Posted by Hollis, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 12:17 pm
Actually, that was a typo. I got the second notice from the City of Menlo Park - not the DMV - who said THEY'D be alerting DMV if I didn't pay. As I have a clean DMV record and didn't want it adversely affected I paid it; however, I sent a detailed letter explaining what happened to the City of Menlo Park, and they essentially said "too bad because we gave you a courtesty notice", which I never got.
Just Wondering -
I moved here to be closer to work.
Menlo Park is a lovely city, but the ban on overnight parking because it looks bad seems a bit elitist. I apologize if that offends.
Posted by Gern Blanston, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 12:32 pm
I wholeheartedly support the ban on unrestricted overnight street parking in Menlo Park -- our neighborhoods look so much the better for it. Merely comparing Linfield Oaks with Palo Alto North (across the creek) makes this abundantly clear. Palo Alto Avenue seems to play overnight host to a large number of people who live in their cars, and, selfishly or otherwise, I'd be more than a little concerned if someone were sleeping in his/her automobile right outside my home. Perhaps these people are unaware that the Palo Alto libraries seem to allow people -- tacitly, I'm guessing -- to park (and sleep) in their lots overnight.
Posted by Hollis, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 12:40 pm
Mr./Ms. Blanston -
From a security/safety standpoint I concede your point - it's a nice perk if one can get it and, apparently, Menlo Park can.
My issue, selfishly or otherwise, is the lack of communication on the part of the city that this restriction is in place. I got ticketed because of a lack of communication on their part. That does not seem just to me, but the life isn't always just, I guess.
Posted by Gern Blanston, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 12:55 pm
I understand your frustration if you were taken by surprise by the ordinance that resulted in your ticket, especially if you didn't receive a warning for a first infraction. One could suppose that the paucity or complete lack or other vehicles parked on your street at night might have been the tipper, but perhaps you're an early-to-bed person. And if you moved to an apartment or other rental situation your landlord should have made you aware of the ordinance, of course (as a courtesy, if nothing more).
Posted by Hollis, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 1:36 pm
I appreciate your understanding, Gern - thank you.
Yes, I'm an early to bed person, and I think it's because there are these types of extenuating circumstances that can lend to a misunderstanding - for me, or for a visitor to the area - that street signs would ensure there was no room for misunderstanding.
Posted by Tom, a resident of another community, on Jun 24, 2009 at 2:38 pm
Yeh, nothing makes a street look uglier than to have cars on it. Much better looking if they're all empty. Just like a tree-lined park--keep those kids and their pets out, they make it look ugly. The lady was right---very Menlo Park!
Posted by Gern Blanston, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 3:41 pm
Tom bleated: "Yeh, nothing makes a street look uglier than to have cars on it. Much better looking if they're all empty. Just like a tree-lined park--keep those kids and their pets out, they make it look ugly. The lady was right---very Menlo Park!"
Menlo Park does, of course, allow on-street parking during the day, but one of the benefits of not allowing overnight parking on our streets is that we don't have automobiles (nice ones and junkers both) lining those streets for weeks at a time (often in the same spots). That means fewer cars blocking bike lanes, where our kids ride their bikes, and fewer cars parked at intersections, making those intersections safer. We also don't have people sleeping in their cars overnight on our streets, or if we do, they do so in far fewer numbers than I see in Palo Alto every day. If any of this impinges on your civil rights please feel free to take it up with the ACLU, Tom; otherwise, I can't imagine why you're at all interested.
Posted by Donald, a resident of another community, on Jun 24, 2009 at 4:14 pm
This ordinance has been in place for decades. It is the subject of debate every now and then, but based on its longevity it seems to have a lot of support. Hollis says it "seems a bit elitist". Absolutely, and most residents are proud of that.
Posted by Gern Blanston, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 4:43 pm
"Elitist?" In what way? The law applies to everyone in Menlo Park, equally. Hollis and Donald, are you making the assumption that some underprivileged class in Menlo Park (or outside the city) is unfairly burdened by this law because they don't have access to adequate parking? Can you cite specific examples? And, Hollis, why is it that you were parking in the street overnight? Does your home/apartment not offer adequate parking?
I like the ordinance for the straightforward reason that it keeps our streets safer, cleaner, and more attractive (that's just my opinion, of course). If that's "elitist" thinking then I -- who inhabit a modest, 55-year-old, 1,500 square foot ranch home, as do most of my neighbors -- clearly need to brush up on my PC vernacular.
