Motorists -- potential customers, actually -- have been seen driving away from downtown Woodside after not finding a place to park, according to members of the town's retail business community who are asking the town to create a parking exemption on Woodside Road during lunchtime hours.
"They make two or three circuits (of the full parking lot) and leave and don't come back," Jamis MacNiven, the owner of Buck's of Woodside restaurant, told the Town Council at its Tuesday, Nov. 9, meeting.
With Mr. MacNiven were Roberts Market owner George Roberts and several other retailers who do business at the corner of Canada and Woodside roads.
No-parking signs have been up along Woodside Road west of the intersection since September. The signs, along with more on-campus parking at Woodside Elementary School, seem to have ended an endemic 10 to 15 minutes of stop-and-go crawl that occurred twice a day as parents arrived at the school to drop off and pick up their kids.
The California Department of Transportation has jurisdiction over Woodside Road. The town, which erected the signs at Caltrans' behest, did so in anticipation of feedback. A Sept. 10 letter to Town Manager Susan George provided some.
"We merchants ... would like the town to consider helping us with the lunch parking by exempting the no-parking restriction between 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. seven days of the week," the letter said.
The town has some discretion in making exemptions to the no-parking rules.
The letter to Ms. George was signed by Mr. MacNiven, Mr. Roberts and five other retailers. Their proposal would allow a total of about 200 feet of bike lane on both sides of the road, thereby increasing capacity by about 10 spaces.
The council agreed on a temporary exemption while town staff discusses the matter with Caltrans. The parking problem came to Caltrans' attention when at least one cyclist complained about the blocked bike lanes that had been the consequence of the school traffic twice a day.
Caltrans wrote to the town in September 2008 to propose no-parking signs to "remind drivers of the prohibition" on parking in bike lanes not wide enough to accommodate vehicles.