Visitors to Menlo Park's downtown area may no longer have to race against the clock to complete their business before their parking time runs out.
The Menlo Park City Council will consider on Tuesday, Oct. 20, a six-month pilot program that would increase to three hours the free parking time in the city's eight parking plazas. The current limit is two hours. On-street free parking time downtown would be doubled to two hours, from the current one-hour limit.
Merchants and shoppers have been calling for the higher limits.
Two of the parking plazas offer an option to pay to extend parking time. The city is looking at a way to offer such an option at the other six plazas.
The six-month pilot program is expected to cost about $10,300. If the council decides to make the longer free parking time permanent, the city would pay about $64,000 for 60 signs to be replaced in the parking plazas and 215 to be replaced along downtown streets, according to a staff report prepared by Kevin Chen, assistant engineer of transportation.
The cost of installing a pay system option at the six lots that don't currently offer it is estimated at $210,000, using the system now in use at the other two plazas, the report says. However, with the council's authorization, the staff could dive into a cost-benefit analysis of newer technologies that may offer a less costly method of monitoring and collecting parking payments.
If approved, the pilot would begin in January 2016. Results and recommendations about whether those changes should be made permanent would be presented to the City Council in July 2016.