Posted by just wondering, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 5:22 pm
I had never heard that the overnight ban was imposed because of a desire to beautify the city (really? in the middle of the night?) though in general I think that most residents -- at least those who plan to live here for a while -- want to keep our city looking reasonably attractive.
The primary justification for the ban is to increase public safety. Gern already mentioned a few ways that the ban makes our city safer. In addition, having the ban means that people generally can't throw big parties that last all night. And the lack of cars on the streets gives the trash/recycling trucks plenty of room to maneuver.
As for the suggestion of putting signs on every street: I am so glad to hear it's not necessary. Not only would it be expensive, but it would junk up the streets.
Hollis, you seem to have a lot of energy. Maybe you can find a way to make a positive contribution to the community instead of wasting your time contesting a $45 ticket that you deserved!
Posted by Joan, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 5:54 pm
Just wondering, you can disagree without getting snarky. Hollis is applying her energy to something she believes is constructive: trying to prevent others from getting a rude surprise on their windshields. Read her story. She wasn't informed of the parking restrictions by her landlord, and she parked on the street because her parking spot was blocked by another vehicle. Cut the holier-than-thou-little-lady crap already.
Posted by Gern Blanston, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 10:07 pm
Smells Like Simpleton threw down the gauntlet (without first checking Google him/herself):
"And here's a challenge to Gern/other elitists out there: Name me one other town out there with such a law in place (other than some 'exclusive' town like Atherton)."
So, yes, a quick Google search for overnight parking ordinances turned up Escondido, CA, as the first hit. Apparently that city banned unrestricted overnight parking to address one of the concerns cited above: too many cars parked more or less permanently on city streets. Now, I've been through Escondido, and it would require a miracle or rhetoric to convince anyone that that city is also "elitist."
The people who bandy about the term "elitist" in this thread either do not know its meaning or are simply falling back on inflammatory labels because they cannot support their position in any other way (if, indeed, they hold a position on the issue and aren't merely trolls). If Menlo Park's overnight parking ordinance targeted one group of motorists (non-residents, say), then "unfair" might be an appropriate characterization, but "elitist" would still be a stretch.
As things stand, the ordinance applies to all motorists -- Menlo Park residents and non-residents, alike, as Hollis now knows -- so there's absolutely no basis for labeling Menlo Park elitist based on this one simple law. There are those who will take any opportunity to so label some peninsula cities, however, and they are best ignored.
Posted by Gern Blanston, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jun 24, 2009 at 10:49 pm
@reader: Thanks for the clarification -- I thought "Just Wondering" was alluding to my earlier comments in the thread, but I guess it's clear s/he had the original article in mind.
It should also be clear that keeping parked cars off the streets between 2am - 5am brings with it the added effect of fewer parked cars on the streets around the clock, and people are free to argue whether that in turn benefits the city aesthetically or in terms of safety (I obviously feel it does on both counts).
Posted by Hollis, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2009 at 7:57 am
For what it's worth, I'm not spitting out the word "elitist" with contempt (in this instance =D) - it's a calm observation and my opinion on the matter. If others don't agree, again, that's their prerogative. Also, as I said, I can see for safety and congestion reasons why the rule would be in play - even if it does seem a little fluffy (is fluffy less inflammatory?). My issue is the lack of communication to people who wouldn't otherwise know these restrictions are in place.
If you went to a restaurant for dinner and ordered chicken and white wine and figured the bill with gratuity would be around $40, and the waitress presented you with a $140 check, and you inquired about it and were told by the waitress that the restaurant adds a 250% gratuity onto the bill and most people who go to the restaurant already know that, and you countered that with "but I've never been here and nobody told me", and she in turn said "well that's the way it is - sorry", and you countered again with "why not post a sign to communicate that to people" and she balked, you'd ask to speak to the manager, I'd wager.
Perhaps not the STRONGEST analogy ever, but pre-caffeine it's the best I can do this a.m. And I don't want to fight with people. The bottom line for me is this: If you have restrictions in place and don't communicate these restrictions clearly, you're setting people up to fail. Period.
Also, they might want to review the person who did my paperwork (courtesy citations, et al.) because I never got anything in the mail, so there's another fail.
Posted by Frank, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2009 at 12:17 pm
"Hollis and Donald, are you making the assumption that some underprivileged class in Menlo Park (or outside the city) is unfairly burdened by this law because they don't have access to adequate parking? Can you cite specific examples?"
