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When do public streets become private streets?

Original post made by Public streets, Charleston Gardens, on Sep 26, 2008

This little tidbit was in the Around Town section of today's PA Weekly:

"WILKIE PARKERS BE WARNED ... If you have any thoughts of parking on Wilkie Way, or other nearby Charleston Meadows streets, be forewarned: Nearby neighbors may track you down to figure out why, exactly, you are parking on their street. Carlin Otto and other concerned neighbors have spent six months checking license plates, leaving notes on vehicles and scoping out driveways and garages in Arbor Real to pinpoint the source of the cars. They've found that 32 cars that belong in Arbor Real park "routinely" on neighboring streets such as Wilkie Way. Parking has been a hot issue in Charleston Meadows for years, as neighbors successfully shut down attempts to link a bike or pedestrian path to new developments on El Camino Real due to fears of parked cars would eliminate space for Charleston Meadow homeowners and their guests. Otto has been attending recent public meetings sharing the results of the investigations. "This is a permanent thing," she said."

Couple of questions --Is Wilkie Way a public street? What right does Carlin Otto have trying to "figure out why, exactly, you are parking on their street"? What makes it "their" street?

I hope that residents of Arbor Real will report these actions to the proper authorities and that people from the city will educate Ms Carlin and other residents of Wilkie Way as to the nature of public streets in Palo Alto. (or is the city afraid to say anything to the "powerful" Charleston Meadow Neighborhood Association)

Also this begs the question if walkability is such a big thing in PA (it is constantly talked about by council members( why did the council agree to eliminate a bike and/or pedestrian path connecting the development and Wilkie Way (me thinks it is again fear of standing up to the neighborhood)

Comments (12)

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Posted by Public indeed
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2008 at 3:06 pm

Something wrong here, indeed.

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Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2008 at 7:05 pm

This watchdog effort is commendable and should be expanded and extended throughout all of the neighborhood associations. Not only should these vigilant citizens track where the owners of every car parked on public streets live but keep careful watch how long each car has been parked. Any car parked over the 72-hour parking limit can be reported and towed in an efficient manner.

Security in our neighborhoods should be the foremost priority of each and every member of all of the neighborhood associations. We must monitor the parking habits on our public streets, collect in detail this data and share this with law enforcement at local, state and federal levels.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2008 at 5:05 am

I am troubled by this story too. Wilkie Way is a public street and anyone can park on it at any time so long as they don't block driveways, and change the location of their car every 72 hours.

It is one thing to take down license plate numbers but it is another to attach a name and address to those license plates. This information is held by the DMV and only Police Departments have access to it. How are they finding out that these cars belong to residents of Arbor Real?

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2008 at 6:56 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

People who want their streets to become private should be required to buy them back.

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Posted by Three Cheers
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2008 at 10:19 am

Three cheers to neighborhoods that defend themselves against intrusions into their quality of life.
Until all neighborhoods do it, the greedy over-developers will keep on building.

To whom should the city council be responsible if not residents??? to the greedy?

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Posted by Public streets
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Sep 27, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Concerned citizen --fine if this is a watchdog effort against crime, then that is okay and the 72 hour parking rule should be enforced. However it sounds like an effort to turn a public street into a private enclave. residents of Arbor Real and any other part of the city have the right to park on Wilkie Way as long as they obey the rules.

Three Cheers--what intrusions? Isn't Wilkie Way a public street? It seems like Charleston Meadow gets away with a lot--mainly because the council is afraid to stand up to them--they let them shut down the Alma Plaza redevelopment, they let them drive off Hyatt, they let them shut off any access from Arbor Real even though they tout walkablility etc.
Time for the city to stand up to them. The city needs to look into exactly what Carlin Otto are doing and where they are getting their information from.

It does not sound to me like Charleston Meadow is a very nice neighborhood--at least the people seem to be very unfriendly and territorial. As walter proposed above, let them buy back the streets and make them private.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 27, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Thank you to the Weekly for bringing this information to light.

If I was legally parking on any street in any neighborhood for any reason in Palo Alto, I would not want some private individual taking down my license plate number for any reason and particularly not to track where else I was parking or where I lived.

I often park for many reasons outside homes in Palo Alto other than my own. I visit friends, I go about church business or meet with other people I have personal business with, and that is my business, not anyone else's.

If a local resident is taking down my number I ask haven't they anything better to do, but more than that, I would tell them to mind their own business.

Perhaps we should start taking their plate numbers and if we see them outside a home anywhere else in Palo Alto write a message to them. But then of course, we know that they are perfectly entitled to do so and we wouldn't have the time or energy to do this as well as the inclination.

Kudos Weekly for discovering this and passing the information on. I feel even more sorry now for those individuals who have moved into Arbor Real and the neighborhood they have acquired.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 28, 2008 at 4:47 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Greedy over-developers?
Another raise the drawbridger heard from.
Where do people get this silly attitude that now that they have arrived no one else should get on the bus?

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Posted by Bikes2Work&School
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 29, 2008 at 12:08 pm

As our family of 4 is bicycling to school and work, we have found a need to park one vehicle on the street on a regular basis. We move the car most weekends, but try to park in front of our own home to minimize impacts to our neighbors. We recognize our neighbors in apartments also have a second vehicle that needs to be parked on the street. So, we all share the public resource and try to get along in the spirit of tolerance and community-building.

Let us welcome our new residents who are raising the children of our future who will hopefully bring innovative solutions to many of the world's more serious problems.

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Posted by one car
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2008 at 2:26 pm

bikes to work

Since you bike to work and school and only have room for one car, I was wondering why you needed more than one car? When my husband worked in biking distance of our home and the kids were in the elementary school round the corner from our home, we only had one car because we only needed one car. The one car was used by my husband if it rained hard, or if he had meetings, and I used the car for grocery shopping. We were able to share a car without any real difficulties.

Serious question, not a flippant taunt.

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Posted by LAZLO TOTH
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 1, 2008 at 7:00 pm

What a sad pitiful life these unfortunate people have. Wow, if only I had the time to stalk car owners who park on public streets. Please get a life! Life is so short and here y'all are putting sticky notes on car windows! How sad! How Palo Altan!

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Posted by Neighborhood Activist
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 7, 2008 at 11:46 am

Let's get the facts straight. First: The streets within the Arbor Real development are PRIVATE. You or I cannot park on those streets except as a guest of a resident. Second: Before construction started, Arbor Real assured the City it was providing enough parking spaces and that there would be NO OVERFLOW parking. This parking study was implemented to prove how wrong this promise was. Third: the license plate and address tracking project is intended to document for the City just how many parking spaces Arbor Real is SHORT. This should help the City require adequate parking spaces from FUTURE developments. This will help every single neighborhood in Palo Alto.

Kudos to residents who care about the quality of our City and living environment! If we don't protect it, Palo Alto will rapidly turn into South San Francisco: no street parking spaces at any time of day or night, ugly boxy tall buildings, no open space, no yards, no trees, tons of traffic, noise, and concrete.

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