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Menlo parking a factor in closing of Boutique 4

Original post made on Feb 3, 2011

After five years in business in downtown Menlo Park, Boutique 4 has closed at 809 Santa Cruz Ave., according to Tamara Michel, co-owner of the boutique with her sister, Julie.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 3, 2011, 10:23 AM

Comments (78)

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Posted by Kathy Schrenk
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 3, 2011 at 10:35 am

Nice job Menlo Park! We really need to get rid of more of these unique, locally owned (and affordable!) boutiques to make room for chain fast food places.


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Posted by Thomas Paine IV
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2011 at 10:47 am

This is part of the Menlo Park City Council plan to improve the environment. Look at the electricity we are saving by keeping the car dealerships closed. Forcing small businesses out of downtown also reduces car trips reducing pollution. Great work!


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 3, 2011 at 11:33 am

Nice job City Council. This was a predictable result of the tightening of parking restrictions down town. This needs to be revisited.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 3, 2011 at 11:53 am

When did the city council tighten restrictions? I can't seem to find the meeting where that happened. I remember last fall when council approved longer term parking that was supposed to be in effect last month, but I don't recall more restrictions.

If you are serious, please direct me to that info. If you are just trying to be nasty old timers, forget it, I could not care less.


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Posted by Daveo
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2011 at 12:11 pm

eechh?!
never been there.
never saw the place.
never even noticed it.
was it something someone needed?
I would guess that it just wasn't a viable business.
might(?)just be the natural progression of things..


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Posted by Colin Jenkins
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Not sure what it means, but I find it interesting that there are so many empty storefronts on Santa Cruz Ave - we counted 15 a while ago, not sure if that is still the number - but if you drive down Middlefield Rd into Redwood City/N Fair Oaks, you don't see one empty storefront.


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Posted by frustrated in west menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Great job Menlo Park! City council and landlords as well. I walked downtown yesterday and was appauled at the number of empty storefronts. The parking is so confusing, noone wants to shop here. Let's make parking the same all over town, with possibly one lot for extended parking. Also, we need a place for shopowners to park. $600 per year for each permit is quite high. The small shop owners can't afford it. People would rather shop at Stanford or Town and Country in Palo Alto. What a shame!


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Posted by sometime shopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 3, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Okay, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'm not sure what people are complaining about. There is abundant *free* parking in downtown Menlo, and most spaces are good for at least two hours. How many hours do people need to park to go shopping?

I am sorry that Boutique 4 closed—it was a great shop!—but I'm not buying the anecdotal evidence that parking was the problem. Try shopping someplace like downtown San Mateo or Redwood City and you'll quickly realize how good we have it.


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Posted by downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2011 at 12:47 pm

C'mon, this is nothing new. Menlo has had 2 hr parking for at least 30 yrs. This shop didn't attract much attention here & high rent is more likely to be the culprit than lack of long-term parking. Other retailers face the same time restriction & do well.


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Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 3, 2011 at 12:59 pm

How is it that there's no outcry here about a chain-franchise Subway replacing an individual family shop, as compared to the recent loud outcry about the chain-store BevMo opening on El Camino and supposedly helping to ruin the character of the town?


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Posted by Annabelle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 3, 2011 at 1:20 pm

I shop downtown Menlo Park all the time and never experience a difficult time finding a place to park. In fact, I try never to shop downtown Palo Alto or Mountain View because it is impossible to find a place to park.


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Posted by Daveo
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2011 at 2:08 pm

I want to second the more recent views. Rents are a far bigger problem.

There is plenty of parking !!! The ONLY way there isn't is if you want to go there and spend more than two hours.

Please note the following: You can't go there to hit the cleaners, buy a pair of shoes, eat lunch with a friend AND go to the post office. It can't be done in less than two hours; so don't try it!
I do feel sorry for any elderly for who walking the two or three blocks and running a couple errands can easily bring them close to the 2 hr. limit. Maybe something can be done? Maybe an elderly parking sticker that absolves them from the two-hour limit? Let's, the rest of us, leave the parking on Santa Cruz avenue for the elderly, observe the speed limit AND stop making those crazy U-turns.

Furthermore, the parking topic has become a Red Herring, constantly harped on by some factions. Let's a) continue and strengthen our resolve to continue to strenuously ignore them (it's worked well for the 30 years I've lived here). AND try to convince them to stop harping on this topic. The last thing Menlo Park needs right now is another $3-5M bond to pay off.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 3, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Truth and others:

street parking time was cut to one hour as of the first of the year.