Yes: Young, single people who would like to share a house with several roommates. (Or, for that matter, their parents.) I am a postdoc at Stanford and my first choice was to pursue this option. But it became apparent that this would be difficult or impossible to do in Menlo Park: at many places, there would be nowhere to legally park my car.
For the most part, it is not people who live in Menlo Park who are inconvenienced by this policy. (Although I do know several people who share housing and a driveway here, and if one of them has to leave, he/she has to bug all his/her roommates, etc.) The policy, for the most part, pushes my demographic into the surrounding towns. And the cynic in me wonders if that is in fact the real point.
Posted by Gern Blanston, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2009 at 1:10 pm
@Frank: Yes, if three, four, or five individuals rent what is presumably a "single-family" home, one with room for, say, two cars in the driveway and two cars in the garage and, further, the garage is used instead for storage or as an additional bedroom then, yes, those residents have wittingly placed themselves in a tough spot if each owns a car.
@Hollis: Combine the notion that "ignorance of the law is not a defense" with the fact that your landlord failed to apprise you of the ordinance and your neighbor blocked access to your off-street parking spot, and it would seem you'd be better off taking the $45 citation up with your landlord or neighbor. I wish you well, whatever the outcome.
Posted by Jack, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Jun 25, 2009 at 3:02 pm
I've lived in MP for almost 5 years, I have adequate off-street parking, and I think the overnight parking ban in pointless. But perhaps that's because I was born and raised in a charming, crime-free neighborhood in Redwood City where cars could stay on the street all night.
If you ask me, it's the school district, not the lack of cars on the streets during the wee hours that keeps Menlo Park's property values high.
Posted by parent, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2009 at 8:02 am
I know that the police DO patrol neighborhood streets at night because we have watched our son get a warning and then a ticket when he has forgotten to move his car onto the driveway at night.
At least Menlo Park allows parking on almost all streets during the day. Some communities limit parking at anytime to residents who have to show a parking permit on their car. Stanford and parts of San Francisco are examples.
Posted by just wondering, a resident of the Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2009 at 10:26 am
We have rarely left cars on the street overnight, usually because the kids wanted to use the driveway/garage for some game and we forgot to put the cars back in.
Almost every time, we have gotten either a warning or a ticket.
The elitist barbs are about as compelling and meaningful as the frequent references to koolaid on this board. It's not as if Menlo Park were legislating what sort of cars people could drive (or park). Your Ferrari or Rolls is going to get a ticket if it's on the street overnight, and so will your Neon or Fiero. Now, discriminating among cars would be elitist, but our ticketing system is totally populist.
Posted by Menlo Park Resident, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2009 at 12:27 pm
When we moved into Menlo Park many many years ago, we were very busy with young children and often forgetful. We had more than our share of warnings and tickets as a result of parking one or both of our cars on the street overnight. Over time we have gotten used to the system.
I do not know the origin, but I can imagine how nice it is for our police department to patrol our streets at night and be able to quickly identify cars that are parked on the street at night as a potential problem. They then can check the license and put warning notes or ticket on their windshields. The ordinance provides a measure of safety. The result is that we get the cars off of the street.
Our parked cars belong in our garages and on our driveways and not on the streets to block views of bicycles, kids and trees.
The side benefit is that our police officers get more exercise getting in and out of their patrol cars.
Pay the ticket and remember to park in your driveway or move to Redwood City or Palo Alto.
Posted by Gern Blanston, a resident of the Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2009 at 4:28 pm
Rob implored: "I'd love to know what sort of nefarious crimes have been prevented because a car couldn't park on the street between the hours of 2-5 a.m."
Which makes no more sense than: "I'd love to know what sort of lives haven't been lived because some people weren't born." Bone up on basic logic and grammar before making such ridiculous statements.
And there was also: "I have yet to hear anyone come up with an argument in favor of the overnight parking ban that makes the slightest bit of sense to me."
Half a dozen reasonable arguments may be found in the thread above. Failing the energy or interest to look for them, why not offer reasons in favor of rescinding the ordinance? Two that have been mentioned are convenience to you and your guests (temporary permits are available if the need is great), and an end to the occasional unjust citation. Anything more compelling?
