News

Paying for 'overtime' parking in downtown Menlo

Council approves parking meter installation for two plazas

Start saving your quarters: In three months, plazas 1 and 5 in downtown Menlo Park will sprout multi-space parking meters.

The City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night (July 26) to pay vendor Parkeon $53,364 for six pay-by-space meters -– four for plaza 1, off El Camino Real and Oak Grove Avenue, and two for plaza 5, off Crane Street and Santa Cruz Avenue. An additional $2,000 will let the city install modules to allow the meters to take coins as well as some type of credit or transit cards, if that option seems necessary.

The first two hours of parking would still be free. The third hour would cost $1; the fourth, $1.50, with additional time costing $2 per hour.

The meters provide a way for the city to test whether the capability to pay to park longer than two hours will resolve the unhappiness expressed by downtown merchants and their customers, who complain that the current two-hour limit doesn't leave enough time to run errands and enjoy a meal.

"The biggest feedback we had was that people were losing customers because they couldn't get three hours [of parking," Mayor Cline noted during the meeting. "Losing customers at that clip wasn't sustainable; we've had some restaurants actually leave and say that was the reason."

After five years in business in downtown Menlo Park, Boutique 4 closed its Santa Cruz Avenue location in February. At the time, Tamara Michel, co-owner of the boutique, cited the city's extremely aggressive parking enforcement as a factor. "We had many customers who refused to come downtown to shop," she told The Almanac.

Mayor Cline thought meters would give the city the flexibility to adjust the plan if it doesn't work out. A veteran of the battle over downtown parking, he said at one point, "You can do a great thing with parking, and people won't think it's a great thing."

Councilman Peter Ohtaki explored whether leasing the meters instead of purchasing would be a wiser option, but discarded the idea after the city attorney explained that the contract with Parkeon could not be canceled.

The city also considered simply extending the parking limit to three hours, but staff concluded that would only lead to more downtown employees taking up parking spaces, leaving fewer available for shoppers.

Engineering Services Manager Chip Taylor estimated that the meters would go live by October at the latest; the city will need to paint numbers on each parking space and install signs. One month before that happens, they plan to hand out fliers to downtown businesses, customers, and drivers explaining the change. A one-month grace period and a telephone hotline open during the first six months will ease the adjustment, according to staff.

Comments

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Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jul 27, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Paying for parking? Telephone hotline? $53,000 to buy six parking meters? I don't think it's a "great thing". Sounds like a disingenuous way of putting a foot in the door of adding parking meters generally.


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Posted by Rita
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jul 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm

And adding staff. I suppose there will be complaints from people who failed to pay the increments for the time. This scale is too complex for some simple minds.


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Posted by Flynn
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm

If retailers thought they were losing customers before, charging for parking will not solve the problem. If anything it will incentivize customers to visit other places where parking is still free. Downtown Menlo Park will become more like Redwood (Deadwood) City with this plan.


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Posted by KAT
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I recently received a parking ticket while dining out in Menlo Park. And now parking meters are being installed? I plan to eat out in Palo Alto instead.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Flynn -

I have to assume you haven't been to Redwood City lately! Try going down there on Friday night... but you may want to make a reservation for dinner and prepare to try to find a parking space.

I wasn't a fan of the city's redevelopment project but it has clearly delivered. It has a long way to go but that place is anything but dead.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 27, 2011 at 6:43 pm

This is irresponsible journalism. The headline implies that all parking in Menlo Park will require payment and that is clearly not the case. The meters are a creative solution for those individuals who want to park for longer than the free parking period and to do so at a significantly lower cost than getting a parking ticket.


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Posted by CMB
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jul 27, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Parking meters? You've got to be kidding! Great products, great service, and/or good value drive traffic into a store whether there is parking or not. Before Jeffrey's Hambergers (which has parking) there were three restaurants that opened then closed because nobody came. Good value, good products and comfortable dinning moved in and so did the M.P. crowd. Parking meters strike me as an expense for our city that we don't need. They will be an inconvenience for consumers, and an added deterrent to DT Menlo Park businesses. People will zoom by with their busy lives, see meters and go elsewhere (Stanford Shopping perhaps). Lulu's is great & has tons of customers w/NO parking. Let's focus our city funding on helping business owners fill real consumer needs with quality products at a good value. This will bring more results for the whole community.


