Parents win delay in parking crackdown

Parents of students at Woodside Elementary School, irritated at the prospect of losing their parking routines when picking up and dropping off their kids, won a delay on tough new parking regulations.

After pleas for collaboration from parents at the council's July 28 meeting, the Town Council agreed to postpone action that would ban illegal parking that blocks bike lanes on Woodside Road, a state highway.

The council is looking to preempt action by the California Department of Transportation, which would clear the bike lanes by banning parking on both sides of the road between Canada and Kings Mountain roads.

Woodside Road residents have complained of blocked driveways and being forced to walk in traffic lanes to get downtown. The council gave the school community until Sept. 22 to develop ideas about parking alternatives.

The school reportedly has insufficient parking on site. Either the school solves the problem or Caltrans will, Councilwoman Sue Boynton said.

Parents asked for a delay until late October, but no dice. The school community had better get on it, Mayor Peter Mason said, calling the council's postponement "a short fuse."

Caltrans let its concerns be known in a September 2008 letter to the town in response to complaints by cyclists, Public Works Director Paul Nagengast said. Woodside's plan would experiment with no parking on the north side west to Miramontes Road and regulated parking on the south side, but only for school drop-offs and pick-ups. The no-parking signs could be covered for special events.

Parents blamed the cyclists. "Those darn bicyclists interfered with our ability to drop off our kids, and you're going to be on the hot seat," parent Kermit Claytor warned the council. With no place to park, parents waiting to turn into the school lot will block traffic, he said, adding, "You're going to have a rebellion on your hands."

"Insensitive bikers called Sacramento," parent Chris Canellos complained, adding: "I sincerely regret the loss of freedom that's occurring here."

An incorrect analysis, Mr. Mason said. "You're not going to hear me say this very often (but) this is not a bicyclists' problem," he said. "We've got to come up with ideas that solve the problem. Otherwise, we're all going to keep doing the same stuff."

"They've been doing the same stuff for 30 years," countered parent Daniel Hachigian, who questioned Caltrans' authority in the matter.

Councilwoman Deborah Gordon counseled parents against coming back to make the same arguments in September. "The solution," she said, "is not 'We get to do whatever we have been doing and the heck with the neighbors and the rest of the community.'"

Judy Siever, a Woodside Road resident, added: "I think the kids need to have a safe way to get to school. There isn't a safe place to ride their bikes or walk."


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Posted by Guilty as Charged
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 4, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Woodside Elementary parents are not the only people parking along this stretch. The library's parking lot overflows any time the library has an event, and some parked cars are overflow from the restaurants and shops.

The businesses and institutions on this stretch need more parking than currently exists. Furthermore, neither school parents nor library patrons are going to be willing to walk far along an unsafe (not to mention muddy) verge with their young children.

It would be a mistake to frame this issue as solely a school problem. A real solution has to accommodate everyone who comes to this part of Woodside.

The best I can come up with is more parking -- public parking, shared by all who come to the area. But maybe someone is more creative than I am and can think of something else that would work.

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Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Woodside School
on Aug 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm

The reason for implementing the restrictions on parking is to make it safer for everyone - including those who want to walk, bike or drive on the Woodside Road, which is a state highway. If the bike lane is not blocked by cars, children on foot and bikes will be able to get to school more safely, and less parking will be needed. The parents who spoke would rather hustle their small children across a busy street than spend two extra minutes walking from the school parking lot which is 100 feet further from their children's classrooms. They ignore the existing "No Parking" signs, which were erected so drivers can see oncoming traffic,leave the streets full of litter which falls from their cars, and force the nearby neighbors to have to call the sheriff to move cars so they can exit their own driveways. Woodside does have a large public parking lot - which is usually empty, in the town center. Library patrons can park at the school lot which is usually only full during drop off and pick up times.

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Posted by Catherine Latta
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Aug 5, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Please get your reporting on what was said at the meeting accurate. Mr. Claytor's views are misrepresented in this article.

Catherine Latta

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Posted by Brian
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Aug 5, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I see a lot of kids riding to school, and I'd think at least some parents would prefer having clear, safe bike lanes to parking. The problem is especially bad near the big fish, where bikes are traveling slowly and there isn't much room for the parked cars to get out of the way.

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Posted by Cathy
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 6, 2009 at 10:11 pm

On numerous occasions I've walked from the library to the Bakery or Roberts along this route. Instead of a pleasurable experience, which any walk on a beautiful day in a "rural" area should be, it was always fraught with nervousness and fear because of this crazy parking situation. The town's found a reasonable solution that should at least be tried.

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Posted by Brian
a resident of another community
on Aug 10, 2009 at 2:29 pm

So if drivers park illegally on a major state highway, endangering students, pedestrians and cyclists, Woodside is OK with that, but if a bicycle rolls through a right turn, endangering no one, it's time to issue tickets. Where is the outcry about respect for the law when it's drivers who are breaking it?

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