Posted by parent, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jun 26, 2009 at 5:05 pm
Here are a few reasons a ban on overnight parking is good:
1. it is easier for the police to patrol neighborhoods because it's easier to see homes and properties
2. it is easier for the police to find bad guys
3. it is harder for bad guys to hide what they are doing
4. it serves as one way to enforce zoning. For example - single family homes are less likely to become multifamily homes (while still allowing unrelated renters to inhabit homes) because there is a limit of how many cars can fit in garage, parking or driveway
5. it is less likely that those same cars will be parked on the sidewalks or in the street during the day. Many of our neighborhoods do not have sidewalks and do not have wide enough streets for 2-way traffic and pedestrians or bikers to co-exist safely. Minimizing on-street parking really helps.
Posted by Mary, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Jun 29, 2009 at 9:34 pm
So you buy a house for $1.5 million and can't park on the street because someone thinks it looks ugly. Never mind that cars on the street would help reduce the serious speeding problem we have in our neighborhood.
Note that you can park a basketball hoop on the sidewalk, blocking everyone's access, for years. Presumably no one thinks that is ugly ... or dangerous
Posted by Ticketed!!, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2009 at 12:20 am
Yes, this restriction discriminates against the renters in this town. I've lived here for almost 10 years, and only suffered 1 ticket, but it's been a pain in the you know where since I used to visit my boyfriend, now husband in his shanty that only had one parking spot. Many rentals only have 1 spot per apt, and nothing for guests. The concept of running over to the police dept to pay $2 each for overnight parking passes is fairly annoying and time consuming. And now that we're married with kids, still in MP, we still have parking overload with guests every month or two and find the fact we can't park in front of our own property without scrambling for parking passes totally annoying. Fine, I'm happy to keep the homeless from sleeping outside my front door, but there must be a better way.
Posted by MS, a resident of the Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2009 at 9:08 am
I have received a ticket for my car parked overnight parallel in my property line, but I wholeheartedly support the ban. I bought my house for a lot of money, and the reason I did that and moved to Menlo Park was because of it's looks, safety, schools, and other qualities. I moved from another city where the cars (old and new, ugly and pretty, RVs, boats, etc.) were always parked in the streets. People parked cars in front of our house that didn't belong to us. It was not a pretty scene; and, among many other reasons, that's why the property values are much less than Menlo Park.
I do not support and appreciate that the city and police discriminate, because cars parked in streets overnight in the Willows, Menlo Oaks, Belle Haven, and some other neighborhoods don't receive tickets.
Posted by Chuck Kinney, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jun 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm
When I held "Meet the Mayor" meetings once per month I had several people who attended that had similar parking problems. A call to the police department explaining the circumstances, in the case of your story, a car parked in front of the lady's garage prevented her from parking off stree and with no prior such tickets, it seems would carry the day and the tickets should and were dismissed. At least it did when a call was made for the ticketed residents to our police department.
Posted by afsfdsf, a resident of the Menlo Park: Sharon Heights neighborhood, on Jul 1, 2009 at 12:19 pm
It is elitist not because cars are discriminated but because it favors people with enough money to have a home. Some of us homeless people would like to live in menlo park too but the elitist policy makes it so difficult. Also, it favors families with large garages who share a car instead of people who share a place with many roommates and have different cars.
Posted by Robert, a resident of the Menlo Park: The Willows neighborhood, on Jul 1, 2009 at 5:00 pm
When I moved here, my landlord didn't tell me about this ordinance either. I think he just assumed that I knew. It came as a complete surprise to me when I got a warning from the Menlo Park Police on my windshield.
Now that I know about it and know what to do, I have no problem with it.
I do think that the City of Menlo Park could do a better job posting signs and making it more generally known that there is no overhight parking so it's not a total surprise to people - like it was with me.
Posted by To Hollis, a resident of another community, on Jul 3, 2009 at 12:14 am
When I worked in downtown MP, our company had several clients receive parking tickets erroneously. Trying to get some clarity on some of the laws was difficult for the clients. I grew up in MP, so I knew a fair amount about the overnight restrictions. I won't bore you w/the details of the clients' downtown tickets, but they received only the runaround from the city. I witnessed a couple of parking incidents which were clearly wrong.
I also wonder, whenever I have to park in one of the lousy lots downtown, why the idiots who park w/their back ends sticking way into the driving lane don't get ticketed? I've never seen it, if they do, & I am there a lot. The "Parking Nazis," as we called them, are very fallible. So are some of the other city workers, so I am not surprised you never received a courtesy notice.