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Study urges paid parking in downtown Palo Alto

Original post made on Apr 6, 2017

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, a visitor to downtown Palo Alto could be asked to pay for a scarce and coveted resource that for decades has been offered for free: a parking spot.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, April 6, 2017, 11:37 AM

Comments (64)

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 6, 2017 at 11:55 am


The rube goldberg fruity-colored zone scheme is bananas. It's time to get rid of it.

Posted by Just say No to Paid Parking
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 6, 2017 at 12:08 pm

This will hurt the restaurant and retail workers who are already only making minimum wage. The turnover will not increase patronage because there is already a limited amount of people who can eat at a peak lunch/dinner time. This will only decrease the patronage to the area because no one wants to pay for parking on top of paying for lunch or shopping. This will only hurt the businesses downtown. What happens if you do not have a cell phone or credit card?

Posted by Miriam Palm
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 6, 2017 at 12:13 pm

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

Another reason to avoid downtown and take my business elsewhere. Palo Alto is fee-obsessed.

Posted by nat
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 6, 2017 at 12:23 pm

This would hurt business in downtown because the rates suggested are so high. There isn't much you can do in 1 hour.

Also, what about people without cell phones or credit cards.? I prefer meters that use cash and that also tell you how much time you have paid for so you can add more cash to increase time.

Posted by good idea
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 6, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Hopefully a similar system is employed around CalAve. We need a way to provide parking for patrons of local businesses while encouraging office workers to use public transportation in these transportation hubs.

Posted by ChrisC
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 6, 2017 at 12:46 pm

Woohoo! Make it so. Would love to be able to consistently find a spot when I need one (in exchange for a relatively small cost).

I spent 15 minutes circling looking for a spot near California avenue yesterday and nearly missed my class as a result.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 6, 2017 at 1:01 pm

No Paid Parking !

I love how these folks are so pro-development, except in the case of creating new and sufficient parking - ANYWHERE!

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 6, 2017 at 1:05 pm

ChrisC said: ... Woohoo! Make it so. Would love to be able to consistently find a spot when I need one (in exchange for a relatively small cost).

Sounds like a plant from the group that did the study. The same number of people need to go to downtown, you would get no more convenience, but you would pay more, and the City would get more. The solution is build more parking garages ... they've even planned for it ... like in the lot across from the Post Office.

Just another way to pick our pockets ... and do we really need to prove that case. Look at the history of the last 5 years and even longer - increases in costs, fees and decreases in service. And how is it they still need more and more and more?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 6, 2017 at 1:09 pm

I have been saying this for years so I welcome it with a few tweaks.

I don't see an advantage of tiers over zones, but willing to go with the flo.

However, I do think 20 minutes outside retail would be a helpful option. For a 10 minute errand, paying for one hour of parking is a deterrant.

Otherwise, bring it on.

Posted by Close to Downtown Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 6, 2017 at 1:13 pm

So not a fan. If the City Manager wants it, I guarantee it's coming. Hopefully, people will stand up and be vocal if they are against it.

This parking option is the exact reason I don't travel to downtown Redwood City anymore. Half the time the machines are broken or not working properly and the entire experience gets frustrating.

Posted by Gerald
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 6, 2017 at 1:49 pm

Finally the City is getting something right. If we don't want as much traffic, and we want more parking, then we HAVE TO PUT A PRICE ON PARKING! Pricing parking deters casual users/employees rotating between spots. It can also be used to fund things like the shuttle or train.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 6, 2017 at 2:12 pm

I'm speaking as a non user/patron, or at least,a very infrequent user/patron of downtown PA, for many reasons, but the meter idea wouldn't be one of them. I do have questions, however. How much will it cost to implement and how long will it take for it to pay back for the initial implementation cost?

Meters are not new to PA or to any other mid-century city in this country. Great Falls, Montana had those as far back as I can remember, in the '40's-50's, on Central Avenue, the hustling bustling shopping area in town.

I doubt seriously that meters will drive away business, certainly not for the restaurants, where most people don't know, or care, how much they are paying for their meal, just having a fun night out on the town. They can always skimp on the tip to offset the meter cost, if it comes to that, or just stay home and cook.