Web Link


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm

I like it that street parking has been reduced to one hour. It's meant for shoppers like me who want to pop into Peets for a cuppa or into Boulangerie for a quick lunch. When I have more serious shopping at TJs or Draegers I go to the 2 hour lots.
I've been shopping in downtown Menlo Park at least weekly since 1985 and have never gotten a parking ticket in all that time. Nor has my wife. Anecdotal I know but it's another data point.
BTW - I also never noticed this little boutique that went out of business - though neither I nor my wife are boutique types. Still - I do miss some of the specialty shops that have closed. Most recently, the paperback bookstore that closed for good after a fire. And Posh Bagel, though they say they'll be back after remodeling.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2011 at 3:19 pm

Scholar, I think you're on to something. I bet a sub sandwich shop doesn't cut into the coffers of another business run by a family-owned business who loves to control and try to tell others what to do and think.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm

Just a thought about the Subway shop coming soon: I expect the sales tax from this business will far exceed that of the boutique it is replacing.
I don't think a Subway adds much in terms of character to the downtown but, on the positive side, it does fill a storefront and should help the city revenue picture.


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Posted by Thomas
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 3, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Unlike Bev Mo or Staples, Subway is a franchise and for the most part bought by individual owners who are sinking their own savings into the venture. Unlike Staples or Bev Mo, they rarely are backed by any V.C. funding which enables places like Staples and Bev Mo to operate even an
unprofitable location. Franchise operations,like the Chili's that went out of business, may seem like part of a larger chain when in truth they are small businesses with the same problems faced by stores such as Boutique 4.


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Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Like others above, I suspect high rents had more to do with the closure of the boutique and other stores in downtown. As for parking, I have a foolproof system that lets me park any time, no limits and never more that thirty feet from the store where I'm shopping. It's called a bicycle.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that parking was a real problem for this boutique. Located across the street from Angelo Mio, this shop had one of the least used parking lots at it's rear of any of the lots in town. You can look at the satellite view in Google Maps and it shows lots of parking available. It's apparently a mid-day view since the shadows are not long and the lot across from Carpaccio's is full, as it usually is around lunch time.
Her actual claim was that "We had many customers who refused to come downtown to shop." Now maybe that's the excuse they used for not shopping there or maybe a lot of folks do avoid the downtown because they tend to stay longer than 2 hours and have been ticketed in the past. For me, it's never been a problem.
Here's the link to the GoogleMap view. Web Link


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 3, 2011 at 5:47 pm

I meant to say "The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that parking was NOT a real problem for this boutique."
I need to proofread before hitting the send button!


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Posted by halle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 3, 2011 at 5:48 pm

The plan that the Council.etc.supports will harm parking/walking to businesses.

Would be great if Seniors were given more time, but would Seniors be willing to advertise their ages.

I have gotten 3 parking tickets in Menlo and a ticket for not having my new registration on my license even though I was just stopping to put it on!

Menlo has plenty or time and apparently money to give tickets, but not to monitor drivers not stopping in marked pedestrian crossing areas to let pedestrians cross! A law suit about an injured or killed pedestrian...hum, what effect would that have on the powers to be in Menlo?


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Posted by Rarely Shop MP because of parking
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I occasionally pop by Trader Joes for shopping, but after an hour of grocery shopping, the remaining time is rarely enough to warrant window shopping down Santa Cruz or even walking over to grab a bite to eat. By the time you get there and calculate the time needed to get back, you rarely have more than 15-20 minutes to spend in a store. And yes I am always calculating my time when I go there, because they treat customers with contempt.

Try doing breakfast at Stacks and then some shopping downtown. There is just not enough time with the 2 hour limit. I rarely shop Menlo Park for this reason. I usually swing by just for a specific store, ie Trader Joes or Penzeys Spices and I am out of there. I have never received a ticket, but I am very aware that the leadership of the city see this policy as a revenue generator instead of a loss leader for the store owners. The city leadership can not deny the negative impact this policy has on shoppers. You only have to look at the changes they make over the holiday season, ie increasing the parking time to 3 hours, which should probably be a permanent policy. Why do that over Christmas, if the current parking limit is not punitive? The truth hurts.

I have no problem telling shop owners, and often do, that I am in a hurry and don't have time to spend as long as I would like in their stores because of the parking policy. You don't see any shop owners in this forum defending this absurd and anti commercial parking rule. I am much more comfortable shopping down town Palo Alto with their more relaxed parking enforcement and rules.

I am not a senior, and not handicapped, and can move quickly. And that is exactly what I do the few times I shop downtown Menlo Park. Get in and get out, before the parking Nazis get their pound of flesh.


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Posted by Comparison Shopping
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Feb 3, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I don't know if Mountain View has different parking enforcement, and in any event, like Steve, I've never ever gotten a parking ticket in Menlo Park, and I've shopped/dined there plenty. However, if I was comparing MV with MP and thinking of reasons why Boutique 4 does better there, I'd note that MV has:

- parking garages
- nice wide sidewalks on Castro sometimes turned into outdoor dining for restaurants
- a decent number of buildings over 2 stories tall
- a lot more people nearby- offices and condos

Oh noes!!!! It sounds like Manhattan!!!!