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Posted by Ex MP Worker
a resident of another community
on Jul 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I once worked in Menlo Park. We did the parking lot shuffle to avoid parking tickets. Talk about a hindrance to productivity! We would have gladly purchased a permit, but only a certain number were available. Ultimately, we did.

Since parking is free for a couple of hours, this will really only impact the people who work in the downtown area.

More importantly, it offers a legal alternative to parking for more than 2 hours, whether for work or an extended dinner. Menlo Park should have done this long ago.


Like this comment
Posted by Mismatch
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm

I'm with Peter Carpenter on this one. The article is actually OK, but the headline is completely sensationalizing things. Let's look at the facts:

PARKING FOR THE FIRST TWO HOURS
Existing: Free
Proposed: Free
What's Changing: Nothing

PARKING FOR ANYTHING BEYOND TWO HOURS
Existing: 1) You go down to the Police Department and buy a half- or full-day pass 2) You take your chances and likely get a big ticket - either way, you *pay* now
Proposed: You go to one of two well-marked parking lots and buy exactly how many extra hours you want.
What's Changing: Frankly, it's getting more convenient- no schlepping to PD and having to buy more hours than you need.

Sandy et al, you really need to tone down the headline. Something like "Downtown Menlo Extended-Hour Parking to Get More Convenient, Affordable" would be more accurate.


Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:23 pm

There seems to be no reasonable oversight of our local government.


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Posted by I'll be there
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Instead of posting here, anonymously, come to the Planning Commission meeting in the council chambers tomorrow and say what you think. Joanna, we, the residents, are the people who must provide the "reasonable oversight." There is no god of all government who will smite our city staff for their mistakes. We alone can hold them accountable.


Like this comment
Posted by Joy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 27, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Thank you Mayor Cline and the City Council for moving forward on a plan to eliminate the downtown parking challenges, that we as business owners face everyday. Our clients will be very pleased that they will now have a choice as to how long they want to "Shop Menlo Park".


Like this comment
Posted by SheilaS
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

There is no "FREE" parking in Palo Alto so why is Menlo Park acting like a cry baby?


Like this comment
Posted by Driveon by
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Yet another reason to not bother to shop in Menlo Park......Any opinion on this issue sought from the MP Chamber of Commerce....Probably not....The Chamber officials are too wrapped up in MP politics to worry about commerce.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Here are just some of the results of the totally misleading headline on this article - which should have read something like "Longer parking for a fee in Menlo Park":

"Yet another reason to not bother to shop in Menlo Park"


"There seems to be no reasonable oversight of our local government."

"Parking meters strike me as an expense for our city that we don't need. They will be an inconvenience for consumers, and an added deterrent to DT Menlo Park businesses."

"If retailers thought they were losing customers before, charging for parking will not solve the problem."


Like this comment
Posted by KAT
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Yes, there is free parking (without time limit) in Palo Alto at Town and Country shopping center and Stanford shopping Center. I can go there and shop and dine without worrying that I will get a parking ticket if I go 5 minutes beyond the 2 hour mark which has actually happened to me in Menlo Park. While I like to spend time/money in downtown Menlo Park, I will vote with my feet against overly aggressive enforcement of the 2 hour limit and the new plan for parking meters. I think this will lead to an overall decline in patronage of downtown Menlo Park businesses.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm

I am happy to feed a meter in downtown MP is need be. The bigger question is what's so compelling there that I want to spend more than 2 hours for?


Like this comment
Posted by LOL
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 28, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Hmmm:
"The bigger question is what's so compelling there that I want to spend more than 2 hours for?"

Congratulations, you get the award for best/funniest comment!


Like this comment
Posted by Sam
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 29, 2011 at 9:50 am

"The city also considered simply extending the parking limit to three hours, but staff concluded that would only lead to more downtown employees taking up parking spaces, leaving fewer available for shoppers."

How so? Do a significant number of employees work more than 2 hours but less than 3 hours? To me, extending the parking limit to 3 hours seems like the simplest solution.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:33 am

Sam, the other lousy part of this is that employees are also shoppers! It's so tiresome that the moronic city folks never acknowledge that. When I worked downtown, between my shopping, dining & paying for parking tickets, I dropped a lot of cash in an otherwise uninteresting area. The best part was dodging being hit by cars when crossing the street.