Posted by Cube Farm Haven
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 6, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Yet another way to pick OUR pockets indeed to benefit those who've turned PA into an over-crowded office park. Shame on them. I feel sorry for the minimum wage workers and the few interesting remaining retail stores.

Will all city employees and city council members be giving up their free assured parking spots?? Probably not, but remember Greg Tanaka's promise to DOUBLE the city's revenue on our backs. Vote him and his pro-developer buddies OUT.

Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 6, 2017 at 2:55 pm

This would certainly discourage me from going there, but the paucity of useful retail and reasonably priced restaurants has already done a pretty good job of that.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 6, 2017 at 2:55 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 6, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Gotta accept cash, as in "Legal tender for All Debts, public and private". I'm not going to break out the Visa for $2. People who stack up hundreds of little items on their monthly bill are ripe for not catching fraudulent charges. I'd suggest accepting Clipper Card, which would have the added benefit of priming users to take public transit.

Posted by George
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 6, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Benefits city employees, not pot holes. Another reason to avoid downtown, another blow to retail. Likely to move parking further into neighborhoods, discourage those who can least afford the charge, and, after PA city gets it's money, not really change the parking problem. Not a fix, just a new tax.

Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 6, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. Requiring very expensive metered parking will be a death knell for any remaining retail, other than restaurants, hotels and other service businesses. Look at downtown Redwood City - that is what we would become.

If this is the path Palo Alto chooses, Avenidas and other service providers to moderate income families should look at relocating, and not expanding. Avenidas should sell or lease its current building and move to a cheaper site in Southern Palo Alto, with adequate parking. Mass transit is not friendly to seniors. There are safety issues, including the risk of falling.

So if the city's goal is to become a business park for Palantir et al, go ahead and charge SF prices for parking. If it still wants to be a downtown for the residents of a small city, then it needs to seriously look for a different plan. They couldn't even leave California Avenue as a residentially focussed neighborhood. It too is being destroyed by becoming a de facto business park. Midtown? Also almost destroyed Careful urban planning could have prevented this but the current mantra of most of the city council, is build build build, at all costs, and reap the rewards of all that developer financial support for future political campaigns, as Marc Berman did.

And they might as well be honest and reduce the goals for the amount of parkland per resident, that have been totally ignored when approving current development, as there is no way they will be able to keep up with the growth of residents occupying the high rise buildings that are sure to follow.

Posted by cash needs to be collected
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 6, 2017 at 3:49 pm

If meters accept cash, someone needs to go around and collect them which is a lot of work and $$. Cashless meters make more sense. I like the idea of being able to use a Clipper card. If you are worried about credit card, get a pre-paid Visa card and use that instead.

Posted by resident
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 6, 2017 at 3:52 pm

What are the alternatives to parking meters? A new parking garage for $100 MILLION? Only a handful of people are complaining about parking meters. If you ask them for a tax increase to pay for a new parking garage, you will get hundreds of complaints right here.

Posted by Abitarian
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 6, 2017 at 5:27 pm

I am very concerned about the people who staff our shops, eateries, and other resident-serving businesses. I live downtown, and being the chatty type, I strike up a conversation wherever I go.

So far, I have yet to meet a single employee at one of these establishments that has a parking permit. The employers do not provide permits and the employees do not purchase them. The cost is prohibitive. These essential workers simply move their cars every two hours, and if they can't run out in time, they risk getting a ticket.

These are the people that power our downtown and my feeling is the city should allow them to park for free.

To be clear, I am *not* at all concerned about the tech employees at companies such as Palantir, etc.

These firms have sufficient profits to provide parking for their employees and the employees have sufficient salaries to pay for their own parking. It is the under-parked office buildings that created the problem and they should be held responsible for the solution.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 6, 2017 at 7:58 pm

BETTER SOLUTION: Build a massive parking garage (or two) that is (are) somehow paid for by businesses with office workers and only used by those office workers.