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Posted by Daveo
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2011 at 7:34 pm

As 'Rarely Shop MP states' they get in and get out quickly and never get tickets, but prefer Palo Alto. PA also has a two hr limits. But perhaps (?) their enforcement is not as thorough. or as timely?

Sounds like a number of the complainers don't mind the two hour limit as much as they mind getting caught when they exceed it.

Stop griping as it appears that in this case the Government has an effective and efficient operation that is running like clock-work. Those of you that chant that "government can't do anything right", really need to eat some crow on this one, as it appears parking enforcement is a model operation.

Stop the greedy self-absorbed whining.

What is it $25, or $35. MP needs the money; whistle while you write the check and seal it with a Kiss!


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Well, Daveo, I gotta say - the parking enforcement in MP is not only aggressive, the personnel are often rude. I was ticketed for not having updated registration, which seems over & beyond their responsibility - rather Orwellian. Also, at a place that's a loading zone, they would wrongly ticket folks. I know this because I researched the law, how the sign should be worded & the people ticketed successfully fought the ticket. The Parking Nazis used to turn around in the middle of the street to follow me from lot to lot before I had a parking permit - it was truly bizarre. I understand that there has to be enforcement, but it should be polite & not insanely zealous.

I also agree that the MPPD, who do ticket a lot of vehicles in that area, could greatly increase revenue by pulling over even more. As a pedestrian, I was hit in downtown MP & I see near misses frequently. Also, places that serve a lot of alcohol, such as Carpaccio, would be a great place to snag drunk drivers.

Another thing I'd LOVE to see? That lame-o drivers who park w/their rear hanging in the driving lane of the parking lot, so as to avoid getting their front bumper hit. WTH is that about? It's way more dangerous for everyone to dodge those stupid cars whose owners are too selfish to park correctly. Now, I'd LOVE to see those cars ticketed. Maybe then they can finally afford to have some of those nasty lots fixed - they are hazardous to walk in at night.


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Posted by cha ching
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 3, 2011 at 8:34 pm

the nice older guy parking enforcer who would cut you some slack if you made nice with him about being just a bit over the 2 hr. limit, unfortunately for Menlo Park shoppers, retired.
Replaced by some [portion removed] gal who seems out to make her quota.
Just my $.02. Rojas could care less. There's no leadership in this town. Time for the Chamber of Commerce to have "come to Jesus" talk with default mayor cline, we could just call him "De-Cline" for short given the ever increasing retail vacancies downtown and on ECR. He's what you get when you have a vaccuum of leadership
LOL~


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 3, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Businesses fail all the time. It could be the store's selection of merchandise, prices, service, or decor... who knows?

But why not take the store owner's comments at face value? If she said some of her customers complained about the limited parking, why not accept it? We've heard this complaint before... if there is some truth to it, it would be nice to find out sooner than later.


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Posted by Dawn
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 4, 2011 at 11:15 am

Funny. I have a few preferred shops in downtown MP that I frequent because they sell reasonably priced goods that I like to purchase. Capitalism at its best. I have never managed to get a ticket for being over my two hour limit. Perhaps I've just never needed two hours to do my tour of shops. To whoever posted it - I did once get a ticket for sticking too far out - parking a car that was too long for its space. I sure miss that Toyota pickup with its excess of 300K miles, but it was just too long for parking spaces in MP. And on a side note - I for one think people label others as Nazis far too often in this world. It should be retired from use, IMHO. I'll put my soapbox box away for today.


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Posted by Menlo Shopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 4, 2011 at 11:55 am

Who "refuses to come downtown to shop?" I guess if your idea of "shopping" is to come into town at 8 am, have breakfast, and spend the rest of the day going in and out of stores, yeah, then you will have to park in a residential neighborhood outside downtown and walk a few blocks. But most of us come downtown to do a few errands (postoffice, drugstore, Trader Joe's, gift) and all that can be pretty easily accompllished in the two-hour timeframe. If parking times were longer, the spots would be taken by all-day shoppers (or employees!) and those of us running a quick errands would not have a place to park.

I go downtown all the time and I had never noticed or heard of this store. Maybe the real issue was that the store didn't have the kind of merchandise that appeals to residents, and instead of saying "your store depresses me," people instead gave the owners the benign excuse about parking.


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Posted by Miss Use
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I was parked in a 2 hour lot behind Walgreens for 45 minutes and came back to find a $90 ticket.I verified the two places that I visited re the time and still I got nowhere.The meter maids or whoever is responsible for this blatant misuse of"time" altering the tickets is part of the problem as well as the high rents.Menlo Park is a wonderful place and should not have the people who visit ripped off.


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Posted by Daveo
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Bingo! the magic word "Parking Nazis". Say no More!

This confirms my suspicion that it's not the law the bothers some types of people; it's getting caught when they break it.

In civilized societies you have enforcement; more urban areas have more mechanized and officious enforcement.

