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Palo Alto banks on automated license plate readers to save money, manage parking

Original post made on Feb 23, 2021

Palo Alto's newest tool for parking management -- automated license plate readers -- is expected to save money and provide valuable data. Some, however, fear that the new technology will also threaten their privacy.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 23, 2021, 12:23 AM

Comments (9)

Posted by em.a18
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2021 at 6:42 am

em.a18 is a registered user.

Does the lower cost mean that we will see the cost of permits to drop by 50%? Hurray.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2021 at 9:00 am

Bystander is a registered user.

What should be done is helping drivers park rather than making it more difficult.

We have been promised tech signs, payment apps, finding parking apps, etc. for years in Palo Alto. Instead we have had more difficulties in finding legal parking. Having spoken to people who drive around the Bay Area for their jobs they say that Palo Alto is one of the hardest places to find legal parking. Not just that there isn't enough but that it is so confusing knowing whether they can park in a certain "color" that they move on looking for somewhere easier to park. It is not always a matter of cost either, it is ease of payment. A contractor needing to work for an unknown number of hours near a certain client needs to be able to find somewhere to park and to pay easily to do so. In normal times this has been very difficult.

So if parking in the right places was made easier, it would mean that there would be less pressure on places where parking is not allowed.

It is time we became much more accommodating to those who want to visit our business areas rather than making it more difficult. It is time we lost the reputation of being the most difficult City in the Bay Area in which to find parking.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 23, 2021 at 9:24 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Bystander, excellent points! Where ARE the signs in the parking garages showing where the spots are and whether the garages are full? They've had such signs in Mountain View and elsewhere for decades.

WE only get promises and plans to hire more consultants for their gravy train.


Posted by SJW
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 23, 2021 at 10:52 am

SJW is a registered user.

FYI this is the second year we have paid for our permits without a benefit. Where's the meter maids? What's up with the City Parking Program? Just because Stanford is not in full session does not mean that the City can fall short of their part of the deal.


Posted by Carol Scott
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 23, 2021 at 11:56 am

Carol Scott is a registered user.

The cost savings that are being touted are very suspect. Time after time at last night's Council meeting, the City Staff expressed confusion about which costs were and were not included in their budget figures they presented. Mr. Tanaka kept asking -- after others had -- whether these were all fixed costs, whether all variable costs were included, etc. -- basic things. The Staff was ill-prepared to answer. Does anyone really believe that you can buy a system like this and not incur additional staff and vender-related costs to make it work?

And, even the City knows that the real benefit of and need for this technology is to maximize the use of municipal garages and lots -- including the very expensive one we just built at taxpayer expense to provide for business' parking needs in the Cal Ave. area. Yet, the City is looking for their keys under the street light because that is where the light is better. The Downtown RPP may need this technology, but what is the City's concern with maximizing the parking availability and "communicating the availability" of parking in residential areas, particularly RPPs that have no employee parking now?

The City is once again failing to manage its own expensive assets because it is "too difficult", and as they admitted, is using the neighborhoods as guinea pigs. And, by the way, a cost savings might be larger if the City stopped using Police Department CSOs to enforce parking in College Terrace.

It was only due to Council member Lydia Kuo once again taking care of residents' concerns that an important amendment was added to the proposal: parking availability is to be collected for the purpose of reducing commercial parking in residential neighborhoods -- and not to be used as a justification for increasing it whenever businesses say they need more. Thank you, Ms. Kuo. Well done.



Why is it that City employee's privacy is important, but not residents?


Posted by Carol Scott
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 23, 2021 at 11:58 am

Carol Scott is a registered user.

Thanks also to Council member Tanaka for his sensitivity to residents' concerns about privacy as has recently been expressed by commentators on Nextdoor. He brought up new proposed regulations that would require erasing personally identifying information after 24 hours, and not the 4 days that the City Staff is proposing. No one in the City was aware of this.


Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 23, 2021 at 12:49 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

And the city remains delusional about its ability to run a fiber internet service when it can't even get the city manager's survey password reset working or its much-heralded beta of its app to help us avoid roads under construction which quietly vanished after months of breathless promotion.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2021 at 1:54 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

A public street is a public street whether it is in a commercial area or a residential neighborhood. The privacy issue is ridiculous. This sounds like a good solution.

I live near the Mountain View border and I usually bike downtown. I am a senior with a bad hip, so I ride at a leisurely pace. It takes me, on average, 21 minutes--which is about the amount of time it would take me to drive and park downtown. (I ride Bryant, a lovely, quiet bicycle boulevard the whole way there. Easy, joyful.) Our planet is wheezing under the weight of greenhouse gas emissions. We whine about auto congestion and parking shortages. People complain about the safety problems that drivers create. Be part of the solution. Biking is easy and fun. Give it a try. In flat, temperate Palo Alto, biking is a breeze...and beats driving any day.


Posted by Come on!
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 23, 2021 at 10:32 pm

Come on! is a registered user.

Why does big tech always have to be the solution? This invasion into privacy isn’t worth the minimal benefits of this program. It also eliminates jobs, which isn’t good.


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