Posted by Ethan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 6, 2017 at 8:20 pm

What is the point of free parking if you cannot find it?

The commentators that say 'I'm going to stop shopping in Palo Alto' or 'I'll go elsewhere' provide support for implementing a fee for parking.

The idea of fee-based parking is to discourage a certain amount of people to NOT drive or park so there will be more spaces available. If a select few don't drive/park there will be more spaces available to those willing to pay.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 6, 2017 at 10:46 pm

Yes, I find the idea discouraging.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 7, 2017 at 8:52 am

One thing I do not see mentioned is being able to pay by phone with a parking payment app. There is also no mention of high tech aids to find available parking either at a meter or in a garage/lot. We need high tech signs at garages with available parking and app maps with available meters.

This is Silicon Valley. We invent technology. But Palo Alto tends to ignore doing anything that would use technology to aid us in parking.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 7, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Why should local residents have to pay to park? We already pay so many taxes in this state!

Governor Jerry Brown has been pushing for even higher gas taxes -- and that was passed today. Our gas taxes are increasing 12 cents per gallon despite the fact that we have the highest gas prices in the nation. Most citizens opposed this, but that doesn't matter to the professional politicians in Sacramento.

I'd rather the city target the companies whose employees are taking the most parking places.

Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 7, 2017 at 3:27 pm

For all of the naysayers - take a look at downtown San Mateo (4th Street). They use several pay stations along each block. Each parking space has a distinct number. You can use cash, credit card or debit card at the pay station. Enter your space number and then enter how long you plan to stay - up to 2 hours. 15 minute intervals are available. After you pay, you receive a receipt/permit with your expiration time and space number printed in a very readable large font. Place the tag on your dashboard and go do your errands.

I believe the rates are something like $1/hour - big deal.

Simple. Easy. And it works.

Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 7, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Parking costs are too a big deal. I like a certain Vietnamese Pho House in San Jose,
Just to park to make sure I don't get a ticket or towed it costs $2.50. Now, I can
afford $2.50 of course, but that it the thing, these situations are exploited. Someone
above said parking costs in San Mateo were cheap, big deal. Sure, maybe they seem
cheap now, but when there is some money crunch or the City just needs money - wham
- all of a sudden prices go up - like every other service in this city has in the last years.

Isn't it a laugh how the only thing a lot of these frequent Palo Alto posters seem
to care if it goes up is only minimum wage? What a bunch of shameless non-
community oriented citizens this city can sometimes look like.

You have to realize that paid parking is a rip-off for everyone, and really can hurt
the low income people as was mentioned above.

Have you ever paid to park and not come back before using all your time? How
much of an overcharge ... 15% on average because you want to avoid the ticket.
Say I go to downtown to drop something off at UPS, or the Post Office. It takes a
minute and I paid for 15. It is a small amount that no one can do anything about,
and that is exactly what some investors are looking for - an easy squeeze that is
almost impossible to change or turn back. NO PARKING METERS IN PALO ALTO!

There was a very good program on private infrastructure yesterday on the radio.

KALW - Your Call Radio - Who's paying for the nation's needed infrastructure upgrade? Web Link

There is a lot of stuff to think about in that show, as well as a cautionary story about
cities, the example here was Chicago, about how temporary politicians in order to
meet a cash need so they can look good sell of public resources in deals that can be
as lucrative in the long term as having a pay 1-20 times for one minute of parking.
Palo Alto was and I hope still is cool that way in the free parking. This has been
happening and coexistent with the raise of rates in Palo Alto on just about everything.
Get rid of our own PASCO ( Palo Alto Sanitation Co.) and bring in GreenWaste, but
not just that, give them an opaque deal that guarantees they will make so much money
and never have to worry. Where do I sign up for deals like that at my bank or
investment advisor? Why do all the connected/wired elites get guaranteed lives,
but whenever anyone else asks for so much as a penny more in pay or a break in
their "fees" the same fee or parcel tax is charged to everyone, regardless of the size
or cost of your income, or house? That is things are regressive which serves only
the top minority of our city fairly, and encourages more and more exploitation.