Like this comment
Posted by fact checker
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 29, 2011 at 10:46 am

Most of Palo Alto's downtown parking is FREE, unlike what other comments in this thread imply. For details see /www.cityofpaloalto.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=3904

Areas of downtown are color-coded - purple, coral, lime, blue. Parkers are limited to 2-3 hour segments and must move their car within that time or get a ticket. One cannot repark in the same zone during the same day, but can move to another zone.

I think it's worth trying a charge for all-day parking in some area to allow employees that choice. That would be easier if we had a parking garage. The current proposal is a decent interim step; a less expensive option is to simply designate an area that allows 3 hour parking for free. Can't we try that first?


Like this comment
Posted by mickie winkler
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Will each psrking slot have a meter?
Or will drivers have to walk to a pay station and then walk back to their cars and display the receipt?
The 2nd option is time-consuming and inconvenient and, IMO, will serve as more of a deterent than the cost itself.


Like this comment
Posted by pay to park
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 29, 2011 at 2:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is correct - this headline is very misleading (the one in today's Daily Post is even worse). The primary change being made is to allow those that need to park longer than two hours to do so without having to go down to City Hall to purchase a day permit. Now all that they will have to do is to walk over to the pay station and pay for the time that they actually need. Since parking is still free for the first two hours, very few people will actually end up paying any money. But for those who need to be downtown longer, this provides a convenient way to extend their time. And most importantly, it should reduce the number of parking tickets issued downtown.

One angle that the press seems to have missed: this change was originally passed by the Menlo Park City Council in September of 2010. Why was it brought back to the Council again? And if there is a reasonable answer, why did it take so long to return?


Like this comment
Posted by Robert Cronin
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

If you don't want to drive around looking for a parking space, and you don't want to pay for parking, the do what I do. Ride a bike. It's easy and fun.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Mickie:

if the pay station system is set up like it is in Redwood City each stall is numbered. You go to the pay station, enter your stall number and pay. Returning to your car is not necessary.


Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Yeah, the RWC system works pretty well. I'd love to know if that Parking Nazi is still going to chase cars? If so, Ranch Gal and I better be on the alert!


Like this comment
Posted by Ranch Gal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 31, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I get my hair done at Vizions on Santa Cruz Ave. It takes 3 hours total. Only allowed to park for 2. Get a ticket every once in awhile. Bummer..... Go to lunch at Carpaccios. Sometimes it lasts over 2 hours when there is a group of us gals. Get a ticket every once in awhile. Bummer..... MP traffic enforcement sure does love to promote downtown businesses I must say! LOL

In the past few years I have probably paid about $300 in parking fines in Menlo Park. Stanford Shopping Center and T&C Village is really a much better option. Shop and dine all day. No worries. I am totally against parking meters and 2 hour parking. 3 hours is good. With a lunch and shopping, it really takes 3 hours. Really! Go to lunch, do some nice shopping, end up at Draeger's.... 3 hours definitely. Trying to keep it all in downtown MP.


Like this comment
Posted by halle
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 1, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Well, after attending the July 28 Planning Commissiion meeting, I realized again, that like our
City Council, neither listen to the speakers that get to speak and n ot respond later for 3 minutes. 3/4 of the speakers on 7/28 were opposed tio the downtown plan and the comission did what it wanteed to do in the first place. As in the past, I will not vote to re-elec t people who act like this, whenever I have the opportunity to vote.

The police dept. told me that they do not have enough people to not get after cars that drive over the crosswalks, with pedestrians c rossing, but the city has plenty of people to give us parking tickets. Guess safety isn't as important as finances.


Like this comment
Posted by I was there
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 1, 2011 at 3:48 pm

The planning commissioners are appointed, not elected. They are volunteers who earn nothing for their time commitment, which is substantial. Having served on a city commission myself, I appreciate the effort our commissioners and council members contribute to our city. I wonder how many of the complainers on here have ever done anything for our city other than gripe?

Note that the commissioners are taking into account the needs of all residents of the city, not just those who were able to attend the meeting. Most speakers were property owners who were clearly more concerned about the possibility of having to pay for parking than about community needs.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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