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Guest Opinion: Put parking costs where they belong — on businesses

Original post made on Nov 20, 2020

Ending all-day business parking in all residential neighborhoods is a straightforward goal that contributes to making our streets safer, reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips and protecting residential quality of life.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 20, 2020, 6:52 AM

Comments (11)

21 people like this
Posted by Michael H
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 20, 2020 at 11:06 am

Michael H is a registered user.

A key quality of life question that has never been adequately adressed is, "Why are any permits for commercial businesses to park in adjacent residential neighborhoods issued as along as ample space is available in nearby parking garages?"

15 people like this
Posted by paul
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2020 at 11:21 am

paul is a registered user.

In the Palo Alto I knew residents and local serving businesses supported each other. This is why many residents backed the new garage. Sadly some businesses and landowners no longer believe in this idea. They view their adjacent neighborhoods as a parking resource.

21 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 20, 2020 at 12:42 pm

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

Thank you for stating the issues so clearly.

When large under-parked commercial developments are approved by the City, residents are told not to worry about any parking deficits because this area is so "transportation rich". Yet those same property owners and certain City Council members go into an absolute state of "the roof is falling" when their demands for additional parking spaces in the new garage and in the residential areas (as happened in 2018) are met with resistance.

As the City staff admitted in the Council meeting on November 16, the City has little information about parking demand in the Cal Ave commercial area, and the parking policies in this district are a mess. Given the surfeit of parking in the area now (and perhaps in the future) due to Covid, we have a wonderful opportunity to sort this mess out. It is time to get the employees out of the neighborhoods and have a new plan for dealing with the traffic and parking problems along Cal Ave in place when and if workers come back to their offices in large numbers. Evergreen Park deserves the same protections from all-day employee parking that College Terrace and Old Palo Alto -- neighborhoods that are also adjacent to Cal Ave.

4 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 20, 2020 at 1:39 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

There is a problem with employee parking in South PA due to both employees and visitors at the Oshman Center / JCC. They park in residential areas like they have assigned themselves spaces on streets. They leave fast food wrappers, plastic bottles, paper trash, and expect the neighbors to pick up after them. Worse is when the street cleaner comes and the street is filled up and the street is not picked up.

When they were in the building mode the residents were told there would be no overflow parking. Now we find that the employees are told to park outside the facility so there is more room for the visitors.

I went over to talk to the management and was told that the residents surrounding the Gunn campus asked the city to put up signs restricting parking so the kids would park on campus. That is one resolution to the problem - restrict parking. But that did not help in this problem.

These type problems arise when any organization has a growth plan to add more programs and limited space to house those programs. Suggestion - put some of those programs over at CHS which has extensive parking space. Another is to pay for part of the parking lot and run a shuttle between CHS and JCC.

What I tell people now on the street is that their license number is filmed with any trash left and will be reported to the police as a littering issue. And any litter will not be picked up by the residents. Oshman/JCC has opportunities to lease more parking space from the company parking lots. That reduces the walk for the employees.

For future organizations that plan on building in the area on San Antonio there has to be available parking for the tenets.

The city cannot approve projects for any location which has not addressed the issue of parking. Any business on San Antonio will need cars to get there so there is no avoiding the issue.

Next issue is that Mountain View is getting funding to build a homeless shelter on the city border across from the Green House. That could get dicey if not dome right.

10 people like this
Posted by jc
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2020 at 2:03 pm

jc is a registered user.

The question is, why is there an assumption that city hall staff assume responsibility for providing parking for landlords who choose to lease office space to companies whose employee count exceeds the parking provided.

The answer is, if a company's employee commute needs can't be met by their landlord, then it is time for the company to move to office space that can.

6 people like this
Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 20, 2020 at 2:35 pm

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

The next city council has at least 6 to 12 months before economic recovery commences and office workers and other commerce picks in the Univ and Calif Ave commercial cores. What is city staff doing during the lull?

Our current Mayor, City Manager and Office of Transportation could be spending time planning how to refill residential neighborhood with non-resident vehicles. This first impulse seems to be pushing the low-wage workers out of the commercial core public parking to accommodate the highly paid tech titans. This is ironic because there are hundreds of vacant public parking spaces for the next 6-12 months

Or will the new mayor, current city manager and Office of Transportation commence serious engineering and problem solving to fit the commercial parking demand into the parking space supply within the commercial cores. Implement all the past lofty transportation demand management agreements signed by developers, if staff can find them. Install technology so customers and workers can find vacant parking space. Convene Council Study Session to understand what the $500,000/yr Palo Alto Transportation Management Association has been doing and could be doing in the covid recovery cycle. Stop creating parking shortages with developers who benefit from parking exceptions, exemptions, variances and lost agreements.

Modernize creaky city process in file cabinets with proven technology in use throughtout the world. Palo Alto city government claims to be a center of the technology universe....NOT!

11 people like this
Posted by jc
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2020 at 2:54 pm

jc is a registered user.

The only group of employees that the city should be helping solve parking issues for are businesses that are open to and serve the public. In other words, those low wage employees we depend on. To help every local business survive and come back after this catastrophic economic downturn is over.

12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 20, 2020 at 4:57 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Good piece and good points about only giving permits to workers at resident-serving businesses. Remember the long-running battle the poor doctors and dentists with offices near downtown and Cal Ave waged to get ANY parking permits for their workers?

The conduct of the Chamber of Commerce, other business lobbying groups and our city staff and "leaders" has been shameful as they allow all the under-parked hotels and companies based on the car-light fairy tales while opposing all attempts to impose a business tax. It shouldn't be rocket science to create, maintain and update a business database and note which businesses serve residents and which are simply offices located here.

8 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 21, 2020 at 8:52 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I was on San Antonio yesterday at commute time. In the area where they are building a hotel and project to build a new residential area the traffic was up to it's pre-covid norm.

The city put in a planted medium which boxes the cars in so there is no room for bikes In the section leading up to Middlefield.

The city controls the approval process for any new building. The city does control the end product to a degree - but it obviously in the past has granted waivers and waived their hands around saying commercial transit is the key to the solution.

WE do not see any commercial transit so forget that spin. What we see is people buying older cars to just get around.

So that is where we are at - we all know it and see it.

6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 21, 2020 at 10:36 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Re parking garages, why aren't employers required to buy their workers permits for the garages rather than pushing those workers into neighborhoods? Seems like a simple enough solution. What am I missing? We know the workers don't want to pay for the parking permits but the city does -- or should -- have some leverage.

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Posted by jc
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 21, 2020 at 12:16 pm

jc is a registered user.

My understanding is that the downtown garage(s) do or did have a problem with emloyers buying up multiple parking permit reserved spots and not using them. Which resulted in multiple unused parking slots in the parking permit reserved sections of the garages.

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