In order to keep up expanding jobs in Palo Alto so they "elite" can afford to live
here they need to generate deals like this for themselves and their growing families
and squeezing everyone else out. They "steal" from the public sector, and also
be able to hide it or have plausible deniability so when a problem finally surfaces it
was that council member 10 years ago that make that decision. Oh, too bad there
is nothing we can do now. I am not saying this will happen with Palo Alto Parking,
but why take the chance when we've see the mistakes the city has made in the past,
the recent past?

Before we go along with any of these major hair-brained schemes, let see a proven
track record of responsibility and competence from our City government.

Posted by into File 13
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 8, 2017 at 7:22 pm

It is essential that the 30-minute free parking green spaces be maintained and even increased in
number for local business to provide some balance
if this plan is adopted. The plan itself reflects
what a mess we are in and it will create more problems than it solves. It's too complicated to
start with and meters have to accept coins. This plan should go into file 13.

Posted by finally!
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 9, 2017 at 2:15 pm

I'm so glad that we are considering paid parking. Giving away parking for free means that it's impossible to find a space. With a paid parking system, it will be easier to find a spot, and many people will be more likely to come downtown. This is a great (and obvious move). Visitors to Redwood City and San Mateo can see for themselves that this works

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 9, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Someone had better do a full-up demographic study of current downtown parkers. Because if there's any shift attributable to paid parking, the whole thing will be thrown out on discriminatory grounds.

Posted by Kevin Ohlson
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 9, 2017 at 6:57 pm

Paid metered parking can be part of a smart parking system. The idea behind Redwood City's system is to keep the areas in from of their downtown storefronts freed up such that people can come in and patronize these businesses, while longer term/all day needs are facilitated by structures that are farther away. Smart parking meters can be reprogrammed for different times of day to help modulate, and charge for, demand. It remains to be seen if the makeup of University Avenue as it is today is similar to Redwood City's downtown as it was 10 years ago when they put in their smart meters.

Posted by SmarterTech
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 10, 2017 at 12:56 am

I'm all for paid parking as long as it's done by cell phone (as you can do in SF). I'd say get rid of coins altogether, just phone. Tap in as many minutes as you need, if you are running late, an alarm goes off and you can tap in a few more minutes. Link it to a credit card.

As for the rates, things like parking are always a temptation to raid/raise for the general fund. I'd find the actual cost to the city for maintaining its parking there and divide that rate plus maybe 20% profit for the general fund. I'd do a "first 30 min" free so that people just doing a quick shop or drop off are not discouraged.

With cell phones, you could also help downtown businesses -- purchase something and you get a reduced rate on your parking. For service workers, they could have a reduced rate.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2017 at 8:36 am

We definitely need an app for payment as well as for finding vacant spots in both garages and meters. We also need to make the cost of parking realistic. This is not San Francisco and parking costs need to be realistic. The cost of parking should not be a dissentive for someone who wants to shop or see a movie or have lunch but should be something that regular employees in the area to take into account as to whether to buy a permit or use another means to get to work. My problem has been occasional all day or half days parking and many business people do need the ability to pay for parking for this length of time on an infrequent basis. We also need 30 minute free parking outside retail.

So I would make University mainly 30 minute free parking and put meters on the side streets and yes the residential neighborhoods with the opportunity for local residents to have "mirror hangers" for themselves or visitors.

I would do similar for Cal Ave and possibly even Midtown in due course.

The point is that the goal should be to simplify parking for those who need to park and help them to find somewhere to park for a reasonable amount of time at a reasonable cost. I am convinced that at present there is so much traffic circling looking for somewhere to park (I have done that myself on numerous occasions) and the confusion for out of town visitors who do not understand the confusing zones and are unable to find somewhere to park with easily understood rules.

If we can couple all this with parking lots at freeway ramps with dedicated shuttles, it will encourage workers to use that service rather than buying permits or feeding meters for all day, every day, usage.

Posted by Please no parking meters!
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 10, 2017 at 10:50 am

The current system is much more user friendly. I will not be in downtown very often with paid parking. We can go to Stanford shopping center for most things. (I used to go to Burlingame, close to where I worked, and found the parking meters very unfriendly) NOT in CAL AVE area either please!

Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2017 at 11:29 am

With retail struggling to survive against all the online shopping possibilities, this seems to be the worse possible "solution" to whatever problem the City is attempting to resolve.

I find very few reasons to head downtown as it is...actually just one: Siam Royal.

I never shop in Redwood City because metered parking is such a pain, particularly if I'm running into a shop for a quick errand. It's bad enough that I may have to park blocks away, but to pay for the "privilege" makes it simply not worth the effort.

If you want to kill retail, you're on the right track.

I can get pretty much everything I need from Amazon and delivered to my door.

Don't make me abandon Siam Royal! They are such wonderful hardworking people with the best Thai food I've ever had.

Try to bring your strategy into Real World 2017.

Posted by Annie's Biped
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2017 at 11:33 am

For a couple of years I've been wondering why we didn't have paid parking. Our city funds build the garages. Why not recoup the building costs in parking fees? I really like the idea of being able to use a Clipper Card, as well as cash as well as a credit card. We shop frequently on Broadway in Burlingame and find it easy to use the parking meters, using quarters for those 15 minute dashes into Preston's for ice cream. The "free parking" at Stanford Shopping Center and Town & Country is included in the higher rent charged there, and subsequently added into the price of goods purchased there. There is no "free parking," only in Monopoly. Paying a parking meter hasn't deterred me from shopping at Talbot's in San Mateo, nor shopping in Redwood City. It's high time we pay for parking in Palo Alto.

Posted by Zach
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2017 at 11:37 am

I'm afraid that there will be a "spillover effect" to the adjoining neighborhoods -- just a couple of blocks off of University Avenue -- where parking will still be free (for 2 hours). Parking on those streets could very well become hard to find... once again.

Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Apr 10, 2017 at 11:47 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Agree with Annie above.

I support the paid parking proposal and the use of technology to make paying easier and help drivers find spaces in garages and on streets.

But I also support adding garage capacity and developing non solo driving options. we are in an all of the above solution mode.

My experience with meters is that they induce customers not discourage, how many people say I would come downtown if it were not so hard to park? Many people are Willing to pay a little for convenience. Thanks

Posted by Darwin
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2017 at 11:59 am

Everyone who thinks parking should be free should read the book "The High Cost of Free Parking" by Donald Shoup.

Here is a great snippet from a review on the book:

"This book is a detailed analysis of parking problems and their solution. Shoup zeroes in on the reason for such problems: we assume that parking should be free. Shoup points out that if we decided that gasoline should be free, the result we would expect would be obvious: people would drive too much, shortages of gasoline would develop, fights would break out over scarce gas, and governments would go broke trying to pay for it all. Shoup shows that parking is no different. Providing free parking leads to overuse, shortages, and conflicts over parking. Cash-strapped local governments and neighborhoods lose out, too. Free parking is like a fertility drug for cars. Many people don't realize how much of the high price of housing is due to requirements by local governments that a certain number of parking spaces must be provided. These costs are paid by everyone, including those who don't own a car."

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2017 at 12:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford started charging for parking 40 YEARS ago based in part on a report that stated:

"There are several important reasons to establish, with all due
haste, a comprehensive parking and transportation system at Stanford.
As members of an institution of higher learning, we pride ourselves on
staying at the forefront of knowledge and frequently being at the vanguard
of social change. At present, the energy crisis and environmental
concerns that face the nation should lead us at Stanford to a policy
that would de-emphasize the importance of the private motor vehicle as
the primary mode of transportation. One would hope that this community
could translate its concern with environmental and conservation problems
into a practical demonstration through its own policies and our behavior.
If we are incapable of taking a tough posture on environmental and energy
conservation issues, it is frightening to speculate about the ability of
the country-at-Iarge to make the same difficult decisions.”

The fees generated by parking permits at Stanford support all new parking lot construction and the free to all Marguerite Shuttle.

Perhaps it is time for Palo Alto to catch up.

