other cars left first, he/she would be doing gymnastic moves, just to be able to leave.

I know a person that regularly climbs into her car from the REAR door, because she's blocked from entering in the normal way - and her door gets dings on it all the time. But she doesn't want to walk to a residential neighborhood, where she can easily park all day and have her car kept from being dented.

Please include the above, as potential reasons for gargages being under-utilized.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Leave it alone .... the comments here are so

Parking is a necessity, part of infrastructure that would be fine if we did not high rise buildings and so much concentrated downtown ... that is good, we have a nice city.

So, the parking garages work ... why not ask people why they do not use them.

I use them when I need to find a parking place for sure, for example when I go see a movie at the Stanford theater. Most of the time there is nothing on the street so I just drive in to structure across from the old Police Station.

The only problem I have ever had parking in Palo Alto has been the complexity of these these zones and rules and signs. Make it easy and convenient for people so they do not have to think as hard as if they were back in school solving algebra problems and they will use them when they need to.

There are built, they are there, they are a sunk cost, and a great benefit for the city, so I suspect that the only reason people are even bringing the issue up is because they have some idea about how to grab more money for their own benefit.

Well, if so, at least have the decency to be clear about what you want and ask plainly for it instead of all this nonsense about concern the parking structures are not getting enough use.

Every time I have ever used one it has been almost full of cars, so that tells me at least at those random times the garbages are operating at full efficiency. When they get full then people will NOT use them because it is a waste of time driving up and through these things looking for spaces that are not there ... especially when you see huge empty swaths of reserved spaces that no one is using.

Again ... I think the problem is the City's selfish over-management for the benefit of a few big shots.

Posted by Anciana, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I seldom go downtown, partly because I can walk to Cal Ave. or Midtown, but also because trying to park downtown is such a pain in the neck. Yesterday, I couldn't find street parking near where I wanted to go, which was at the corner of High and Lytton. Of course I tried the High/Alma garage, but only the first two floors are available to the public, (the rest is permit parking only) and every space was filled. I finally lucked out and found a place on the street, but wandered around for at least ten minutes before finding a space.

Posted by Ernie, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Maybe they are not being used because people such as myself stopped going downtown. I can go to Mountain View, Los Altos, or Menlo Park and park for free without dealing with the hassle and price of what parking in Palo Alto has become.

Posted by MoreThoughts, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm

I used to work downtown. I used car, bicycle, and motorcycle. Buying a car permit was way too expensive for the number of times I drove. And having to move my car in 4 hours was a showstopper. So when I did drive I went in early and found a street space generally within 3 blocks south of University.
If the spaces are under utilized, make them cheap enough to be used.
I was recently in Boulder CO and impressed with the parking metering and rate structure around Pearl Street there. Pop in a credit card, push the 25-cent button until the time displayed was when you wanted to leave. (May not be practical in a parking garage).

Posted by Tim, a resident of University South
on Aug 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm

Didn't people recently chase away a potential high-speed rail station from Palo Alto using the argument that there isn't enough parking? Sounds like there's plenty!

Posted by Resident, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm

As many here have said, the rules are too complicated, it's too hard to figure out how to buy a day permit. Color zones, hour differences, permits, it is out of control.
If the city's parking manager is promoting new rules it is doomed to failure. It is make-work for employees.
SIMPLIFY! Put out visible parking machines! Put up a few more signs!
and what is so hard about publicizing lists of available garages and parking lots?

Posted by Dan, a resident of Southgate
on Aug 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm

The Dan Plan:

1. Permitted parking only in residential neighborhoods bordering downtown. Residents get a permit and a guest pass or two. 1-2 hour non-permitted parking in these areas would be reasonable, but much more expensive to enforce.
2. Free parking in garages and on business district streets for up to 3 hours. This is to encourage patronage of our businesses.
3. Sell monthly permits to garages that will allow all day parking. People who work downtown should park in the garages. No overnight parking.

Posted by Too much traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm

"1. Permitted parking only in residential neighborhoods bordering downtown."
Sounds like we will be making these neighborhoods exclusive for residents, when in fact the streets are public property.

"2. Free parking in garages and on business district streets for up to 3 hours. This is to encourage patronage of our businesses."
We cannot have it both ways. Traffic is evil, is the PA mantra. THat is why we are reducing lanes on main thoroughfares--we want to discourage driving. No free parking. Parking should be $20 an hour in every lot so that people will walk or bike.

"3. Sell monthly permits to garages that will allow all day parking. People who work downtown should park in the garages"
But these monthly permits should be made very expensive so that workers will bike and walk to work.
remember, even one additional car trip into Palo Alto is too many.

Posted by Sylvia, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm

It's being suggested that we charge to park in the downtown garages? I thought the whole idea was for them to be free to encourage shopping downtown. I use the garages all the time.

Insofar as how much the permits for workers to park there is concerned, could there not be a sliding scale, with people who make less working downtown paying a smaller fee than those who earn big salaries?