You can always choose to be pleasant to the parking officers. They might choose to be pleasant with you. But they shouldn't really be swayed to let you off, just for being pleasant.

If you want to get a personal pass when you're caught in violation, you may have to move to Mayberry.

I strongly second a previous opinion. I studied Nazis in history class; they don't exist anymore. ('cept maybe parts of Idaho).


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Posted by get a grip
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 4, 2011 at 2:02 pm

There is still plenty of 2 hour parking. It is simply untrue that all turned to 1 hour. And it's simply untrue that there is a shortage.
If people are willing to walk a block or two, there is plenty. That is far less distance than one would have to park in Palo Alto or almost anywhere else around.
I got a ticket once for taking too long over lunch but I learned from it. There is some personal accountability involved here


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardina
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 4, 2011 at 5:37 pm

I haven't seen last years numbers. But in previous years Menlo Park has written as many as 22,000 (twenty-two THOUSAND) parking tickets. that is in a town of less than 30,000 people.

In case you are wondering that is an ABSURD amount of tickets for this size city.

You have to wonder why we need all those high priced police officers (see the Daily Post story this morning about Menlo Park Salaries) with that kind of parking revenue no criminal can afford to stop here long enough to commit crimes....without getting a ticket.


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Posted by Rarely Shop MP because of parking
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2011 at 5:47 pm

For all the Nazi experts, and Nazi haters, we should remember that the Nazis had a lot of support in their time, as it appears the Meter Maids do on this thread.

Shawn Blackburn, owner of Vizions Artwear & Salon at 644 Santa Cruz Ave., said "Most business customers are there for about two hours, on pins and needles the whole time, and sometimes they don't make it in time," said Mr. Blackburn. "It's hard to get customers, hard to keep customers, keep them happy, and they're not happy when they spend $100 on their hair and then get a parking ticket."

If you are going to come into town, have breakfast at Stacks and maybe pop into one store briefly, you should have plenty of time. If you are not a senior citizen who has lost a step or two, or a parent with young kids, or a handicapped customer, or an injured shopper you should have no troubles at all with the two hour limit which is enforced with Gestapo efficiency.

If you are a shopper who likes enjoy the company of friends with a meal, or someone that likes to linger at the bookstore, or heaven forbid someone that has to visit more than a store or two than perhaps you should go elsewhere. And if you are a shop owner, in this case of Boutique 4, you should go elsewhere, which they are doing. Which amazingly seems to offend some folks that refuse to acknowledge that the current policy is bad for business.

Shop owners and common sense say customers should not be punished for coming downtown to shop. Shopping areas with rigorous parking enforcement do not thrive. There are just too many other alternatives in today's marketplace.

As I previously wrote, if there is nothing wrong with the 2 hour limit, then why does the city extend the hours during Christmas? Why not leave the extended Christmas hours for a year, and then review it. The only reason I can see for not doing that is the loss of ticket revenue to the city, which is a very short sighted view. You can bet that anyone that gets a ticket for shopping over 2 hours in Menlo Park, will not be returning in the near future if ever. This is bad for business, which is bad for stores, which is bad for Menlo Park.



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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 4, 2011 at 7:20 pm

It's clear to me that parking regulations and enforcement are revenue generators for the city. Why not just be honest about it and put in parking meters. They have them in many other cities. If you want more time you go feed the meter. People have a chance of avoiding expensive tickets that way and the city gets it's revenue. A win-win.


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Posted by Dawn
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I totally get the hair appointment problem. No way I'm in and out with my haircut in under two hours. What does San Carlos do? I don't think I run into problems in their public lot and they have a thriving downtown. Lets just do what they do or put in those credit card parking meters redwood city has.

I agree that if its just a revenue issue, let people pay for how much they want to use the parking lot rather than just live off the unlucky few (thousands) who get tickets. The good new seems be though that if they write 23,000 tickets a year in a town of 30,000 we are totally getting out of town shoppers. Woohoo.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Daveo, you don't get it. The times I was followed by the Parking Nazi, I wasn't doing anything wrong, so it was really weird. I was just moving my car legally from one lot to another, or to on street parking. The times I couldn't get away from the office, I literally paid the price, until we were able to get parking permits. I'm certainly not against parking enforcement, but I am against the personnel being total creeps by borderline harassing drivers who are also city customers and patrons of local businesses. I observed a fair amount of rudeness from the Parking Nazis, although I never actually spoke w/them myself that I recall.

Oh, yeah, there still are Nazis - besides the parking enforcement in Menlo & in other parts of the US, they're also in Europe.

There was a thread a few months back where a poster was physically followed in Draeger's and tried to dodge the Parking Nazi. It was both funny & bizarre.


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Posted by downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 5, 2011 at 12:25 am

Possible reasons for extending parking to 3 hrs at Christmas:

1) more purchases than other times of the year, due to gifts

2) restaurants are busier than normal with all the holiday lunches, consequently wervice is a lot slower than normal.