Posted by Katie Behroozi
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 10, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Zach, re: neighborhood parking, there are clear ways around this, e.g. adopting a neighborhood permit parking system as they do on campus. I can't park in the Stanford faculty housing area on the street unless I have a sticker in my car OR one of the temporary permits that residents receive for nannies/gardeners/etc. Seems to work pretty well for Stanford.

I agree with Peter Carpenter, and hope that Menlo Park and Palo Alto both come to see the benefit from better parking and transit management.

Posted by tjtj
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2017 at 1:03 pm

If you want a vibrant downtown, do NOT put up barriers to access.
Keep the parking downtown free, and continue limiting the time as we do today.
And build more lots!

Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 10, 2017 at 1:09 pm

FINALLY, AT LAST!! Some people are too cheap to pay for parking anywhere, and that's o.k. Maybe we can look forward to fewer people on the downtown streets of our fine City, and that would be a positive!

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Crescent Park

on Apr 10, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Free parking" is a misnomer. What we have in downtown Palo Alto is subsidized parking where all the taxpayers pay the cost for a smaller number of people who want a free benefit.

Posted by Grumpy Old Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Apr 10, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Coming from a city with parking meters - don't forget all the 'attendant' costs of parking meters:

Parking Meters require maintenance. They require a 'collection' service for the coins and security. Hence we're talking about new employees to maintain these machines and collect their take.

Meters in San Francisco take credit cards; hence they need wireless/wi-fi connections to process payments. They also have specialty pre-pay cards that the city issues. And then there's vandalism of the meters. (turns out in the past they used to 'screw' onto the posts; thieves figured this out and unscrewed several blocks of meters and took them home. )

Oh, and we'll need change dispenses otherwise the local merchants will go nuts grabbing quarters; or alternatively, the homeless guys will make a profit on change making operations.

Finally, meters do have a way of discouraging shopping as parking is still free over at Stanford.

There are no easy questions to this problem. Mine? Make the downtown property owners pay for the next garage, including the costs of maintenance and the parking patrol. They're the ones benefiting off of the congesting and high rents.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 10, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Rates seem a little high. I would prefer a cash option, at least at some of the meters. The different areas with tiers (of rates) smacks of an excuse for more bureaucracy. If everything has to be elaborate, there's a great excuse for a complex system with a full bureaucracy of government employees (and their outstanding benefits and perks) behind it. Keep it simple, state the specific goals of the proposed plan: let there be transparency. Then I can get my head around it. Let it be something locals and visitors can quickly understand and use effectively and efficiently.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Free parking is a perk which nobody really understands. Whether it is free parking to shop or free parking to play, or free parking to work, it costs somebody something.

A parking lot or a garage has to be maintained, cleaned to some extent, and some type of security is required. None of this is free. In a place like Palo Alto where land is at a premium, the cost of the land is probably one of the biggest expenses.

I have worked jobs where there was no free parking and it bothered me or my coworkers not at all. One of the benefits of having no free parking in one place was that everybody used public transportation and everybody had to leave on time or miss the train/bus, which meant nobody asked you to do something extra at the end of the day so we had to be organized enough to understand that going home and leaving on time was a priority. Another benefit in a different place was that we all walked quite a bit each day, something that many office workers in particular need to do more of.

But a free parking spot where you work imo should be a taxable perk. If that happened, it would make everyone think about alternatives.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 10, 2017 at 2:30 pm

How much "parking relief" will this REALLY provide? It seems that most pay-to-park places are still just as inundated with parking issues anyway. The only difference is that the city's coffers are fattened.

There is definitely a parking problem in downtown Palo Alto. However, I think that the culprits aren't patrons of dentists, restaurants, shops or theaters. The culprits that created the mess are found in city whose leaders who approved offices in an area where there wasn't enough parking in the first place.

It is funny that Ike's Place -- a proposed sandwich shop -- never opened in downtown Palo Alto because of city red tape. Yet, the city apparently has no problem with zoning of office space in the downtown area. If a sandwich shop cannot open downtown because of a "change in use" (even though it was being used for a nearly identical purpose), then change the rules for offices downtown.

