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Cal. Ave. businesses are feeling the pain — and waiting for the gain

Original post made on Feb 7, 2020

Ten months into the construction of a parking garage in the California Avenue business district in Palo Alto, business owners and managers who lobbied for it say that foot traffic and sales have declined by whopping percentages.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 7, 2020, 6:53 AM

Comments (14)

Posted by Neighbors
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2020 at 8:18 am

I thought the new urbanism planning fairies make everything right when there is no parking.

There’s always El Camino which is now pretty much a parking lot most of the day... New urbanism planning fairies will fix everything by turning people into coral who can’t move from their spot in their high rise building.

I find this article interesting since I have gone to Cal Ave less myself because of the flight of longtime businesses and the city’s obvious attempt to turn it into Univ Ave Mini me, I.e. another unneeded office park that will displace store fronts with gyms and cafeterias.

I will make a point of frequenting my favorite businesses again, but I have no choice but to drive. (Just pointing out that Uber isn’t really rude share and an Uber picking me up does more driving than me driving point to point. San Francisco has realized it’s traffic woes are from circling “rideshares”. Not exactly better environmentally. Just saying.)

Getting serious, my heart goes out to the businesses on Cal Ave - see ya soon.

Posted by Get rid of all parking
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 7, 2020 at 9:51 am

They pushed for the garage, now they are whining? How Palo alto. Shouldn't the plan be too get rid of all parking near California Avenue, so then people will bike and walk? Isn't that the Palo alto way?

Posted by California Avenue Like Downtown PA...Ruined
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 7, 2020 at 9:59 am

Palo Alto simply should have left the California Avenue area ALONE. It was doing OK before all of this new parking-related mess.

Like Leland Stanford...go take your neurosis somewhere else.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2020 at 10:07 am

>> foot traffic and sales have declined by whopping percentages.

It is all the millennials speeding down the sidewalks on their scooters and segways and etc. Too dangerous to walk into and out of businesses.

Posted by Anon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 7, 2020 at 11:10 am

'It's easier to come to your Mountain View location than to keep looking for parking." You have to be kidding! I am never able to find parking spot at lunch time. Mountain View is far worse than University or California Ave...

Posted by A sweet ride...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2020 at 11:49 am

I live on the Mountain View border. It takes exactly 17 minutes to bike from my home to Cal Avenue on a flat, shady, mostly car-free route down Park Boulevard--a pleasant, leisurely ride. Even before the project, it was faster to bike there than to drive and find parking.

The people who lobbied for building this parking garage are now worried about the impacts of its construction. Something of this scale takes time to construct. This can't really be a surprise. Talk with your landlords who will be the long-term beneficiaries of this tax-payer funded project. Maybe they will give you a break on your rent through the construction period.

Just imagine if the city had spent those many tens of millions of tax dollars on affordable housing for people, instead of housing for parked cars. This is just one small example of how taxpayer dollars subsidize America's driving habit.

Let's please consider trying alternatives to driving as often as possible.

BTW...We need more bike parking on Cal Ave. I like to bike there, but secure bike parking supply is inadequate at certain times of day and during the Farmer's Market.

Posted by parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 7, 2020 at 12:15 pm

We wish the city would build a pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the Caltrain tracks from Midtown (maybe near Colorado Ave) to the California Ave train station. Not everyone wants to drive a car to get to the businesses on California Ave. The county changed the timing on the pedestrian crossing lights on Oregon Expressway, so walking to that tunnel on the north side of the expressway is now much slower and walking across the expressway is really scary even when you have the green light. This bridge would be way cheaper than a new parking garage and would bring in many new customers without all the car congestion.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 7, 2020 at 1:46 pm


I still drive down for breakfast at Joanie's. I go early and generally find a parking spot close by. The new parking garage has been a small inconvenience in my life because I used to park there where the construction is going on.

Posted by Another Giveaway
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 7, 2020 at 6:05 pm

The parking garage is being built to help commercial property owners and real-estate developers NOT residents and merchants.

For residents and merchants it is going to be all pain and NO gain. Don't be fooled by the propaganda coming out of the real-estate industry city and city hall.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 7, 2020 at 8:07 pm

This garage project didn't come out of the blue. Why didn't nearby businesses plan for the possibility of reduced patronage? This couldn't be a surprise, honestly. These business will naturally fare better when parking becomes available in the fall. Incidentally, the last two times I went into the Fedex store, the wait at the counter was so long that I decided to go to another location; the parking wasn't an issue.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 7, 2020 at 10:49 pm

Those poor merchants had to put up with the long, drawn out and costly sidewalk refurbishing where they also lost patronage and revenues. After a lot of excuses from the city, they finally got a mere pittance in compensation. You'd think the city would have learned from this. but no.

Too bad our highly paid visionaries couldn't anticipate the problems BEFORE they created them.

Echoing the posters saying it's easier and faster to go to other towns to dine and shop. I can get to the Menlo Park Trader Joe's much faster than the one in Town & Country that's 1 1/4 miles away. (Insert rant about the long-standing traffic light problems which our transportation czars have promised to address just as soon as they can meet with the "stakeholders"_

Posted by Anon, what's your point?
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 8, 2020 at 10:24 am

Anon of Old Palo Alto responded to Zareen Khan's quote (of *customers* who'd said 'It's easier to come to your Mountain View location than to keep looking for parking') as follows:

'You have to be kidding! I am never able to find parking spot at lunch time. Mountain View is far worse than University or California Ave...'

(1) Besides presuming that the quoted customers were somehow kidding, do you even refer to the same location Zareen did? (Her original restaurant, near Google and the Sports Page bar.) Fair amount of dedicated parking there, since those are the only hospitality businesses.

(2) Anon's comment I just quoted carelessly lumps together all of MV, but if it means the downtown restaurant cluster, the many mid-block parking lots and two multi-story free garages are very seldom filled mid-day *except* an hour or so between 12 and 1 when they are filled up by people going there at the most popular time possible. Come at 11:40AM or 1:30PM weekdays, you'll have no trouble parking. It has worked for decades.

If you insist on going at the worst possible time, then you are adding to the very problem you complain about.

Posted by lunchtime woes
a resident of Los Altos
on Feb 9, 2020 at 3:05 pm

It doesn't help when you come for lunch and get ticketed $49 for parking in the center "permit" section. The signs are posted way at the end of the row. That has turned me off from going there again for lunch.

Posted by Merchant
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 9, 2020 at 3:53 pm

The merchants on Cal Ave did understand from the beginning that it was going to be a difficult period during construction and worked with the City to the best of our abilities to mitigate the impact. Our community is an amalgamation of residents, restaurants, small and large businesses and workers, all of which contribute to making it such a wonderful place to be. The merchants are only saying that this is a difficult time and we would all appreciate your patronage to make it a little easier.

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