2 hour parking is fine. Get over it, hmmm. Palo Alto has 2 hour parking and that downtown is much bigger, with many more restaurants & shops.

I'm with those who think Boutique 4's closure is due to high rent & factors that have nothing to do with parking. Mt. View has a very cifferent daytime customer profile than Menlo does. There are huge apt. complexes, lots of restaurants & bars, a big library, a LightRail-CalTrain transit hub and no grocery stores. Ever notice that?

I don't miss Boutique 4. Never knew it was there. Whatever was in its windows didn't draw my attention. I do shop downtown Menlo a lot, as well as downtown Palo Alto & Los Altos. In & out in 2 hrs or less.


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Posted by Long time Menlo Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 5, 2011 at 11:46 am

Parking hasn't changed. The economy has changed much more than parking changes


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Posted by clothes horse
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Feb 6, 2011 at 9:45 am

never heard of this boutique until it announced that it was closing !! I shop in MP often & although parking is sometimes an issue, (not an excuse) walking is always good exercise


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 6, 2011 at 9:59 am

The bigger question is it more important for Menlo Park to be friendly to its businesses (support them, make it easy to shop, encourage visitors, etc.) or more important to augment city revenues by issuing nuisance parking tickets.

There's no right or wrong answer. It's a political decision that reflects the city's attitude.


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Posted by Menlo Shopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 6, 2011 at 10:17 am

POGO, that either/or suggests there are only two possibilities. Does it occur to you that the city supports businesses by issuing tickets? If the parking limits were not enforced, the spaces would fill early in the day and anyone coming into town at noon to run errands would have a hard time finding a space. It is in the businesses' best interests for the city to make sure that the spaces turn over so that new shoppers can find parking.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2011 at 10:28 am

Menlo Shopper states:"It is in the businesses' best interests for the city to make sure that the spaces turn over so that new shoppers can find parking."

The key issues here is the length of the allowed parking and the 'mission' of the parking enforcement officers.

If the parking length it is 15 minutes then you get a very different type of shopper than if it is three hours. And if it is all day then you would probably drive out the short term parkers with the all day parkers. The City needs to be innovative on the timing issue. Why not make some lots 3 hours, keep the others at 2 hours and keep the side streets one hour and then see what happens?

The City also needs to make sure that the 'mission' for the parking enforcement officers is clear. If the parking enforcement officers mission is to maximize revenues they will behave very differently then if their mission is to facilitate the best use of the parking spaces and to assist shoppers. Don't blame the parking enforcement officers for doing what they are told to do.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 6, 2011 at 10:35 am

The city council voted to change parking last year. 3 and 2 and 1 hour parking. Just read a little. Sheesh. And if I recall, all the old timer shop owners complained again.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2011 at 11:42 am

"The city council voted to change parking last year. 3 and 2 and 1 hour parking."

1 - are the different areas clearly marked?

2 - has the city collected turnover data for the different time period parking areas?

3 - what are the results?

Innovation and experiments without data are useless.


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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Feb 6, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Roll out is expected now -- I think even last month. This was a major topic for us in Menlo Park and we all had a chance to voice our concerns and support. [Portion deleted. Please discuss topic, don't attack other posters.]

Web Link

C'mon.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm

How about you c'mon truth? In your post of Feb 3rd you weren't even aware it had been changed. Now you act like you knew all along. Spare us your vitriol.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2011 at 2:08 pm

One person's mundane questions are the intelligent person's truth.
If you don't measure something then you cannot manage it.

How about transferring the parking enforcement officers to the business development office? That might give a clearer mission statement.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Another interesting data point would be a monthly listing of how many of the full day ($10) and half day ($5) Temporary Parking permits have been purchased by business to use for either their employees or their customers.

Even if offered at the business' cost it would be a much better deal than a parking ticket. These temporary parking permits would also be a great way for a business to show appreciate for some of their best customers.


Has any customer ever been offered such a permit by a business with whom they were doing multi-hour business?


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Posted by Will
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Great job council on welcoming another chain store operation into Menlo. Even if it is a franchise. Are the franchisees locals? I don't think so. So maybe Boutique 4 wasn't a viable enterprise and went under for a number of other reasons and just maybe the parking issue was one of the parts of the equation. Either way, couldn't we (the council i mean) be a little choosier on who we have come in to pay the exorbitant rents! Just wondering.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2011 at 1:00 pm

The parking problem - it's not the number of parking spots - it'speople complaining about getting tickets for parking over the limit.
And it's all the fault of those pesky cell phones. Fewer and fewer people wear watches, so that easy flick of a wrist to see the time is unavailable to most folks.
Shoppers and diners are too lazy to search through their purses or reach into a pocket to look at the time. And they're not smart enough to figure out how to set the alarm on the cell phone to tell them when their time is up.
Stop griping folks and buy a cheap watch.