Web Link

If you want to help the residents of that area, then simply and universally BAN PARKING WITHOUT PERMITS altogether in that area. If you're not a resident, then you simply cannot park there and will be towed if you do. This would alleviate parking issues for homeowners on streets adjacent to the downtown area. A handful of parking tickets and a towed vehicle would quickly deter future parking infractions.

Every office building whose lease is up or is looking to move into the area should be forced to pay for a parking fee for each employee that will park (revenue that would be dedicated to parking structures). In fact, those paid employee spaces for employees could be ASSIGNED SPACES on Mondays through Fridays 5 AM until 10 PM.

I strongly suspect that parking meters would do little to alleviate the frustration from parking issues in the downtown area. In fact, it may simply drive the problem just a few more blocks further out. A complete BAN on parking in residential neighborhoods without a registered residential pass (provided to residents of a physical address) would ease the real issue.

I just don't understand why some people always assume that fleecing more money from the public is somehow a necessary step to alleviating problems. It should be the LAST STEP and not the first.

Instead of shifting to parking meters (which would potentially hurt certain businesses), ban parking in residential neighborhoods (for non-residents) and force offices to cough up the $$$ to pay for their workers' parking (or train fare).

Posted by pestocat
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 10, 2017 at 2:47 pm

As others have mentioned, Palo Alto had parking meters downtown until the early 1970s. Stanford Shopping Center was taking all the merchant's business and so it was agreed to remove the meters and I believe I recall that the merchants were and are charged an annual fee representing the lost revenue that the meters brought in. Now the discussion is that the parking meters should be brought back. Where this comes from is the SIP or Sustainability Implementation Plan. It will be discussed at the April 17th council meeting. One of the SIP goals is to reduce Green House Gases (GHG) or carbon dioxide coming from automobiles. This quote is from the Mobility page "Consider institution of paid parking at City-owned parking lots and garages, and evaluate ways to achieve comparable programs at private parking sites; apply net parking revenues to non-auto alternatives." With parking meters downtown, there will fewer cars, fewer customers for the merchants and thus lower sales and income and fewer employees too. The SIP is from the same folks that wanted to take away your gas stove and encourage or force you to replace your natural gas water heater and furnace with heatpump versions. This is off the table for now. But will GHG be lowered, I don't see how, people will just move their business to other parts of the city or to other towns. It may even increase GHG because of longer trips. But city staff can report fewer cars downtown and that means lower Green House Gases. This makes no sense. City council members must clearly state that bringing back parking meters means fewer cars and less business for the merchants and no real savings in GHG.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 10, 2017 at 3:32 pm

According to another article today, the downtown garages are currently under-utilized during the work day by the commuters flooding our city while they clog our streets searching for street parking. Evidently the garages are only full AFTER work by people having dinner.

The city should really get serious about forcing the commuters/workers who triple our population each work day to use the existing garages and they should stop approving under-parked offices and hotels so they can charge us for neighborhood parking permits to accommodate the commuters! Enough.

Someone posted elsewhere about the $4.5 MILLION the city spend on a a $4,500,000 "way-finding" system to help people navigate around City Hall -- a single building!
Before sticking us with yet another fee for paid parking and the construction costs for more under-utilized garages, the city should certainly test a similar parking-spot finder app for our expensive garages.

Cities all across the country have had garage parking-space finders for years if not for decades.

Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 10, 2017 at 7:44 pm

"Someone had better do a full-up demographic study of current downtown parkers. Because if there's any shift attributable to paid parking, the whole thing will be thrown out on discriminatory grounds."

This is from a Palo Alto resident? This must be the infamous "Palo Alto Process" rearing its ugly head. Do you file CEQA study requests on your spare time too?

Posted by Merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 10, 2017 at 8:42 pm

If prolific oven moved to Stanford shopping center my life would be perfect. There is no reason to go to town and now paid parking.....No!!
The end.

Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 10, 2017 at 9:15 pm

The people supporting free parking are missing a basic point:

The people who are willing to pay for parking will be better customers for local retail than the people who are not willing to pay a couple dollars to park.