Posted by Old Palo Alto, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 25, 2011 at 3:44 pm

The citizens know they exist, the issue is nearly every spot is a ridiculous "compact" spot that is so small you couldn't even park a Smart car! ;;

Posted by eeyore, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm

rent the space to Robert Frost to sit/ lie in.

Posted by WorksDowntownGuy, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 25, 2011 at 9:29 pm

How about spending $10k on signs along University that say something to the effect "Free (note # of hours) Parking - Turn Right / Left"? Fill them up. Also to the workers who find it unbearable to move their cars every 4 hours, spend a few minutes working in SF (or anywhere else) and you'd quickly realize this is not a big deal - 10 minutes spent moving your car is doable to 99% of the population.

Posted by Palo Alto Native, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2011 at 12:12 am

We are so fortunate to have free parking here. In S.F., parking is so expensive.

They shouldn't allow free parking in garages or on the street or employees will simply move their cars when need be. They should charge 50 cents per hour for street and garage parking. Low enough for most people to not complain.

Residents should not have to see cars parked in front of their houses if there are so many underused garages. There should be an ordinance against cars parking in front of a house which are not near downtown.

Posted by paloaltotreewatch, a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Aug 26, 2011 at 6:21 am

The parking garage has got to be the worst form of architecture ever invented. And it a testimony to how society has stooped to accommodate
our culture addiction to the car culture.

There are very few parking garages that make you feel good.
MOst of the newer ones in Palo Alto are ugly boxes and replace what were lovely parking lots with trees.

Stanford's parking garage next the Med Center is an example of a nicer parking - ie. not all the levels are built like a box.

I have zero hope any innovative designs will happen in this city.
The last innovative design was the Ramona street rennovation, the
rest is just tired ideas of architecture none of which will be remember or document in the future.

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 26, 2011 at 7:45 am

I agree with commissioner Fineberg that perhaps we are making this too complicated. I suggest tossing the Lime, Corral, Purple and Blue Zones and dubbing it all Pineapple Express, especially including 800 High.

More Bike corrals, but with a better color green.

Posted by Snicker Snicker, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2011 at 8:21 am

The City should let the folk who live in cars and RV's on our streets park in the garages.

That way they don't park on the residential streets or in front of our business.

Problem solved.

Don't thank me....I'm a giver.

Posted by Count-The-Cars, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2011 at 8:29 am

> More Bike corrals ..

Oh, yeah .. like that is going to solve anything.

Wonder how many cyclists would use a parking structure if the so-called "corals" were located there?

> More Bike corrals ..

Get a life!

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

My suggestions

Parking garages with machines in them to pay for parking. 2-3 hours free, reasonable cost after that. (Think of the garage in Redwood City near the movie theater). Monthly parking permits (also monitored by machines). A sign at the entrance visible from the street that tells you how many spaces that are vacant. Signs downtown directing you to the garages. Restripe the garages so an average car can actually fit in the space and open the doors without chipping the paint of the car next door. We don't have to cater to an SUV, but I should be able to park my Jetta without banging the car next to me. One color for all the on street parking downtown.

Residential Parking permits - one side of the street only. The other can be for guests, contractors and people who still want to park and walk to work. It would give residents a way to park near home without totally eliminating the "public" part of the streets...

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 26, 2011 at 10:09 am

Ditto PA Mom

Posted by Alphonso, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Aug 26, 2011 at 10:10 am

How about lowering the parking prices? - you know supply and demand.

Posted by Greg, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 26, 2011 at 10:42 am

We need permit for residents who live near dovwntonwn area. It is a huge problem for us and our visitors/contractors. There is absolutely no parking in our residential area because of all the people who leave their cars parked in front of our houses for the entire day to go to work. What is the process to try to get permits for residents? Anyone? Thanks.

Posted by lazyshopper, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2011 at 10:44 am

i would love to park more in the city garage,but i am pretty lazy,l still prefer parking at residential area,so i can walk less

Posted by soccer mom, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 26, 2011 at 11:02 am

I agree with Sylvia - there needs to be a sliding scale for parking permits for downtown workers. It is one thing to charge a professional over $100 per quarter to park, it is another thing entirely to charge a minimum wage service worker. As for the "ride your bike" comments - that is simply not an option for a worker who gets off shift at midnight and has to ride cross town or across the freeway. Would you want your child doing that? Redwood City's parking lots contain machines are simple to use, cost 50 cents per hour and are free after 6pm - check it out.

Posted by Greg, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 26, 2011 at 3:45 pm

"LazyShopper", I think this is true for many people. Thanks for saying the truth. The are a loto of folks just prefer to park in our residential area to avoid the garages, walking down the stairs, taking elevators... I think we need an incentive for folks to use those garages, or we need to have a residential permit so we can also have some free space occasional in front of our homes.

Posted by thinktwice, a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 26, 2011 at 4:43 pm

The residential permits cost money too.You might want to change your mind if you see the bills from ct permit.They are talking to cancel it now.