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Posted by downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 7, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Think about which lots are most congested & which businesses they serve. The lot behind Walgreens serves Left Bank, Vida, SuHong, UnaMas & Starbucks as well as the Mex. restaurant on Doyle, Menlo Ave & Doyle salons, the 600-698 Menlo Ave offices, & TJ & B of A overflow. The lot behind 800-898 Santa Cruz fills at the Crane St end & usually has empty spaces about halfway to University.

Really, how long does it take to walk an extra half block to the next lot? Businesses with more than a certain # of employees should have to provide parking permits for them as part of compensation. Keep street parking 1 hr with permits for longer use available to residents of side streets, with proof of address.

If the new Subway proprietor is able & willing to pay the requested rent, welcome him. Would you rather have an empty shop? It will ease lunchtime crowding (& leave more shopping time) to have another place to grab a quick bite. Nice option too for the downtown workers who're on a timed break & a budget.


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Posted by peninsula shopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 7, 2011 at 4:40 pm

As I shop both in downtown Menlo Park and downtown Burlingame (both Burlingame Ave.area and Broadway), it seems to me that this parking issue is something of a red herring. The parking in both downtown Burlingame streets is not very much different from that available in downtown Menlo Park with respect to length of stay in a parking spot, with the obvious exception of the Burlingame parking meters. Having a two hour limit and having to pay for parking has not seemed to hurt the downtown businesses in Burlingame. Perhaps competition from other stores on Santa Cruz Ave. was more of a factor in this boutique's closing.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 7, 2011 at 4:57 pm

downtowner asks: "Would you rather have an empty shop?"

I'm not sure we want to know that answer.


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Posted by Rarely Shop MP because of parking
a resident of another community
on Feb 8, 2011 at 9:24 am

The store owners have clearly stated that they are leaving because of the business conditions in downtown Menlo Park and the "extremely aggressive parking enforcement".

The truthers and Holocaust deniers are free to express their opinions in this country. The parking policy supporters have been equally free to denigrate the business and cast doubt on the owners reasons for leaving.

But pesky facts keep getting in the way.

The owners have been here for 5 years. They are experienced retailers. This was not a new store. They own another store in Mountain View (which is very useful for comparison purposes). The store in Menlo Park was a Readers Choice award winner for its category last year.

Many customers, myself included, have stated on this thread that the Gestapo tactics of the Parking Police were deterring them from shopping Menlo Park. The owners of this Boutique agree that the shopping area is not customer friendly and they are voting with their feet, just like potential customers and ticketed customers have been doing.

I don't know whether it is sad or hilarious that so many people remain unconvinced that the parking policies and enforcement in downtown MENLO PARK are anti-business. I guess they are taking their cue from the top, where our current administration and the Big O are scratching their heads at this economic debacle and wondering how they got a reputation for being "anti-business". You reap what you sow. Welcome Subway, here's hoping for a Burger King there in the near future.


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Posted by Menlo Shopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2011 at 10:59 am

The "pesky facts" are that many of us have lived and shopped in Menlo Park for years without any problems at all. I don't care who is broadcasting what propaganda -- I have never gotten a ticket, and it sounds as though most of us who patronize downtown stores have had similarly unblemished experiences. Parking in Menlo Park is infinitely easier than parking in Palo Alto or Mountain View, where I often will have to drive around for blocks trying to find a space. I don't recall that ever happening downtown.

At one time or another, I've visited just about every store on Santa Cruz and on the side streets. I honestly don't ever remember even seeing this particular store. Reading the reviews for it on Yelp, it sounds like a place where I'd like to shop. Maybe they didn't do a very good job promoting their business or merchandising their products? Maybe they should have taken a lesson from their neighbor Sugar Shack -- everyone knows that store. You've got to have more than good products/service to survive in retail -- you have to reach out to your customers.


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Posted by Patty
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2011 at 11:31 am

The aggressive issuing of parking tickets in Menlo Park has had me heading to Palo Alto for years, particularly for things like hair styling services where they have provided parking to attract customers, shopping and spending money for vendor services. It takes more than 2 hours to have my hair cut and colored,in Menlo Park that would be an automatic parking ticket, so I go to Palo Alto and while I am there I usually shop and dine, all without ever having to think about moving my parked car to avoid a parking ticket.


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Posted by downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Y'all complain about parking tickets, but I'm there very frequently & get a ticket maybe once every 4 years. My hair appts take less than 2 hrs. Parking is much easier here than in Palo Alto or Los Altos. San Mateo, Burlingame, & Redwood City all have meters & paid lots. I get ticketed in San Mateo about every 5th visit.

Where are these aggressive meter cops? I don't see them. I wish there were aggressive U-turn cops patrolling Santa Cruz Ave who'd also get the stop sign runners at Doyle. Also wish big SUVs would pull all the way to the curb on S Cruz because it's tough to see around those monsters & back out into traffic.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2011 at 12:47 pm

downtowner
uturns are legal at intersections unless posted otherwise. If MPPD would start giving tickets for non-use of turn signals the city could make some real money. While there at it they could make some additional bucks by ticketing al the cars with illegal tints on their windows.