People who think they are getting free parking at Stanford Shopping Center don't seem to realize that they are paying for parking in the high prices you pay there.

Nayeli, you completely misunderstand almost every aspect of this issue. You might to study the consultant's report more carefully. For example, they recommend that the parking permits for the nearby residentail areas be MORE EXPENSIVE than the permits for parking in the garages.

Posted by Residents for free
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 10, 2017 at 9:25 pm

Nayeli, your proposal seems to that Palo Alto residents get free parking and employees who do not live in Palo Alto pay for parking. Seems like a good proposal. People who pay taxes in Palo Alto get free parking people who don't pay for parking.

Posted by Hud
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 10, 2017 at 9:59 pm

Bottom line, they don't know or care what is going to be the outcome ...
someone wants to get their hands on all the money, the jobs, the patronage
and public job security, another minor city empire for someones buddies or

Read these post, they read like fake news, fake authority making fake claims
to push a fake agenda, this is another rip-off that is being justified by the
most questionable of board hand-waving statements, and most of the pro-
meter people are probably biased. How many people pushing meters really
want to get everyone shopping at Stanford, and then once they do they'll
figure out a way to tax you for parking there as well.

Who made the study, and how much did cost ... where is that information?

You know these kinds of studies are all done by wink-wink, they already
have the conclusion they want in mind. Palo Altans need to stop being
railroaded by these development, privatization Nazis. Since going down
this road everything has gotten more expensive, and nothing has gotten
better ... except for the crowd behind the curtain scheming to get their
hands on your next dollar after this one ... come on, you are all rich, you
have the money, you can all afford the Palo Alto mordida.

Posted by Merry
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 11, 2017 at 8:59 am

Paid Parking is one more hassle downtown does not need. It is jus tanother keep
Out sign.

Posted by Hawthorne Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 11, 2017 at 9:30 am

There is an excellent article in this week's Economist on the issue of parking. It advocates paid parking and for very good reasons. If you can, you should read it.

Posted by Isadore
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 11, 2017 at 3:29 pm

Whatever happened to the Tesla parking garage that was supposed to be built?
Web Link

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 11, 2017 at 4:26 pm

I'm still waiting for Greg Tanaka to clarify his campaign promise to double Palo Alto's revenues. I see this paid parking as part of that movement to keep draining us dry and I'm real tired of the constant increases in utility rates, trash rates, etc etc.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2017 at 6:13 pm

@ chris:

Why do you assume that I "completely misunderstand almost every aspect of this issue?" You might disagree with my conclusions, but I can clearly explain to you WHY I oppose paid parking in downtown Palo Alto.

Yes, the city hired "Dixon Resources Unlimited" (a company that markets its own goods and services for "municipal parking and transportation programs"), but I would prefer input and analysis from companies that don't make their money on parking issues.

In fact, the list of customers for Dixon's products, services and management include a host of cities with the WORST PARKING PROBLEMS in America! I don't know how long Dixon has been working in Seattle, but that is probably the worst city that I've seen for parking (even ahead of cities like Sausalito, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Pasadena -- all Dixon customers). I'd actually prefer the city to look to other cities that are similar to Palo Alto. How does Claremont, California handle their parking?

Please read my post again. I simply don't believe that paid parking will necessarily alleviate the problems. Parking in residential areas can be completely banned (except for registration given to residents). Moreover, I believe that paid parking can potentially harm downtown businesses. If residential streets are off limits to non-residents and offices are forced to buy long-term parking passes (2+ hours), then why would other forms of paid parking be necessary?

Posted by Patrick
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2017 at 6:45 am

You guys are kidding yourselves that paid parking will solve the parking spot shortage problem. Now you will have the same problems finding parking, but now when you find a spot you will need to also pay for it. This is short sighted regressive tax on the poor.

Posted by Mickie Six
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 12, 2017 at 8:23 am

No paid parking! I should be able to store my personal property for free anywhere I want to on public property with absolutely no regulation. I demand that free couch and mattress storage be provided using taxpayer funds immediately!

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