By Steve Levy
Letter to Council: Focus Directly on Traffic and Parking; Development Limit not most effective approachUploaded: Feb 6, 2015
My first understanding from personal experience and city studies is that most increases in traffic and parking have come from more intensive use of existing space including offices, retail stores such as the Apple store, and eating and drinking establishments that seem to be thriving. Our personal experience is that twice in the last three years, CCSCE has moved locations downtown as technology firms including Palantir have bought out our space. In both cases the density of use increased dramatically in the space we previously occupied. Both landlords were extremely gracious and I am pleased to see the growing innovative businesses and workers who now occupy our space.
My second understanding from following the discussions in Palo Alto is that residents have legitimate concerns about the recent increases in traffic and parking challenges. In response the city has and is undertaking a number of initiatives directly focused on reducing car travel and associated parking need.
I believe that the ratio of parking needed per employee is subject to the alternatives we provide, incentives and parking costs and regional efforts such as expanding CalTrain and other public and private commute options.
I also find that the Council agenda is full this year with the Comp Plan and other important issues and that staff has many issues on their plate at the same time we have losses in planning staff.
As a result I believe the more effective use of Council and staff time is to work on solutions that will reduce parking and traffic from existing uses and the increases in density of existing uses that will continue. I think the time and staff effort involved in developing annual growth limitations and the legal limits to these efforts suggest that focusing directly on traffic and parking need directly will be the most effective approach for the city and meet the desires of residents to reduce the transportation impacts of development.