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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Steve re sales tax revenues from Subway.
Sorry to disappoint but only the hot or toasted sandwiches at Subway are taxable. Cold ones are tax free.
As to the general parking discussion - I've been parking in downtown MP for 40 years and in all that time got one parking ticket - went in for a root canal on Oak Grove and like an idiot didn't pay attention to the one hour limit. My fault - who gets a root canal in less than an hour.


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Posted by downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 8, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Thanks, Bob. Didn't know that. What I see are 3-pointers at 3 way, or T shaped intersections because cars can't make the turn in a smooth U. Some of these drivers cause minor mayhem with their timing & for pedestrians when they back into crosswalks to complete the turns.


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Posted by Homer Boucher
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Feb 8, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Never knew Boutique 4.
Couldn't find parking.
That should sum it up.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 9, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I think the issue does have a lot to do w/how willing people are to walk to their destination & how long they plan to be there. For a long appointment or series of appointments, it's a hassle, as is debarking w/the elderly or disabled. Some of the biggest parking scofflaws I've seen are on Crane, double parking in front of the drycleaner because Heaven forbid they walk a half block with their clean laundry.

When I'm there for just a few hours, parking downtown isn't that bad, unless it's a specifically high traffic time, such as lunch. The issue then has less to do w/finding parking then it does *negotiating* driving & parking through the lousy lots, bad drivers & people who park horrendously, as I mentioned in a previous post. When I received a lot of tickets, it was in large part due to construction going on so that all day parking on the outskirts was greatly reduced and even arriving well before 8:00am didn't do the trick. It was truly awful because it was winter, bad weather, got dark early & I really didn't feel safe walking far to my car alone at night, being female. My lucky coworker who took the train enjoyed the experience and working downtown - fewer homeless than in PA, way fewer creeps & she felt safe walking to & from the train. There is a lot of good in downtown & I will continue to frequent it as much as possible. Even though I'm closer to PA shopping, it's really nice to spend $$ in my own county & former hometown.

I do wish Menlo had more of a variety of shops & businesses, though. It'd be nice, imo, if it was a tad more downtown Mt. Viewish, which would require a lot of Asian-oriented businesses moving in - more Asian food in MP is not a bad idea. But I'll always remember the days when we could eavesdrop on the conversations of FBI men when we were kids...oh, & I know the Parking Nazi knows my vehicle - he still follows me when he sees me.

I truly don't mind walking as long as I have my sturdy shopping bags w/me & don't get more gray hair negotiating some of the horrible parking lots. Then, I'd have to get more hair color touch ups, but at least I drive to San Carlos for that!


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Posted by Colleen
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm

THIS EMAIL WAS SENT TO MENLO PARK CITY COUNCIL.
I run a social group in Atherton called the Atherton Awristachatz. I am sorry to say we will no longer be holding our lunches in Menlo Park due to the parking problem. One of the times we had a lunch in Menlo Park and a number of our members ended up with parking tickets. That's a shame, but I can't due anything about it. Sorry I hope you look at making the parking 3 hours vs 2 hours. You are costing stores a lot of business. The good news is your helping other towns promote there businesses. We would have never gone to Thaibodia if it weren't for the parking in Menlo. I owe you a big thank you, because I love the food.
Colleen

Begin forwarded message:

From: Colleen Anderson
Date: February 11, 2011 12:27:06 PM PST
To: Atherton lunch
Subject: [awristachatz] Putting together a lunch

Putting together another girls
lunch.
The place will be:
Thaibodia
910 Woodside Road
Redwood City, CA 94061
(650) 365-2288
thaibodia.com
Check out the website above

The food is so good here. I was very surprised when I went there with
a group of girl friends. We will not be having lunches in Menlo Park
due to the limited parking time. It's a shame because I love a number
of restaurants in town.

Colleen


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Posted by Colleen
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Just heard back from Kirsten Keith man is she on top of things. She urged everyone to send in emails about how they feel about the parking. I think this is something Menlo Park wants to look at. Here is the email to send your feedback. city.council@menlopark.org


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Posted by Howard D.
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 13, 2011 at 11:28 am

This thread tells you something about the level of entitlement in this area. It would never occur to me to complain about the police actually enforcing the parking regulations. If you stay longer than 2 hours and get a ticket, it shouldn't matter if it was 5 minutes or 50 minutes over- stop complaining and pay up.

On the "2 hours versus 3 hours" question, Colleen and others should know that the Council last year DID approve a modest set of changes that would allow some lots to be used for longer parking. You'll have to pay for the amount over 2 hours, but it should be reasonably priced. I think the delay in implementation has been to get past the holiday season and to decide whether the technology would be pay-by-space or individual meters or whatever. I know that change got Pat White upset (what else is new), but all things considered it seems pretty common sense.