Posted by Parking Puzzled, a resident of another community
on Aug 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm

If the garages were free parking and the streets were paid metered parking. Would that fill the parking garages?

Posted by lazy, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 27, 2011 at 2:01 pm

It depends on if people here are lazy or not.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm

The biggest advantage of using a garage over street or street level parking, is shade. The car is always cool when you return.

For the lazy types, I would rather use the elevator in a garage in the shade rather than walk 1/2 mile in hot sun.

I agree about the size of the parking spots too. I also would like to see more people with smaller cars park in the compact spots.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Aug 28, 2011 at 9:08 am

Make the garages FREE. They will be full.

Nix the ridiculous color zone.

Charge only for the surface lots and street parking.

AND, the downtown neighbors might stop whining about the public having the nerve to park on public streets. (I say 'might' because this is, after all, Palo Alto.

Posted by Judy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 29, 2011 at 9:48 am

BETTER SIGNAGE IS NEEDED! If I didn't have to drive around a garage trying to figure out which floors are dedicated to 3-hour parking, I'd give it a try more often. Last week I was in the Bryant St. garage and I go down the first ramp and I'm on a permit floor. What a waste of time. All street level and I think the adjacent floors should be for us 3-hour parkers who are shoppers and restaurant diners. The upper and lower decks should be designated for all day permit parkers. Also, keep lowering the price for permits until you get closer to 100% occupancy. It seems really simple to solve!

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 29, 2011 at 11:25 am

A friend went downtown PA for 5 minutes during the morning, then left the downtown area entirely until late the same afternoon, where the car was parked for another 10 minutes.

While it was a different lot, unfortunately it was the same zone color. So a ticket was issued, for parking only 15 minutes downtown. The lesson is to be certain what zone color you park in, even if you're downtown for a few minutes.

At least on California Avenue, the size of the permit parking stalls aside, it's parking friendly, with no color zones.

Only one more 3 hour surface lot on the south side of the avenue is needed. I suggest the lot behind Avenue Florist/Starbucks, to balance the two 3 hour garages on Cambridge, and to respond to customer needs.

On Cal Ave, parking is best remaining free (to encourage shoppers), with non-meter 2 hour parking on the street, as it is now, keeping the mix of 2 & 3 hour parking, as it is now, and adding a *machine* for those people wanting to buy an All-Day special parking permit.

Posted by Greg, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 29, 2011 at 11:47 am

I live in downtown. There is never park near my place (for me, for my guests, for my contractors). I have to carry my groceries. I am not young and cannot walk much. Sometimes is so hard, you have no idea. My building has no garage. So sad that people just park in our residential areal for the entire day while the parking garages are empty. An incentive must be created for people to park in those garages. Or we need residential permits.

Posted by solution, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 30, 2011 at 10:15 am

"My building has no garage."

There's your problem.
Current code requires residences to have space for cars. Instead of building a garage, you choose to use the street as your personal garage.
There are a huge number of underused downtown garages. Unfortunately residents choose to use them for storage and park their cars on the street.

Posted by poll, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 1, 2011 at 2:58 am

There is never park near my place (for me, for my guests, for my contractors). I have to carry my groceries. I am not young and cannot walk much. Sometimes is so hard, you have no idea.
Nice comments
[Portion removed due to promoting a website]

Posted by Nayeli, a resident of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2011 at 6:24 pm

My 2 cents:

It doesn't have to be either/or. Pay-per-hour is a good way to go for those of us who don't drive downtown very often...but the city should ALSO provide the ability to pay by month as well.

And, I agree that the signs should be much more clear in where to park (and how). For instance, I was completely unaware that we have to pay under the city hall! I parked there once (to quickly obtain some information) and never obtained a permit.

Of course, if I had my way, they would do away with pay parking altogether. I'd rather spend my money in downtown businesses than in a parking meter.

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 21, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Solution - you live in Crescent Park where houses have garages and driveways. Actually, I should start with "where there are houses". Much of the downtown and Professorville housing is OLD and is not single family housing. People did not "choose" not to build a garage. There is no space for one. Much of multi-family housing has no off-street parking. Perhaps current codes require parking, but most of the housing DT and P was built before current codes.

People should be able to park a reasonable walk away from their residence. Businesses should provide parking for their employees OUTSIDE of residential neighborhoods. I doubt anyone minds if someone parks on their street for free to go to lunch or shop for a couple hours. But to use residential neighborhoods as a business parking lot is not fair.

Castilleja solved their parking problem (unofficially) by putting up signs on one side of the road "residents parking only" and easy solution.

Posted by menlo park resident, a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 26, 2011 at 10:26 am

Don't charge for parking! I live in Menlo Park and when I decide to go out for dinner or boutique shopping, I always go south to Palo Alto instead of north to Redwood City because Palo Alto has parking garages that have space and don't charge. Redwood City always results in a parking ticket and I refuse to go there; that city does not support its merchants. I hope Palo Alto has the good sense to remain people friendly, welcoming and pro-merchant by continuing to offer people a place to park while they fill the city's tax coffers with their consumer spending.

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