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Posted by Parking?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 14, 2011 at 12:06 pm

My wife and I did a very informal survey last Thursday night. We were dining in Palo Alto, because they have much more variety with their restaurant choices. I asked my wife, "wouldn't it be nice if MP had a little more variety, or at least a few more choices where we could dine?" Neither one of us want huge commercial spaces being built etc., we'd just like a more vibrant downtown. So, we decided to drive smack down the middle of University and count the empty stores in Palo Alto, total tally: 1.(this was done from Apple Store toward El Camino Real). Then we took a count in MP, from ECR down Santa Cruz to the Menlo Presbyterian Church, total tally: 13. 13!!!! In a downtown area 1/2 the size of Palo Alto! This is sad, very, very sad for us. This means no tax revenue, depleted services, etc. There are a few reasons for this, as stated above, however PARKING is #1. If there was additional, premier parking available, we wouldn't have landlord problems etc. If you build it, they will come, period. Again, my wife and I would not want huge commercial spaces being redeveloped, but until we as citizens can objectively discuss an additional parking space/garage, in our community, all of the other downtown visionary stuff, is just stuff. There is NOTHING wrong with a nice looking, hidden, tree lined, vine lined, plant lined, 3 story-1 underground, parking lot. I honestly believe this would solve most of our problems, with the downtown. Period.


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Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 14, 2011 at 12:42 pm

So "Parking?"

You work or attend the church right? This is the only entity that desires a parking garage. Funny how the garage is to be put at "the end" of the santa cruz shopping area, and not the middle.

The church wants to build a huge "performing arts" center on University and Santa Cruz.

Parking did not cause this store to close, the simple realities of running a business did.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Colleen, is your group that got tickets the same group that Mrs. Baciocco was part of? She wrote a letter when she & others in her group in MP got parking tickets for overstaying.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Note that any business that wants to can buy half day ($5) and full day ($10) parking passes and give or sell them to their customers.

Why not ask the places you go to for long lunches to extend you this courtesy?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Feb 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Peter, I agree. We did so at the business I used to manage in downtown MP. But of course, that would mean people have to get the pass, fill it out & put it on their car, then return to the restaurant. This is likely to be way too taxing for some, so they'll pay the tax of overstaying their parking time.


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Posted by Parking?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm

"new guy", nope I do not work nor do I care about what Menlo Presbyterian wants or is concerned about with respect to parking. Bottomline, we need it, the stores complain about it, the shoppers complain about it, it's an issue. 13 versus 1 vacant store tells me a lot about our town, and this is the issue that keeps popping up. "simple realities to running a business' tells me, the business man, that my patrons can't find a parking spot to do business with me!


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Parking:

the problem is parking. It is also paying for a garage. The citizens don't want to pay for it and none of the downtown property owners want to pay for it. We went through this back in the late 90's early 2000's when they wanted to shove a parking garage with low income housing above down our throats. Bottom line is if the downtown merchants really want more parking they are going to have to pay for it or the citizens of Menlo Park are going to have to step up and pay for it. Parking garages cost money.


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Posted by Spanky
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Feb 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm

I got an idea. Take your business elsewhere.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 15, 2011 at 8:56 pm

Spanky -

Judging from the number of vacant store fronts, I suspect it's already happening.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 16, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I shop Menlo several times each week. Parking is not a problem. The stores, for the most part, are hardly empty. There are "Lots of Lots" to choose from when you park.

This discussion IS a problem however. The rhetoric is outrageous and irrational. For example, "For all the Nazi experts, and Nazi haters, we should remember that the Nazis had a lot of support in their time, as it appears the Meter Maids do on this thread."

Stop throwing around the epithet "Nazi" -- And, if you think parking is difficult in Menlo Park, take a little trip to SF or LA or Santa Monica or Berkeley or almost anywhere.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Feb 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

One thing is clear. There seem to be a lot of empty store fronts.

Could be the economy. Could be bad retailing. Could be parking. Could be all three.


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Posted by Colleen Anderson
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 18, 2011 at 10:42 am

Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community, on Feb 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Colleen, is your group that got tickets the same group that Mrs. Baciocco was part of? She wrote a letter when she & others in her group in MP got parking tickets for overstaying.

No Hmmmm. It is a different group. Good to know other groups are trying to change things. Also good to know we are not the only group going some where else. I love downtown Menlo, but until things change we need to go some where else for lunch, our hair, etc. I think with enough people getting involved, and taking the time to write the city things will change, and we can support Menlo Park again.
One girlfriend told me she dropped off a script at Walgreens in Menlo Park, went home for 3 hours then went back to have lunch at Del Sol & got a ticket, because she parked in the same lot. She now eats in other cities. Again we all love and want to support Menlo Park. Please write to the city. I posted the link to email


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